The NFL today announced the key dates in each club’s official, voluntary nine-week offseason program. Continue reading NFL Announces Offseason Workout Program Schedule Dates
The Giants and Bengals completed the details on a trade that will send New York’s fifth round pick in this year’s draft to Cincinnati in return for linebacker Keith Rivers. Continue reading Giants’ Trade for Linebacker Keith Rivers is Official
Seeking some relief at the tight end position after losing Kevin Boss and Ben Patrick in less than a week, the New York Giants signed TE Daniel Coats Sunday.
Coats, 27, played in four games for the Denver Broncos and six with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2010, but didn’t record a catch all season. His best season came in 2009, when he appeared in all 16 games (11 starts) and caught 16 passes for 150 yards. For his career, Koats has 30 receptions for 291 yards and zero touchdowns. Listed at 6-foot-3, 264 pounds, Coats is three inches shorter than Boss but nearly 10 pounds heavier. The Bengals signed him as an undrafted free agent out of BYU in 2007.
Boss was a free agent who signed with the Oakland Raiders Friday, while Patrick was signed Monday but “decided he no longer wants to play football,” the team announced Saturday night. Since their departure, the tight end position has been one of the most contentious of training camp, which just wrapped its first full week. The Giants are expected to move forward with a relatively unproven combination of Travis Beckum, Bear Pascoe and Jake Ballard.
By the end of the night, the weather was the least of the New York Giants’ worries.
Rain forced the team’s second scheduled full-pads practice inside the Timex Performance Center field house, but the news that first-round draft pick CB Prince Amukamara fractured the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot greatly outweighed the location of practice. Amukamara will undergo surgery to have a screw inserted into his foot, and the timetable for his return is unknown.
As if that wasn’t enough, the team also learned that newly-signed TE Ben Patrick decided he no longer wants to play football. The team placed Patrick on the reserve/retired list after practice. Patrick, who was signed Monday after four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals, was expected to compete for significant playing time after Kevin Boss signed with the Oakland Raiders. Now, the team will move forward with some combination of Travis Beckum, Bear Pascoe and Jake Ballard — all somewhat unproven — at tight end.
The depth of the Giants’ secondary — considered very promising after Amukamara was drafted — now seems thin behind starters Corey Webster and Terrell Thomas, as well as nickel back Aaron Ross. Bruce Johnson, a third-year cornerback who missed ten games last season with a torn ACL, ruptured his Achilles tendon in Thursday’s practice and was waived/injured.
With the Giants down two corners, they’ll likely lean heavily on players like Brian Witherspoon and Michael Coe to provide depth to what is now a relatively young and inexperienced group of cornerbacks. The team will also will likely look to sign another cornerback to replenish the lost depth.
Sash continues to impress
One rookie who continues to garner attention is sixth-round pick S Tyler Sash. The 6-0, 223-pound former Iowa Hawkeye has shown a precocious knack for making plays around the football, and also displayed great ball skills in Friday’s practice when he tracked down a high, floating pass from QB Sage Rosenfels to snag his first interception of training camp.
Sash continued his strong play Saturday, flying all over the field. On one play, he came close to demolishing WR Michael Clayton on a pass over the middle if the drill had been full contact.
Later on, Sash smashed into another impressive rookie, 6- 2, 260-pound FB Henry Hynoski, knocking the fullback to his rear. Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and safeties coach Dave Merritt yelled Sash’s name, clearly impressed with his play.
- The injury area (or the “Tour de Osi,” as it’s been nicknamed in honor of disgruntled DE Osi Umenyiora’s presence on the workout bikes) was extra crowded Saturday. The injured players included WRs Mario Manningham (ankle), WR Domenik Hixon (knee) and WR Devin Thomas (finger); DBs Brian Jackson (back) and Cary Harris (shoulder); and LBs Clint Sintim (knee) and Spencer Paysinger (groin).
- Coughlin said earlier in the day that Hixon might sit out every other practice as he strives to strengthen the knee on which he had ACL surgery on last year. Thomas, Harris and Paysinger were all expected absences having suffered injuries in the past few practices, leaving Manningham and Sintim as the lone surprises.
- TE Travis Beckum continues to have good camp. Saturday night, he hauled in at least three passes, one of which was a high bullet from QB Sage Rosenfels.
- The defensive backs were interesting to watch during position drills, as CB Corey Webster repeatedly yelled, “Catch them all!” during interception drills. Any dropped balls resulted in ten pushups for the offender — and yes, Webster was guilty on one drop. So was CB Prince Amukamara, though in the rookie’s case, his pass was slightly off target.
- DB Brian Witherspoon has shown a knack for ending up around the ball and could be a candidate to grab one of the reserve cornerback spots. Witherspoon also has been returning some punts in camp.
- WR Victor Cruz had an impressive practice, catching nearly a half-dozen passes. With Manningham and Hixon out, Cruz lined up with Nicks as the first-team receivers.
- DT Linval Joseph also lined up with the first-team. Along with second-round pick DT Marvin Austin, Joseph is a competing for the nose tackle spot next to Chris Canty.
- Speaking of Austin, he is showing no signs of rust after not playing any games during his final year at North Carolina. For a guy as big as he is — 6- 2, 312 pounds — Austin is explosive and disruptive. The entire defensive line seemed to have a good practice Saturday, breaking through the offensive line for multiple pressures throughout the evening. Austin was one of the most impressive in that regard.
- While the first-team linebackers seem set (Michael Boley, Jonathan Goff, and Mathias Kiwanuka), the second and third units have been intriguing to watch given the number of young but inexperienced candidates. Saturday, the second-team linebackers were Clint Sintim, Phillip Dillard, and Kenny Ingram, while the third-string consisted of sixth-round rookies Jacquian Williams and Greg Jones and undrafted free agent Mark Herzlich.
- Third-round draft pick WR Jerrel Jernigan explained earlier in the day how despite primarily lining up as a slot receiver, he plays on the outside as well. As a four-year starter at Troy, the explosive Jernigan lined up everywhere, though on . Saturday, he saw most of his reps at outside receiver.
It was a day of mixed emotions for the New York Giants, who early in the morning learned that starting TE Kevin Boss had signed with the Oakland Raiders for a reported four-year, $16M contract. The Giants had hoped to get Boss back, but with that door having closed, they will move forward with Travis Beckum and Bear Pascoe as their top tight ends.
Head coach Tom Coughlin said he heard the news of Boss’ departure shortly before he was scheduled to speak with the media, terming it “disappointing.”
“We were very much involved in that,” Coughlin said of the Giants’ negotiations with Boss. “The decision is the decision. I wish him well.”
“Obviously, we would like to have him here,” he added. “We’ve got five tight ends here, they’re going to have to compete for jobs.”
Beckum, who has always been a tweener/hybrid sort of tight end and thus far has been more of a receiver than blocker, figures to get his chances early and often this training camp.
Pascoe, who bounced around between fullback and tight end last year, said earlier in the day that he’s now spending all of his time with the tight ends.
Behind them are three wild cards in Jake Ballard, Ben Patrick and Christian Hopkins. Ballard was on the team’s practice squad last year; Patrick was signed as a free agent after four years with the Arizona Cardinals and Hopkins played in the United Football League for the past two seasons.
“[Pascoe’s] bigger, he’s stronger,” Coughlin said. “Ballard, obviously, is here for that job, for one purpose [blocking]. He’s gotten a little bit better with that. We’re continuing to develop Beckum into a consistent player; [he’ll] make a great play and then make a not so good play. So the guys that are here are going to have to prove to us that we can continue and run the offense that we want to run. If we have to make adjustments, we’ll do it.”
A Prince saves the day
Better news came later in the afternoon, as first-round draft pick CB Prince Amukamara finally signed his contract — the last 2011 first-round pick to do so. Amukamara arrived at the Giants’ Timex Performance Center Friday morning after an early 5:45 AM flight to ink his four-year, $8.18M contract that contains $7,484,700 in guaranteed money.
With the financials out of the way, Amukamara can turn his full focus to the football field. In the days leading up to his signing, Coughlin’s message to the media regarding the 19th overall pick in the draft was simple — he better get in here.
“Well I think you’ve got to get him the terminology first, the understanding so that there isn’t something that he’s confused with from a verbalization standpoint,” Coughlin said. “And then you’ve just got to throw it at him. He’s got to come along. You’ll bring him to a point, and you’ll try to assess how he can help us. And then after that, it’s a continuous extra time kind of devoted to getting there as fast as he can. So he’s got a lot of classroom to make up for. You figure four hours a day since he’s been here.”
Giants Lose CB Bruce Johnson
In a return to the bitter news, Coughlin also addressed the injury situation of CB Bruce Johnson, who ruptured his Achilles tendon in practice Thursday night. Johnson was waived/injured today, and he will likely end up on injured reserve this year — after missing 10 games last year with a torn ACL.
“I’m very, very sorry; very sad,” Coughlin said. “Bruce has had two in a row, with the ACL in the knee and the Achilles. We all were stunned by it because, as often happens — which there’s really no reason it should happen — he was backpedalling, he was just doing something of that nature and all of a sudden, this occurs. Why it happens, I always ask myself that. But I feel bad for Bruce.”
- CB Prince Amukamara was on the field as promised, but participated in practice sparingly. After stretching with the team, he went off with the defensive backs to position drills but mainly observed. He also spent some time learning special teams, where coaches had to correct about him where to line up. During the 11-on-11 scrimmages, he initially watched from the sideline before being inserted in the third-string secondary. On one play, he covered WR Todd Watkins step-for-step and QB Sage Rosenfels threw to the other side of the field. Later, though, Watkins got the best of Amukamara, beating him on an in-route and making a catch 15 yards down the field, prompting one fan to shout, “That’s what holdouts get!”
- DE Osi Umenyiora continued to sit out practice, once again beginning on the workout bikes with injured players WR Ramses Barden and OL Adam Koets.
- Speaking of injuries, WRs Domenik Hixon (knee) and Devin Thomas (ankle) both returned to practice after sitting out the night before. Thomas did, however, suffer another injury when he dislocated his finger trying to make a catch.
- CB Darnell Burks, signed earlier in the day to fill Johnson’s roster spot, practiced and wore No. 41.
- The offense began position drills in a two-tight end set, with Travis Beckum and Bear Pascoe on the field. That set was used a lot throughout the practice.
- The Giants have finally moved on from Plaxico Burress, having issued his No. 17 jersey to WR Michael Clayton.
- Speaking of Clayton, he was one of three wide receivers that lined up with the second team. Devin Thomas and Victor Cruz were the others.
- CB Aaron Ross has struggled in pass coverage so far, and this time, it was Domenik Hixon’s turn to burn him on a quick slant move inside that had Ross crossed up and falling over. Ross has also gotten some reps as a kick returner.
- WR Mario Manningham was the inside receiver for the first-team offense. Hixon and Hakeem Nicks were outside.
- DE Justin Tuck has had a terrific camp so far, going hard every snap and serving as the unquestioned vocal leader of the team. Friday night, he knocked one Eli Manning passes down at the line of scrimmage and made it into the backfield on several other occasions.
- On the second snap of the 11-on-11s, the offense lined up without any tight ends in an I-formation. Undrafted free agent Henry Hynoski lined up at fullback.
- Sage Rosenfels had a very inaccurate practice, missing high on several throws and overthrowing many of his deep passes. He continues to receive competition to newly signed David Carr and reserve/future contract signee Ryan Perrilloux.
- Sixth-round pick S Tyler Sash had his first interception of camp, making a great play on a high, floating pass from Rosenfels and timing his jump perfectly. Afterward, Safeties Coach David Merritt ran over to where Sash finished the play (the opposing end zone) and congratulated him by saying, “That’s a heck of a play, Sash!”
- RB Andre Brown seems to be making the most out of every opportunity he’s getting in his second stint with the team. Brown showed good hands catching dump off pass from Rosenfels and made a shifty cut up field that had the defensive players on the sideline oohing and ahhing. Brown also seems to be making a clear point to finish every run, sprinting all-out until the whistle is blown.
- Practice ended on a great play by WR/KR Darius Reynaud, who made a great leaping catch on a 40-yard bomb from Manning. It looked like Reynaud was running a deep post route toward the middle of the field, and as he was running to his right, looked up and switched direction as he leaped to haul it in.
The Giants returned to their outdoor practice field Thursday evening, welcoming their full slate of players back to practice, as the finally ratified CBA agreement allowed the new league year to begin.
Team player rep RT Kareem McKenzie reported that to the vote was unanimous.
“Listen, people want to go to work. Plain and simple. Ratify; go to work,” he said. “You don’t ratify, can’t go to work. Plain and simple.”
And so players such as DE Mathias Kiwanuka, RBs Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw, QB David Carr, C David Baas, P Steve Weatherford, and others were finally able to take the field for their first practice Thursday, which was in shorts and shells as per head coach Tom Coughlin’s plan.
“Once we knew about this August 4th thing, I didn’t focus on the guys not practicing,” Coughlin said. “I focused on the guys practicing. When it came down to, OK, these people are going to be available, now we’ve got to be smart about that, too. We try to be smart about everything else.”
The Giants also welcomed back a familiar face when the team announced it had re-signed DT Rocky Bernard today. It was not known under what terms Bernard agreed to, but to make room for him, the team waived/injured undrafted rookie free agent DT Martin Parker.
The Giants suffered their first serious injury of camp when third-year CB Bruce Johnson was carted off the field with what the team later announced was a ruptured Achilles tendon. After a knee injury forced him out of 10 games last season, Johnson will likely miss the entirety of 2011 as well. Also missing practice were WR Devin Thomas (ankle) , WR Dominik Hixon (knee), C Adam Koets (PUP/knee) and WR Ramses Barden (PUP/ankle). Hixon was held out of practice because the team is managing his comeback from a season-ending knee injury last year.
DE Osi Umenyiora also remained out of practice with what he reported to the team as being a sore knee. Umenyiora is currently locked in a contract dispute with the team that appears to have no immediate end in sight.
- Baas looked good in his first practice as a Giant, blocking well and fitting in nicely with the rest of the offensive line. He did, however have one botched exchange with QB Eli Manning.
- Kiwanuka took the field at strong-side linebacker with the first-team unit, in place of Clint Sintim, who had previously occupied that spot. On one play early in the second 11-on-11 drill, Kiwanuka burst straight through the line to stop the offense’s run play before it got anywhere.
- RB Brandon Jacobs received the second-team carries behind Bradshaw, who also practiced today for the first time. Bradshaw earned the first-team carries, though he and Jacobs saw nearly an equal amount. Both RBs looked to be in good shape after a lengthy time away from football.
- RB Andre Brown received several carries throughout practice, curiously ahead of D.J. Ware, who had been taking the first-team reps while Bradshaw and Jacobs were unable to practice. Brown seemed explosive and quick, utilizing a nice spin move during the position drills early in practice.
- Rookie WR Jerrel Jernigan, who looked shaky early in camp as a return man, seemed to have settled down. Tonight, he looked more at ease hauling in kicks and punts. He took the first punt returns of practice Thursday, while DB Aaron Ross and Ware followed.
- Position battles at punter might not be typical — or intriguing — for most training camps, but the Giants figure to have one continue in that fashion throughout training camp this year. Tonight, Dodge punted first and had better hang time, but Steve Weatherford did an excellent job punting the ball out of bounds inside the 20 — something the coaches placed a high premium on.
- The Giants’ WRs ran their slants drill Thursday night, and several receivers had trouble holding onto the ball. Victor Cruz — who’s had a few drops already this camp — dropped a couple, while Jernigan and Michael Clayton also struggled.
- WR Hakeem Nicks had two nice catches along the left sideline Thursday. On both, he made a clear effort to drag his feet on deep passes from Manning before falling out of bounds.
- CB Aaron Ross, who said that he no longer wants to be lined up at safety, made an impressive play on the ball while covering WR Mario Manningham in the first 11-on-11 drill. When Manningham cut to the sideline on an out route, Ross jumped in front and emphatically swatted the ball away.
- Undrafted free agent FB Henry Hynoski continues to be impressive thus far in camp. A 6- 2, 260-lbs., prospect out of Pittsburgh, Hynoski has earned several first-ream reps at the position, sharing with incumbent Bear Pascoe. Hynoski’s most notable attribute this far has been his pass catching out of the backfield, as he doesn’t seem to have dropped any passes.
- With Mathias Kiwanuka playing the SAM with the one’s Clint Sintim slid down to the second team. He lined up next to Phillip Dillard and Kenny Ingram — one of the more impressive young linebackers so far.
- Chris White, who has experience at both guard and center, lined up at center tonight. He had one botched exchange with QB Ryan Perrilloux.
- Speaking of Perrilloux, he was bumped down to fourth-string QB after Carr got the third-team reps. The Giants will almost assuredly take just two quarterbacks out of training camp, so Perrilloux is in need of consistent strong performances if he has any hope of making the roster.
Head coach Tom Coughlin and cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta admitted they were starting to worry about not having rookie first rounder Prince Amukamara in camp because of all the learning he was missing.
Turns out their days of worrying are over, as the Giants’ top draft pick this year agreed to terms on a new contract Thursday as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
While the financial terms were not immediately known, Amukamara is expected to sign his new deal tomorrow when he reports to camp. The impending timing, however, is good timing as earlier this evening, the Giants lost third-year CB Bruce Johnson to a season-ending Achilles injury.
Nevertheless, Amukamara has a lot of catching up to do.
“He will have to come in and compete and he will have to spend the extra time studying to get caught up with these guys as far as the mental aspect of the game goes,” Giunta said Wednesday.
“We will start working on his technique and try to grab him as much as we can when he is free. We have some volunteer days when players get the days off and we will try to catch him up as best as we can.”
by Mike Fiammetta
Free agency has gotten off to a frenzied start this week, but the New York Giants gained a sense of continuity Wednesday when they announced that head coach Tom Coughlin has signed a contract extension through the 2012 season.
Coughlin last received a contract extension following the Giants’ 2008 Super Bowl victory. Under Coughlin, who has been the head coach since 2004, the Giants have made the playoffs four teams, won the NFC East twice and, of course, took home Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl XLII. Coughlin’s regular season record is 65-47 (.580), the third-highest win total in Giants history behind Steve Owen (153) and Bill Parcells (77).
“As I was when I was hired in 2004, I am grateful for the opportunity,” Coughlin said. “To be the head coach of the New York Giants is the fulfillment of a dream for somebody who grew up where I grew up and when I grew up. As I have said roughly a thousand times, we’re all on one-year contracts in this business, but the reality is that I am thankful to work for people like the Maras and the Tisches and with people like (General Manager) Jerry Reese and his staff, as well as my coaching staff and our players.”
The task for Coughlin in 2011 will be to guide the Giants back to the postseason, where he has a 4-3 record with the team. Missing the postseason for three consecutive seasons obviously wouldn’t be a good scenario for a team that is just three years removed from its Super Bowl victory. Leaving Coughlin as a lame duck throughout the season would only magnify the pressure, something the front office surely would like to avoid.
“As we said after the season, we strongly believe in Tom,” president John Mara said. “We believe in the job he has done, and we believe in his ability to lead our team in the future. Everybody was on the same page in arriving at the extension.”