It’s game on—or more accurately, training camp on, for the NFL after the league and the NFL Players Association finally resolved their remaining differences regarding operational and financial matters that had threatened to end the season before it had a chance to get off the ground.
The Giants rookies have already reported for camp. By Sunday, they will have completed the mandatory five-day testing period in which they were to have taken a COVID-19 test on reporting day (July 23) and again on July 26.
Both tests must be negative if they are to be allowed to begin training within the sterile environment the team has set up to be based out of MetLife Stadium.
The veterans are due to report for their five-day testing period on July 28. There will be an established schedule (as laid out by SI.com’s Albert Breer), who also reports that walk-through practices will be permitted during the strength and conditioning part of the schedule.
Schedules aside, the Giants will have no shortage of storylines this summer, ranging from what new head coach Joe Judge’s practices and command of the team will look like to how the new offensive and defensive schemes will take shape.
But Smith is unsure whether playing in the midst of a global pandemic is worth it.
“With the start of the 2020 season fast approaching, many thoughts and questions roam my mind as I’m sure it does for many of my co-workers across the league,” he wrote in an Instagram post. “The unfortunate events of the COVID-19 pandemic have put a halt to a lot of things. Football is not one.
“To continue discussing the many UNKNOWNS do not give me comfort. Risking my health as well as my family’s health does not seem like a risk worth taking. With my first child due in three weeks, I can’t help but think about how I will be able to go work and take proper precautions around 80+ people every day, then go home to be with my newborn daughter.”
He wondered how players are going to be able to practice safe social-distancing measures when every play requires contact.
“How can a sport that requires physical contact on every snap and transferal of all types of bodily fluid EVERY SINGLE PLAY practice safe social distancing? Yes, we can get tested every day, but if it takes 24 hours to get my results, how can I know each day that I’m not spreading the virus or contracting it. The recurring issue here is how? There are too many ‘hows’ that have yet to be answered to ease player concerns and ensure the safety of not only myself but also my family. I can’t imagine how the game will be the same during these unprecedented times.”
Smith said playing this season would, at the very least, call for a pay raise.
“I’m not a lab rat or a guinea pig to test theories on. I’m a man, a son, brother, soon to be a father, and I deserve to be safe at work.”
Some of the NFL’s health and safety guidelines were reported this week. Some of the rules include no jersey swapping or postgame congregating.
Smith is entering his sixth season with Tampa Bay. He’s played in 79 out of 80 games in his first five seasons.
Photo taken at halftime of Super Bowl I, between the Chiefs and the Lombardi Packers. This is legendary Chiefs QB, Len Dawson, getting a smoke, and drinking a bottle of Fresca in the locker room before going out for the second half, which the Packers dominated on their way to a 35-10 win. The famous and hungover Max McGee caught two touchdown passes from Bart Starr.
We wonder if times have changed, all that drastically. Maybe, these days, the cigarette smoke has been replaced by other kinds of smoke, including marijuana. Instead of a sugary soft drink like Fresca, perhaps it is a sugary soft drink like Gatorade.
In a shocking development, Matt Rhule, the 44-year old Baylor head coach, former Giants offensive line coach, and born and raised New Yorker, has rejected the Giants, who were scheduled to interview him today for their once-prestigious head coaching position.
Instead, Rhule, who was the Giants clear first choice to be their next coach, never got on the airplane after his interview yesterday with Carolina, who reportedly will name him their next HC later today.
Giants owner John Mara and G.M. Dave Gettleman have some soul-searching to do. There was nobody who didn’t expect Matt Rhule to jump at the chance to coach his childhood team.
Carolina could not have out-spent the Giants for Rhule’s services. For the young coach to not even give the Giants an interview may speak loudly about how far the Giants organization has fallen in esteem in the eyes of the league.
Mike McCarthy interviewed with the Giants last week and took the the Cowboys job, instead.
Tomorrow, the Giants interview Josh McDaniel, the offensive coordinator for the Patriots.
Maybe, McDaniel’s boss, Bill Belichick will become available as well, over the next couple of weeks. He can see the writing on the wall for his Patriots organization, with coaching staff and player personnel undergoing massive changes. At age 67, the only job Belichick has told friends he would leave New England for is the Giants job, with the organization that gave him his professional start as an assistant coach under Bill Parcells.
The allure of the Giants organization and tradition has taken a huge hit, today, for sure, but this may turn out okay for the Giants if McDaniels or his boss still see the job as the apple of their eyes.
Can you imagine McDaniels and Belichick coming to the Giants as a package?
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Giants today announced they have dismissed head coach Pat Shurmur after two seasons of a five-year contract.
Mark this down as another bad deal for the Giants.
The team also confirmed that general manager Dave Gettleman will remain in his position.
Mark that down as a win for John Mara, whose loyalty to Giants personnel is legendary, and a loss for co-owner, Steve Tisch, who reportedly wanted to sweep out the entire hierarchy of football decision-makers.
Looming over the Giants, a franchise that many feel is developing a young core of of talent along with a franchise quarterback in rookie Daniel Jones, could be the imposing figure of the winningest coach in NFL history, Bill Belichick, currently trying to get to his tenth Super Bowl in the past 15 years with the New England Patriots.
Since becoming the Patriots head coach in 2000, Belichick has led them to 16 AFC East division titles, 13 appearances in the AFC Championship Game, and nine Super Bowl appearances, with a record six wins. Belichick has participated in 11 Super Bowls, including two as Bill Parcells’ defensive coordinator in 1986 and 1991, has won eight Super Bowl championships in total from his combined time as an assistant and head coach. And, he’s never gotten rid of his soft spot for the Giants.
No one outside Foxborough knows for sure what his contract status is and there is speculation he could be available in 2020. Whenever given the chance, Belichick waxes poetic about the start of his NFL coaching career with the Giants. It is very likely that the Giants are the only team he would leave New England to take over. He could bring his offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, with him — with McDaniels taking on the challenge of continuing the development of Daniel Jones. This would make sense if the rumblings that Tom Brady’s time with the Patriots is nearing an end.
The Giants were 9-23 in 2018-19 and have not won more than five games in any of the last three seasons.
“Steve and I have had many extensive discussions about the state of the Giants,” Mara said. “This morning, we made the very difficult decision that it would be in the best interest of the franchise that we relieve Pat of his duties. The last three seasons have been extremely disappointing for the organization and our fans. Pat has been a successful and highly-respected NFL coach for 21 years and he is not solely responsible for our record. But we came to the conclusion it is best to have a fresh start with the coaching staff. We very much appreciate how much Pat has done for this franchise. He is a man of character and integrity and the team has conducted itself with pride and professionalism.
“As owners, we take full responsibility for our recent poor record. It is our goal to consistently deliver high-quality football and we will do everything in our power to see that there is a rapid and substantial turnaround.”
Added Tisch, “The last two seasons have been a continuation of what has been a very difficult and disappointing period for our franchise. It is never easy to part with someone the caliber of Pat. But John and I came to the conclusion that we need a new voice in the coach’s office and made the decision to bring in new leadership.
“We understand how frustrated our fans are. They expect more from us and we expect more from ourselves. Our focus now is on developing and improving our football team so that our fans can enjoy the winning team they expect and deserve.”
Mara and Tisch believe that Gettleman is the best general manager for the team. His first draft class included running back Barkley, the No. 2 overall selection who set numerous records in his debut season and was selected the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year. In addition, his 2018 draft choices included Will Hernandez, who has started all 32 games in his two seasons at left guard, linebacker Lorenzo Carter and defensive tackle B.J. Hill.
This year, the Giants drafted 10 players, including Jones, who started 12 games and established numerous franchise rookie records, including 24 touchdown passes. Jones is expected to be a fixture at the game’s most important position for many years.
The 2019 draft class also included Darius Slayton, a fifth-round selection whose eight touchdown receptions tied him for first among NFL rookie wideouts; Dexter Lawrence, who started all 16 games; linebackers Oshane Ximines and Ryan Connelly; and defensive backs DeAndre Baker, Julian Love and Corey Ballentine.
“Dave Gettleman is our general manager in 2020 and hopefully for many years after that,” Mara said. “We believe he is the right person to lead us going forward. Dave has a long record of success. We think he’s capable of putting a great team together and he’s going to get that opportunity. To the extent we need to make changes in personnel or the way we do things, we’re going to discuss that.”
“Although our record didn’t reflect it this season, we believe Dave has assembled a strong nucleus of young players that will help us compete for championships in the future,” Tisch said.
Shurmur was named the 18th head coach in Giants history on Jan. 22, 2018.
The Giants finished their first season under Shurmur with a 5-11 record, a two-game improvement over their 2017 record.
Twelve of the Giants’ 16 games that season were decided by seven or fewer points, tying them with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for the most in the NFL. The Giants were 4-8 in games decided by seven or fewer points. The eight losses in such games were an NFL high. The Giants held a fourth-quarter lead in four of those games.
The Giants began the 2019 season 2-2, with the two victories coming in Jones’ initial starts after Shurmur decided the rookie would replace 16-year veteran Eli Manning as the team’s starting quarterback. But after defeating Washington on Sept. 29, the Giants tied a franchise record by losing nine consecutive games and falling to 2-11. They did not win again until Dec. 15, when they beat the Miami Dolphins. That was the second of two games in which Manning substituted for Jones, who was sidelined by a sprained ankle.
Mara and Tisch said they will immediately begin their search for a new coach. They did not identify any candidates.
“The search will be extensive,” Mara said. “We understand this a very big decision for our franchise. We’ve had three losing years in a row and, quite frankly, we have lost some standing as an organization. When you have three losing years in a row as we have, you face a lot of criticism. A lot of it is deserved. It’s up to us now to turn that around and get back to where I think we should be.”
NY Giants fans, you may yet have a happy future. Much sooner than you think.
Would you believe a 3-11 team, one with the potential to finish this inglorious 2019 season 3-13, hope to contend for a playoff slot in the near future? Sounds like a silly question, doesn’t it?
But, the answer, in this view is, a resounding yes.
The Giants roster doesn’t consist of household names, yet. No Lawrence Taylor’s or Phil Simms or Eli Manning’s in that locker room. Well, there is that old guy, #10 still hanging in there but the future core of this team will not include that Jersey number, which will be retired.
But, talent, young emerging talent, is taking shape for Big Blue. And, the more I watch these kids every week, the more improvement I am seeing in technique, confidence, and most importantly, production on the field.
DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal, Cory Ballantine, Julian Love, Markus Golden, Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, Oshane Ximines, Lorenzo Carter, Dexter Lawrence, and injured rookie linebacker, Ryan Connelly are mostly in their first or second years on a defense which might add the best defensive football player in the country out of Ohio State, Chase Young, if the Giants hold onto the second pick in the NFL draft by losing their last two games. The addition of young veterans, Leonard Williams (from the Jets) and Markus Golden have been examples of addition by addition. The removal of Janoris “JackRabbit” Jenkins, the veteran cornerback, has been addition by subtraction, especially in that locker room of impressionable youngsters.
From this group on defense will emerge new leaders. Don’t be shocked if names like Connelly, Julian Love, and Dexter Lawrence step up to that mantle.
It says here, next season will offer an athletic, fast, and tough unit on the defensive side of the ball. How do I know that? Because I know it. Take it to the bank.
The question is, will they have the right coach to guide these kids next season? Is the current coaching staff going to be retained to continue the progress?
On offense, the O-Line needs a massive upgrade in talent, particularly at the tackle positions and at center. But, I loved the young guards, Hernandez and Nick Gates, yesterday. Both are big, tough, athletic youngsters who like the game of football. Unfortunately, the stopgap free agents signed in the off-season by the potentially stopgap general manager, Dave Gettleman for the sole purpose of protecting the quarterback from the left and right tackle positions didn’t pan out, making Gettleman’s job tenuous, at best.
The receivers are solid, with Sheppard, Golden Gate, and Darious Slayton while tight ends Evan Engram and the Stanford kid, Kaden Smith are potential pass-catching stars as receivers. But, the key to this unit’s success will always remain with the success of the kid QB, Daniel Jones, and the star running back, Saquan Barkley, who, along with game-breaker Engram need to stay on the field. Until the offensive line becomes solid, though, scoring points will be a challenge, particularly vs. better teams, for Jones and his mates.
After all, you can’t play the Miami Dolphins every week, you know? But the core of this team appears to be very close to being one that will impact on the NFL, as soon as next year.
So the Jets owner, Christopher Johnson, publicly pronounced that his choice of Adam Gase to be the head coach of the New York Jets on January 3rd of this year has been rewarded with the kind of progress all of us sane football fans can easily perceive.
I mean, who wouldn’t think a 2-7 football team wasn’t showing progress, right? Perhaps, the Jets “big win” over the 2-8 New York Giants changed everyone’s thinking around Jets land. But, is their thinking rational?
Here’s the thing. The Jets stink. Their offense, which is Gase’s baby, stinks. Their defense stinks. Their special teams stink.
So why is Christopher Johnson sticking with Adam Gase, then? One reason and one reason only.
Sam Darnold, the young quarterback drafted last year who has seemingly regressed in this, his second season as an NFL starting quarterback. Johnson and the Jets’ hierarchy are protecting Darnold from the awful prospect of having a winning head coach come in next season, with a winning track record and mucking up Darnold’s development.
We agree, with Johnson, but only to the extent the young quarterback should have the benefit of continuity within the offensive system Gase installed this year. But, It would not ruin Darnold’s career to go into yet, another system next season if Gase was relieved of his duties. Darnold, still only 22-years old, is talented and mobile, a prototypical modern quarterback in today’s NFL. His weaknesses of ball security and decision-making with many of his throws are fixable by any coaching staff, and are separate issues that have been a part of his history, going back to his college days at USC.
I am convinced this head coach is not going to be successful. He does not appear to have the personality or leadership skills to coach 53 players and the three platoons of a football team. he focuses on offense the way Rex Ryan focused on defense.
The reality is, his offensive systems have not proven successful in the past nor hase his play-calling been viewed as groundbreaking in any way.
If I’m running the Jets, should a better option than Adam Gase present itself, if a coach with a long career of winning and getting his teams into the postseason become available, I would get rid of Gase in a second. The still young Darnold can adjust to a third system. Especially when the current system sputters, anyway. And. before we start talking about offensive lines and injuries, always know that every NFL team has the same issues with offensive lines and injuries.
Mike McCarthy would have had this team in a better place than 2-8, or whatever their record is.
Q: How did Saquon (Barkley) look today? A: He was practicing.
Q: We saw Sterling Shepard out here a little bit during individual drills. Where does he stand after the concussion and how did he look? A: He was out here practicing, doing what he can do. That’s it.
Q: Is he still in the (concussion) protocol? A: He’s in the protocol, yeah.
Q: A lot of that is out of your hands… A: It is out of my hands. We have our doctors… Anytime there’s an individual in the protocol or coming back from a concussion, the doctors will let us know when they’re allowed to be playing. So, that’s where we’re at. I really don’t have anything to add. I understand the interest in all of this, but there’s really nothing that I can add.
Q: A player being out here, if he’s very symptomatic, he’s not going to be out here, I would think, right? A: Yeah. That’s fair.
Q: Do you know where he is in the protocol? A: I can’t talk about that. I know where it’s at, but that’s not really something for public consumption. He’s in the protocol, and when he’s able to play, our doctors will let us know that and he’ll be playing.
Q: What does Saquon have to show you to play on Sunday? A: He has to handle practice well and be ready to play. He practiced today, so we’ll see when he comes in tomorrow, how he feels. Then the next day and so on and so forth.
Q: Right now, what are your hopes for him playing on Sunday? A: We’ll just have to see. I’m going to let the week kind of determine that.
Q: Did you watch any football this weekend? A: I watched a lot of football. Most of it was Arizona, getting ready to play them, but I did see some of the games, portions of the games, especially the later ones.
Q: Your division is very bunched up between one, two and three. A: That’s what they say. Our focus is on Arizona. You control all of that by winning games, and that’s our focus.
Q: What made now the right time to add a guy like (Javorius) Buck Allen, and in hindsight, do you wish you had a veteran the last two games? A: No. We made the decision to do it now, and we’re glad he’s here. He was available, we worked him out and we’ll get him going as quickly as possible.
Q: How much was Evan (Engram) able to do today? A: He practiced. He did a lot.
Q: We noticed he did not participate in the walkthrough you had last Wednesday. Was that a situation because you had already decided that he would not play Thursday, or he wasn’t ready to participate? A: Each week is the same. You go through the week, and guys that are coming back from injuries, you try to determine whether they can play. It just so happened we had to kind of determine that through walkthrough settings. This week, we’ll be able to see more because they’ll be out running around.
Q: Last week, it didn’t seem like he was moving like his normal self. What did you see from him today in that regard? A: I would say he’s better.
Q: It didn’t look like (Sam) Beal was dressed for practice. What’s the plan with him? A: You can expect to see him on Wednesday.
Q: Why not today then? A: Because we felt like starting him on Wednesday was better.
Q: So you’ll activate him off the IR for this week? A: No. He has to go through… There’s a certain protocol that he has to… There are 21 days here. There’s some practice involved. We’ll just see where he’s at.
Q: What was sort of your Monday message, since the guys haven’t been here for a few days? A: We’ll get back to work. I think that’s the important thing. Get back to work, put all of our efforts into winning our next game. I think that’s what every coach’s message always is. You just do everything that you can to win the next game. All of that other stuff outside, standings, where you’re at, all that, none of that matters. You have to put all of your efforts into winning the game, and then the rest of it will take care of itself.
Q: Did Wayne (Gallman) practice today? A: He was out here. I can’t tell you exactly how much he did.
Q: One of the things that Saquon said when he was hurt and has said since is that he wanted to come back fast and then also come back and be better. He said 10 times better. It seems like he’s going to accomplish the first part. Can he be better than he was? A: Yeah. He’s a young player still, so every time he comes out here, he has an opportunity to get better. I’m glad to hear those are his comments. I didn’t read them or I didn’t hear about those. But when you hear a player talking about trying to get better, and better by a large margin, I think that’s great.
Q: So Wayne Gallman is still in the protocol? A: Wayne, yeah, he’s working his way through it. I really don’t want to talk about all of this, guys. When the guys that have concussions are ready to play, I’ll be made aware of it and so will you guys.
Q: As of last week, you guys had the fourth-youngest defense in the league. Obviously with roster shuffling, that could change a little bit. But it’s a young defense and a young team in so many ways. What have you noticed from them in terms of their personality or the group they’re kind of learning to be and becoming as the season moves along? I ask that knowing you had a long weekend to kind of catch everyone’s breath. A: That’s a good question. We are young. Sometimes when you say young in this league, or you say injured in this league, it’s people making excuses for you. What’s important about our young defense is that I think they’re improving each week. Our young players have made significant contributions. Some of your young players can be your best leaders. The message to them is to continue to improve. I think we know from experience also that sometimes your youngest players make the most improvement as they go through it for the fifth, the sixth, the seventh and the eighth time. I think that’s where we’re at.
Q: You said you watched the Cardinals. What did you make of (Kyler) Murray? Is he just different than any other quarterback really coming through the league? A: He keeps every play alive with his feet, certainly. They’re doing a lot of good stuff on offense. You see the reason why he was a dynamic player in college. He can make great throws from the pocket, but when the field gets spread out, he can take off and run with it. Especially in situational football where it’s third and short, or some of the third downs, or you get down in the red zone, they take advantage of his legs and his ability to move around. Not to minimize the fact that he’s an outstanding pocket passer. I think that’s what makes him dangerous.
Q: It was widely assumed that he would be the first overall pick, and obviously, you guys weren’t there, but how much work did you guys do on him leading up to the draft? What was your read on him entering the draft? A: We did a lot of work on him. We weren’t surprised that he was the number one pick.
Q: Why not? A: Because he’s an outstanding player. That’s why.
Q: What was your read on him scouting him as a college prospect. You kind of mentioned some of the things that he’s done in the NFL. What did you like about him coming out of college? A: I think you’re seeing in our league all of the things that he did in college. That’s what makes him dynamic. He’s an outstanding athlete, can throw the ball extremely well and when things break down or he has a chance to move around, he does that probably as well as anybody.
Q: What are the ingredients to creating and sustaining a winning culture? A: That’s a tough question, probably a long answer, might need a book on that one. Honestly right now, my apologies, I’m just trying to prepare our team on a short week for a really good Giants team. A team that’s gotten a little bit of a spark. They are a dangerous, explosive team, they have to try turn it around on a short week. The question you asked is more than I can handle right now.
Q: Did you have a reaction a few weeks ago when you heard Eli Manning was benched? Obviously, Eli Manning has been around a long time, he has history with the Giants, certainly has history with your team. What are your thoughts on Eli, his situation and what he’s done in his career? A: I have a ton of respect for Eli, he’s a great person, very professional, team oriented. I spent over a decade with the Giants, I have an appreciation for playing quarterback for that franchise in that environment. He’s done a tremendous job, and certainly had a lot of success against us. I have a great deal of respect for him. I’m really focused on trying to coach our team and I need to do a better job of my job and not really looking to evaluate what anybody else is doing. I have my own full plate here, I’m trying to coach the Patriots.
Q: What is your impression of how your defense is playing this early and seemingly this well? A: We’ve had our moments. Right now, it’s about focusing on the challenge ahead with the Giants. The Giants have so many weapons on offense, a great tight end, two great quarterbacks, probably the best running back in the league, very good receiving group. They are very experienced on the offensive line, they added a lot of players there in the last couple of years. Solder, Zeitler, Remmers and, of course, Hernandez, Halapio has done a good job for them. Those guys have played together, they are in there every week, they haven’t really had any changes all year. They have (Golden) Tate back now, they have a ton of weapons offensively. Well coached, they have a great scheme, they are a well-balanced offense. That’s a lot for me, a lot for us to handle, to try to prepare for and for our players to get ready for all the things that they do and do well. They can run it; they can throw it, throw it deep, throw it to the backs, throw it to the tight end, catch and run plays, play action drop back, misdirection, you name it. It’s a lot to get ready for.
Q: What is different about the Giants offense with Daniel Jones at quarterback? A: Offensively, it’s probably the same plays. Eli is very good at the line of scrimmage of making adjustments and protections and occasionally signaling routes against pressure and things like that. He may have done a little more of that on the line than Jones has. Jones is fast, and he’s made plays with his legs outside the pocket. The Tampa game comes to mind right off the bat. He’s got the ability to extend plays and also run for yardage to score or pick up critical first downs. He has kind of the sixth receiver element. Both guys are very accurate passers, see the field well, make good decisions. They are at different stages of their career, but both guys are outstanding players. Any team would like to have either one of them and they are fortunate they have both.
Q: I know you guys had Jones up there for a visit pre-draft and I’m just curious what your impressions were of him before the draft, and has he looked like the player you thought he could be? A: Yeah, we had a great visit. He spent most of the day here, actually spent a lot of time with our offensive coaches, with Josh (McDaniels) and Mick Lombardi, guys that work with that position on the offensive side of the ball. We had a great conversation, talked about a lot of things. He’s very mature, certainly a good understanding of the Duke offense and Coach Cutcliffe and the things that they were doing there. Again, a good grasp of the offensive system—protections, routes, route concepts and why they’re used in different combinations and in certain situations. Actually, I think it was kind of a change of plans, but at the end of his visit, I think he said he had to go somewhere, but then he ended up going to the Giants from here, so even I could figure out there was something going on there. He’s an impressive player and a very impressive person. We had a great visit, and again, playing quarterback in New York is not the easiest thing in the world, but he’s got a lot of maturity and a good head on his shoulders and has good perspective on football and the overall leadership position that comes with that role on and off the field. So, I’m sure he’s done well and will continue to do well.
Q: You’ve never faced Saquon Barkley, but you’ve seen him on film, and I guess his availability is in question for Thursday—what kind of dynamic does he bring to the Giants to change their offense? A: He’s an outstanding player. You’re right, we haven’t faced him, and I hope we don’t, but we need to be ready for him. He’s a very competitive guy, I’m sure he’s doing all he can to get ready to go. He was close last week, so we’ll probably get him. He can do it all. He’s got great power, speed, they use him well in the passing game. He’s very hard, obviously, to tackle in the open field, he’s hard to tackle anywhere. He’s got good vision, good quickness, he can play in space, he’s elusive, he’s got power, he had 2,000 yards from scrimmage last year. That pretty much says it all right there. Plus, we know he can return kickoffs and everything else, so he’s got a ton of skill, as good as any back we’ve seen on film. We watched a lot of him last year, we didn’t expect him to play in preseason, but just kind of getting ready for the Giants in the preseason we saw a lot of last year’s film and what a player he was for them. And he was an explosive player and a dynamic player this year. I’m sure he’s either going to be back or is close to being back, so we have to be ready for him.
Q: What made Nate Solder such a valuable member of your organization when he was there? A: Nate did a great job for us. His first year, he played behind (Matt) Light, played right tackle, played tight end, and so forth, he played about half the time, but it was in a variety of positions. Then, after that, he took over at left tackle and gave us really solid play there for a number of years.
Q: I know you focus on your team exclusively, but are you mindful at least that two of your quarterbacks (Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo) with the Colts and 49ers are having a lot of success this year, and you had them and did a lot to develop them? A: Well, that’s kind of the way it is in the National Football League. Every team has players that were on their team that are playing somewhere else and some of them are doing well, and maybe some of them aren’t playing anymore, but that’s the league. There’s plenty of movement throughout the league at all positions with every team. If you follow the NFL, that’s pretty much the same for every team.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – It was 88 degrees here this afternoon, but to Golden Tate it created emotions oddly similar to those experienced at another time of year.
“It felt like Christmas to me,” he said.
Tate to make season debut after 4-game suspension
Tate was the proverbial child receiving a long-anticipated gift. After missing the first month of the Giants’ season while serving an NFL suspension, Tate practiced with the team for the first time since the final week of August, on a day strangely hotter than it was then. He will make his season debut on Sunday, when the Giants host the Minnesota Vikings.
“It was good,” Tate said. “I felt like I was moving around pretty well. Obviously, I just need to catch my wind a little bit. But I felt like I was pretty sharp for the most part. You had guys like (Sterling) Shep(ard) and Cody (Latimer) that helped me if anything popped up.
“I missed these guys, I missed the chatter, the music, the warmups, I missed everything about it. Just being around the guys, it was special. Something that I definitely value. Just excited to get back out and compete. It was great.”
Tate spent his enforced absence at his home in San Diego working out with Melvin Gordon, the Los Angeles Chargers’ running back who ended his holdout last week. Though they attempted to make their sessions as rigorous as possible, NFL football is a game that cannot be replicated away from a team’s practice environment.
“It’s hard to simulate football without playing football,” Tate said. “So much goes into it. I was running a lot, and I felt like I was in shape. But until you have that first practice, that’s when you learn – today was also an 88-degree day, so that could have something (to do with) it. The biggest thing is I think I’m strong enough where I won’t go out and pull any muscles or tendons, so that’s the most important thing. My wind will come over the next few days, I would expect. Coach (Pat Shurmur) is doing a great job of taking care of me.”
Tate brings skill, speed, experience and 611 career receptions to an offense that has been on an upward curve since rookie Daniel Jones became the starting quarterback two weeks ago. He should step right in and join Shepard and tight end Evan Engram as Jones’ favored targets.
“Obviously, he’s a guy that’s played a long time, he’s caught a lot of balls,” Jones said. “He’s a really good player, he gives us another weapon, another tool on offense. Excited to have him back out there for sure.
“I worked with him a little bit (in the preseason). The week of the Patriots game especially, I worked with him a little bit. We all worked with everyone throughout camp and throughout the preseason, I feel comfortable with him, I think he feels comfortable with me, so I think we’ll be on the same page.”
Tate has played in 137 regular-season games with 100 starts, so he knows how to prepare during the week and can anticipate what will happen on Sunday, both physically and mentally.
“With this being my 10th year, I feel like I have a good beat on what to expect,” he said. “I guess the biggest thing would be being used to the physicality of the game. That first time I get out there, getting off a release and actually getting jammed, or getting pads put on me and being knocked off my path. Or when I do make a catch, getting hit and trying to have that body control down to the ground. I would probably say that’s the biggest thing. Maybe the speed. The speed is obviously going to be a little bit more than it is in practice, especially against this defense that flies around. I think I’ll adjust pretty quickly.”
That might take a little more time against the Vikings, who line up with one of the NFL’s most formidable defenses. Minnesota is ninth in the league in passing yards allowed with 218.5 a game.
The good news is that this is a very familiar foe for Tate. He spent 4½ seasons with the Detroit Lions, one of the Vikings’ NFC North foes. He has played 10 games against them and his 50 receptions vs. Minnesota is his second-highest total vs. any opponent (Green Bay, 52).
“I believe (that helps),” Tate said. “I’m very familiar with majority of those guys on that defense. I used to play them twice a year. I know them a lot, but with that being said, this is a very hardnosed, tough defense that we’re playing.”
The other part of that equation, of course, is that had these teams met a week ago, the Vikings would not have had to contend with Tate. Now they have to prepare for him with no game action to study to help them discern how the Giants might use him. Tate wants to contribute not only statistically, but to the chemistry on an ascending offense.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “(I am) just another option. It’s no secret that yards after the catch is something that I specialize in. I feel like I can take that five-yard pass and turn it into an explosive play, which is what we might need a time or two this season. I don’t mind going through the middle. I don’t mind blocking. I think I can make big plays. Just another complete receiver on top of the guys that they have like Cody, Shep, Evan and Wayne (Gallman). We have a lot of guys that can make plays. Just another option that hopefully is going to make it easier for D.J. and harder for defenses to cover.”
That itself is a pretty good srecei
Barkley running and cutting today
*Saquon Barkley officially did not practice today, but he was on the field for the first time since spraining his right ankle 10 days ago at Tampa Bay. After going through some rehab drills, he stood with his fellow running backs and was both cheerleader and observer. And afterward, Shurmur was asked if this week’s game is too early for Barkley’s return to the field.
“I don’t know yet,” Shurmur said. “We’re just going to see where he’s at. He’s out there moving around. I’ve seen him moving around. I guess this is the first opportunity for you guys (reporters) to, so that’s probably why it’s a point of interest.”
*Linebacker Alec Ogletree (hamstring) and guard Kevin Zeitler (shoulder) also did not practice.
Four players were limited: running back Wayne Gallman (neck), tackle Nate Solder (neck) and linebackers Lorenzo Carter (neck) and Tae Davis (concussion).
“We have a bunch of guys here that this time of year, it’s just game soreness,” Shurmur said. “I’m not really concerned about (them). … Just game soreness stuff. This time of year, it kind of creeps up. By the end of the week, most, if not all, of these guys will be ready to go.”