New York Giants: Adewale Ojomo

Big Blue Morning: RBs on parade

September, 10, 2013
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Your daily morning check-in on news and notes about and of interest to the New York Giants:

The news of the day: The Giants are bringing in several running backs, including old friend Brandon Jacobs and Willis McGahee, who was the Broncos' starter this time last year, for tryouts Tuesday. May sign one, may not. (Though I think they will, as they've already cleared a roster spot by waiving Adewale Ojomo.) As I wrote Monday, the point is not to replace David Wilson because of his two fumbles Sunday night, but rather to find the complementary back they intended Andre Brown to be before he broke his leg. Giving Wilson more to do at this point, when he continues to have ball security and blitz pickup problems, is not a recipe for success -- for him or for the team.

Behind enemy lines: Jeff Legwold expects the Broncos to play defense differently this Sunday against the Giants than they did in their season opener last week against the Ravens. Because the Giants use three-wide receiver sets more than Baltimore does, and because of the size advantage the Giants' receivers will have on the Broncos' corners, Jeff expects to see some new things from defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, including the occasional seven-defensive back set.

Around the division: The Eagles obviously looked great on offense in the first half against the Redskins on Monday night, but they either tired or simply took their foot off the gas in the second half as Washington came back and nearly made it a game. LeSean McCoy is a legitimately great player who likely will thrive in this offense, but one must still wonder about Michael Vick's durability and consistency. And considering the way the second half went, it's also fair to wonder whether the Eagles' personnel can handle the tempo for a full game. Chip Kelly has to be thrilled with the start to his NFL career, regardless.

Around the league: Two seemingly unrelated items of interest caught my eye. This one on Robert Griffin III saying the NFL had told him he had to cover up his knee brace, and this one on the Lions' Ndamukong Suh facing league discipline for a low block on the Vikings' center during an interception return. The NFL is open about the fact that it uses an escalating discipline system for repeat offenders, and Griffin has broken apparel rules many times and without any apparent remorse, willingly being fined for wearing Adidas apparel where the league specifics he should only wear Nike. And Suh, of course, is on the NFL's radar in a big way for past on-field physical offenses. Makes you wonder at what point the league takes a look at, oh I don't know ... a team that has a reputation for faking injuries to slow down opponents' offensive drives? Just sayin.

Giants add seven to practice squad

September, 1, 2013
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Seven of the players who failed to survive Saturday's final roster cut-down were named Sunday to the New York Giants' practice squad. They are:

DE Adewale Ojomo

DE Matt Broha

OL Stephen Goodin

OL Eric Herman

WR Marcus Harris

WR Julian Talley

CB Charles James

Since practice squads can including up to eight players, that obviously leaves one open spot, which the Giants could use to sign someone else or, if they add a veteran running back or safety in the coming days, to shift someone from their current 53-man roster there. Linebacker Kyle Bosworth, who was cut Saturday, caught on with the Dallas Cowboys, who are the Giants' Week 1 opponent.

Rapid Reaction: Patriots 28, Giants 20

August, 29, 2013
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. –- The New York Giants suffered yet another significant preseason injury Thursday, as running back Andre Brown broke his left leg during the Giants' 28-20 loss to the New England Patriots.

What it means: One week after losing safety Stevie Brown for the season to a torn ACL in a preseason game, Andre Brown breaks his left leg. It’s the same leg on which Andre fractured his fibula against the Packers on Nov. 25 last year. The Giants said Andre could have returned that season if they made it to the Super Bowl, so he could be a candidate for the injured reserve/"designated to return" spot that would allow him to come back after eight weeks.

Andre Brown’s injury is a blow to the running game. Coach Tom Coughlin wanted a one-two punch with David Wilson and Brown, who is the Giants’ most well-rounded running back. Brown could run with power and speed and catch out of the backfield and was the team’s best pass-protecting back. The team will now have to depend on and trust Wilson even more. Seventh-round pick Michael Cox might move up to the backup spot. Ryan Torain’s and Da’Rel Scott’s chances of making the team have increased with Saturday’s final cuts looming.

The Giants could also always look outside and see what is available, especially after teams make final cuts on Saturday.

More injuries: Brown wasn’t the only Giant to suffer an injury. Backup safety Tyler Sash suffered a concussion, and the Giants were already smarting there with the loss of Stevie Brown for the year. With Will Hill having to serve a four-game suspension to start the regular season, the Giants can’t afford to lose Sash for an extended amount of time. Rookie Cooper Taylor will be behind starters Antrel Rolle and Ryan Mundy if Sash has to miss time.

Also, tight end Adrien Robinson suffered an injury to what appeared to be his left foot. The severity of the injury wasn’t immediately known. Already this preseason, the Giants have watched starters such as Victor Cruz (heel), David Baas (left MCL), David Diehl (thumb) and the two Browns suffer injuries in preseason games.

Offense awakens: On a very small side note, the starting offense finished the preseason strong by scoring a touchdown in the red zone. After struggling in the preseason inside the opponent’s 20, Eli Manning orchestrated a 10-play, 91-yard drive that resulted in a 3-yard touchdown strike to Hakeem Nicks.

Manning opened the drive with a 37-yard completion to Louis Murphy. Manning also hit tight end Brandon Myers on a 10-yard gain, and Wilson had a 16-yard run as well on the drive.

One more time: Several Giants tried to make a final impression in the last preseason game. Defensive tackle Mike Patterson looked good, applying pressure to the quarterback several times and getting a sack and a half. Patterson might have solidified a roster spot with that performance. Marvin Austin, a second-round pick in 2011, might be fighting for a roster spot.

Middle linebacker Mark Herzlich also had a strong outing, snatching an interception off a deflection right before it hit the turf. Defensive ends Matt Broha, Justin Trattou and Adewale Ojomo all had sacks on Tim Tebow as well.

What’s next: The Giants will make final cuts on Saturday and play in Dallas in the season opener on Sept. 8.

W2W4: Giants at Patriots

August, 29, 2013
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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Even though the starters will play sparingly, there should be plenty to watch for when the New York Giants visit the New England Patriots for the preseason finale (7:30 p.m. ET).

What have you done for me lately? It's a meaningless final preseason game, but the real drama will be at certain position battles. Tonight is one final opportunity for some players to stake a claim for a roster spot.

I broke down the roster position-by-position and who could be on the bubble entering tonight. Keep a close eye on defensive tackle, where guys like Marvin Austin and Mike Patterson could be fighting for a roster spot. Can fan favorite Adewale Ojomo or fellow defensive end Justin Trattou make the final 53 with a sack or two in the finale? Also, will Dan Connor hold on to the starting middle linebacker job or can Mark Herzlich do enough tonight to get back in the mix there?

David Carr is expected to hold off Curtis Painter for backup quarterback while Ryan Nassib could be taking the last live snap of the season with the second team.

Get offensive: The starters may only play 12-to-15 snaps but Tom Coughlin desperately wants to see a spark from his starting offense. After struggling in the red zone repeatedly this preseason, Eli Manning would love nothing more than to punch it into the end zone on one of his two or three drives.

The new line: After the first revamped offensive line struggled against the Jets, Coughlin opted to move Kevin Boothe to center and insert James Brewer in at left guard. Justin Pugh will remain at right tackle alongside right guard Chris Snee. And Will Beatty will stay at left tackle.

We'll get to see how this line does and if the communication will be better than it was against the Jets. We fully expect this to be the offensive line moving forward until David Baas and David Diehl get healthy.

Safety dance: This will be the Giants' first game without the injured Stevie Brown. Antrel Rolle and Ryan Mundy are now the starters, but the Giants will need to figure out the depth behind them. Tyler Sash, Cooper Taylor and Will Hill should all get an opportunity to show what they can do against the Patriots. For Hill, this will be his last action before serving a four-game suspension when the regular season begins.

Get lucky: More than anything, the Giants just need to finish the preseason without another notable injury. So far, Baas, Victor Cruz, Diehl and Brown are among the starters who have suffered injuries during preseason games. It would be nice to leave Foxborough in one piece.

Coach talk: Nunn on defensive line

July, 10, 2013
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With the Giants off until training camp, we're periodically taking a look at what the coaches are saying about how their positions looked this offseason in OTAs.

Today, we look at Robert Nunn's thoughts on the defensive line.


Young guns: Osi Umenyiora's departure and Jason Pierre-Paul's rehab will allow the Giants to take a long look at some of the younger pass rushers they have behind Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka.

[+] EnlargeRobert Nunn
AP Photo/Scott BoehmGiants defensive line coach Robert Nunn will rely on some younger pass rushers this year.
Adrian Tracy, third-round pick Damontre Moore, Justin Trattou and Adewale Ojomo will compete to be a part of the defensive end rotation.

Tom Coughlin said he was impressed at times with Tracy and Moore in OTAs and minicamp.

"Damontre has come in and has shown flash in some good things," Nunn said during OTAs. "He has a long way to go -- a lot to learn in a short time."

"I'm really pleased with the way Adrian Tracy [has progressed]," the defensive line coach later added. "He is further along right now than he has ever been in his career at this time. He has got to keep moving forward and come in here in great shape, which I know he will. He has proven, as a special teams player, that he has got to go out there and be consistent playing the run and pass on Sundays on defense."

Ojomo's goal: Ojomo was one of the surprises of last year’s training camp. An impressive preseason earned him a spot on the roster. But his inconsistency kept him from playing last year.

"He's got to do other things than just get after the quarterback," Nunn said of the power rusher. "When everybody sees that we're not getting after the quarterback, there's a lot of factors involved. I am not going to get into it too much but bringing in a guy that is just a pass rusher, that wasn't going to be the answer.

"That's the thing that he has got to do, is get more consistent with other things, playing the run, understanding what we are doing with game plans and then helping the special teams. He has got to do those things to get a helmet on Sundays."

Versatile Cullen: Nunn says defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, the team's biggest defensive addition in the offseason, can be utilized inside to stop the run and on the outside as a pass rusher if need be.

"Cullen has played out there," Nunn said. "When I was at Green Bay with Cullen, we used him inside and outside. And I would feel comfortable to move him around a little bit in emergency situations."

Tell us what you think about what Nunn is saying about the DL going into camp.

'Yosi' ready to seize opportunity

June, 5, 2013
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With Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul absent from a voluntary OTA last week, Adrian Tracy was elevated to the first team.

And Tracy was happy for the opportunity to work with Mathias Kiwanuka as the starting defensive ends in practice last Thursday.

[+] EnlargeAdrian Tracy
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsAdrian Tracy has an opportunity to prove he is ready for a bigger role in the Giants' defense.
With Pierre-Paul sidelined now for an expected 12 weeks due to back surgery, Kiwanuka will clearly benefit the most and is likely to move up to the first team with Tuck.

But Tracy will see plenty of chances to prove that he is ready for a much bigger role. The young defensive end nicknamed "Yosi" -- as in Young Osi -- hopes he can help fill the void left behind by Osi Umenyiora’s departure to Atlanta and serve as the third defensive end now while JPP is sidelined.

"It is big not only for me but for everybody," Tracy said last week of the opportunity to move up with Umenyiora gone. "Somebody of that stature leaves for whatever reason, an opportunity always opens. Whoever seizes it will step in that place and hopefully that is me this year."

Tracy was drafted in the sixth round in 2010, the same year Pierre-Paul was selected 15th overall by the Giants.

But Tracy, who was converted to linebacker as a rookie, spent 2010 on injured reserve with an elbow and biceps injury. In 2011, Tracy was a practice squad player as the Giants made their Super Bowl run.

This past season, Tracy saw his first playing time, albeit sparingly. Rotating in behind a stacked rotation of Tuck, Pierre-Paul, Umenyiora and Kiwanuka, Tracy had 12 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble in 16 games.

His best game came in the Giants’ 26-3 rout in San Francisco in Week 6. Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell threw a wrinkle in his game plan by utilizing Tracy from different spots on the field. And Tracy responded with four tackles and one sack.

Tracy believes he will be able to show more of what he can do with more opportunities like that Niners game.

"I am very confident in my skills and my abilities," he said. "And I think the coaches recognize my versatility and what I can bring to the table."

Tracy will not be the only defensive end to get a chance to show what he can do. Third-round pick Damontre Moore, 20, collected total of 26.5 sacks in three seasons at Texas A&M, including 12.5 sacks this past season.

Adewale Ojomo turned heads last summer in training camp and will certainly get a shot to do the same again this summer. And Justin Trattou is hoping to show what he can do when healthy.

"There are some flashes," head coach Tom Coughlin said of what he saw from the young pass rushers in OTA last week. "Some good things are happening. He has shown some good ability to get off on the snap ... Tracy, Moore and a couple of these guys."

There’s always a chance the Giants will go out and sign a veteran defensive end, but they may want to first see what they have in Tracy and their other young pass rushers.

"Anytime you have an opportunity, you got to take it," Tracy said of getting to work with the first team last week. "Anytime you have an opportunity and you don’t, somebody else will take it.

"For me personally," Tracy continued. "If you give me an opportunity, I will take it and make the most of it."

Analysis: JPP has back surgery

June, 4, 2013
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Jason Pierre-PaulAP Photo/Evan PinkusThe Giants won't rush Jason Pierre-Paul (back surgery) in training camp.
Jason Pierre-Paul underwent back surgery Tuesday morning in Los Angeles.

The defensive end underwent a microdiscectomy to repair a herniated disc in his lower back. Dr. Robert Watkins performed the procedure at Marina Del Rey Hospital in California. The team expects Pierre-Paul's recovery and rehabilitation to be approximately 12 weeks.

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter reported that doctors believe Pierre-Paul should be 100 percent for this coming season and will be ready for the season opener on Sept. 8.

“My back has been bothering me for a while, and even last season I played through some back issues,” Pierre-Paul said in a statement. “The treatment I’ve been doing has helped manage the issue, but this procedure is going to get me fully healthy and there should be no more pain. I’m going to do everything the doctors tell me to do during my rehab so I can be back playing the game I love at a high level as quickly as possible.”

Pierre-Paul had been experiencing lower back pain "the past couple months" according to Ronnie Barnes, senior vice president of medical services for the Giants.

"He has managed the discomfort with treatment and core strengthening exercises," Barnes said. "Last week, he was examined by Drs. Russell Warren and Frank Cammisa at the Hospital for Special Surgery. Both felt this procedure was the most prudent course of action. Dr. Watkins, after examining Jason yesterday, agreed. We expect a full and complete recovery."

Nevertheless, anytime “surgery” and “back” are mentioned in the same sentence involving your star defensive end, it gives you serious pause. Outside of Eli Manning, Pierre-Paul is arguably the next player the Giants can least afford to lose. They have other defensive ends. But JPP is that rare pass-rusher who can dominate a game on his own when playing at his best -- just ask Dallas -- and he's the team's future.

Pierre-Paul has a history of back issues from his college days and labored through back pain in his rookie camp in 2010. His back issues flare up from time to time. Osi Umenyiora started a game against Washington last year for Pierre-Paul, who came off the bench in that game due to back pain.

When healthy, Pierre-Paul can dominate, as he did in 2011 when he had 16.5 sacks and earned a Pro Bowl selection. But last season, JPP struggled to get 6.5 sacks. His total tackles also dipped from 86 in 2011 to 66. GM Jerry Reese said Pierre-Paul needs to learn how to deal with double-teams, and he wants his young star to sit down with Michael Strahan to learn from the ex-Giant's vast experience.

A source told Schefter that Pierre-Paul played with the back injury last season and received multiple epidural injections. That might explain the drastic dip in his numbers.

Head coach Tom Coughlin even wondered whether Pierre-Paul played a little too heavy last season.

“I was always in great shape," Pierre-Paul said in April. "I'm still the same size this year. People say I look slimmer but I'm the same weight.

"I was not big last year," he added. "I was 273 and I'm 274 now. If they want me to lose weight, I can do it that fast."

What's next: If all goes well, Pierre-Paul could be back midway through the final week of August, giving him time to get ready for the Sept. 8 opener against Dallas.

It’s a good bet the Giants will take it slow in training camp, as they should, with their future franchise player.

Mathias Kiwanuka, who has played a hybrid linebacker/defensive end role, is expected to move to defensive end full time in Pierre-Paul’s absence, joining Justin Tuck on the first team .

The Giants will find out quickly what they have in some unproven pass-rushers. Adrian Tracy, third-round pick Damontre Moore, Adewale Ojomo and Justin Trattou will show what they can do, beginning with veteran’s minicamp next week.

Tracy figures to move up to the third defensive end spot that belonged to Umenyiora. Remember, Tracy was nicknamed "Yosi" -- as in young Osi -- by the other pass-rushers. But Moore, Ojomo and Trattou could make it a competition with an impressive summer.

Ojomo turned heads during last year’s training camp and he’ll have even more chances to earn playing time. The 6-5, 255-pound Moore had 26.5 sacks in three seasons at Texas A&M, including 12.5 sacks this past season. But he is only 20 and needs to get bigger, according to Coughlin.

The Giants might sign a veteran defensive end for insurance -- old friend Dave Tollefson could be an option.


Moore ready to heed Tuck's message

May, 16, 2013
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When Damontre Moore first arrived to the Giants facility last week, the rookie defensive end found a note in his locker stall.

The note was from Justin Tuck. The defensive captain had a message for the team’s newest quarterback-sacking prospect: "I hope you are ready to work."

[+] EnlargeDamontre Moore
AP Photo/Julio CortezRookie Damontre Moore could be used in a hybrid linebacker/defensive end role.
"They need to know that this year has to be our best year," Tuck said of the Giants’ second and third-round picks DT Johnathan Hankins and Moore. "I don’t want to call them our weakest link but they are the new guys so they don’t know our system, how we get down. So right now they are our weakest link and you are only as strong as your weakest link."

Let the first lesson begin for the young Moore. The team drafted the productive defensive end out of Texas A&M to augment a pass rush that stalled out last season and learn from veterans like Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka.

And while Tom Coughlin likes what he has seen out of Moore on game film, the head coach said Moore needs to improve on his practice habits leading up to game days.

Moore, 20, is very young and the Giants are ready to mold him into their next pass rushing prodigy.

"That wasn’t one of my strong fortes," Moore admitted of his practice habits. "But I’m here to work and I’m trying to make my weakness my strong point. It’s nothing but motivation and good criticism so for a talented guy to point out my flaws like that and tell me what I need to work on, all that means is I need to go in there and work on it that much harder."

The Giants loved what they saw out of the 6-5, 255-pound Moore on Saturdays. He had a total of 26.5 sacks in three seasons at Texas A&M, including 12.5 sacks this past season. He was used in a "joker" role in which he rushed standing up as a hybrid linebacker while also rushing as a defensive end. It’s no wonder why Moore grew up emulating Dallas’ DeMarcus Ware.

Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has used Kiwanuka in a hybrid linebacker/defensive end role and Moore appears to fit the build for the future.

At the moment, the Giants have Pierre-Paul and Tuck as starters and Kiwanuka could assume Osi Umenyiora’s role as the third pass rusher. Adrian Tracy, Adewale Ojomo and Justin Trattou will compete for the fourth end spot.

Certainly Moore, who could play on special teams, would like to be in that mix as well when the Giants go to their NASCAR four defensive end package.

"That gives me a lot of excitement," Moore said of being surrounded by experienced and successful pass rushers. "I’m just sitting here trying to soak it all in. I’m ready to get to work and hopefully a little bit of that rubs off on me and I can have a little success."

That’s certainly what Tuck wants to hear. He also wants the rookies to develop thick skin because the ultra-competitive defensive line room is no place for mentally-fragile rookies.

"I want those guys to come in with the attitude knowing that this year is all about working," Tuck said. "It is not about what we have done or haven’t done. It is a brand new year and instill in them early that this team is going to work our ass off to get back to where we feel we should be -- a consistent football team that makes the playoffs and wins the last game."
We're taking a closer look at each draft pick and what the Giants' brass is saying about the newcomers.

Third-round pick: DE Damontre Moore, Texas A&M

Here's our Rapid Reaction and what the Giants are saying about him:

[+] EnlargeDamontre Moore
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsDamontre Moore
Marc Ross: "Some people may have gotten scared off at the combine when he ran so slow and didn't lift that well. A Terrell Suggs, a Trent Cole, a Derrick Burgess ran really slow but played fast on tape. Things off the field that people may not have been comfortable with where he just needs to grow up. He's only 20. He needs to be a professional a little bit. He's a good kid who loves to play. Those may have been a couple of reasons [why he dropped]. ... He interviewed OK for us. But when you see a guy run 4.9 when guys are running 4.5s and 4.6s, people jump all over that number as opposed to the 12.5 sacks and 21 tackles-for-loss numbers.

"[Texas A&M] had a special joker role for him. He had his hand on the ground, he stood up. Our coaches are excited to use him in different ways. You've seen some of our guys do that hybrid role. [Mathias Kiwanuka has done both]. He has a skill set to do a little bit of both. But he won’t be strictly a linebacker for us. It'll be more of a hybrid role."

Tom Coughlin: "Damontre Moore, has great production -– 12.5 sacks [and] 26.5 over his career, 21 TFLs; a very, very good effort player on Saturday [in college]. He has some issues, I think, during the week, which we will have to address in terms of preparation and practice mentality, that type of thing. But he is young, just 20 years old.

"He has outstanding quickness. You look at his 40 time and you are going to say, well, it is not what you would think. But there was a big split in those times in Indianapolis and he does play faster than the [40] time you are probably going to refer back to. But his quickness and his shuttles were outstanding. So from me to you, he is as quick as it is."

Jerry Reese: "The defensive end [Moore], he is sacks. In three years he got 26.5 sacks, had 12.5 this past season. We were a little surprised he was up there that long with his sack production, but you can't pass guys with that kind of sack production so it was a decision we made to go and go get him right there with that pick.

"I think Kiwi has a bigger frame. Their lower body is probably similar, but obviously Kiwi has been around for a while. He's definitely matured and filled out, but there could be comparisons drawn if you look at their lower body. ... The thing I like, he plays hard. Guys that play hard, you can coach them to do the rest. He plays with a nasty streak and we think he's got a tremendous upside."

Analysis: Sounds as if Moore still needs to mature mentally as well as physically, but that is fine since the Giants are one team that can afford to wait. They have Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, Kiwanuka, Adrian Tracy, Adewale Ojomo and Justin Trattou at defensive end for this season. Moore may have to wait until 2014 to make a real impact, but he could come in and contribute on special teams and even perhaps see a few snaps as the fourth defensive end if he has a good showing in camp.

Tell us what you think about the Giants' newest defensive end and what your hopes are for "Da'Monster."

Reaction: Giants take DE Moore

April, 26, 2013
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Damontre MooreThomas Campbell-USA TODAY SportsThe Giants took a chance on Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore.
PLAYER: Damontre Moore
SCHOOL: Texas A&M
POSITION: Defensive end
HEIGHT: 6-4
WEIGHT: 250

The Giants continued to draft reinforcements for the defensive line by taking defensive end Damontre Moore. Moore was considered to have second-round talent and the Giants got him a round later.

With Osi Umenyiora gone, the Giants needed a defensive end to potentially contribute in the rotation this year but one who might be able to make an impact next season and provide insurance in case Justin Tuck doesn’t return next season.

THE 411: The Giants love Moore's production. In his three seasons at Texas A&M, Moore had 26.5 sacks -– fifth among active NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision players. He had 12.5 sacks and 85 tackles last season. Nicknamed “DaMonster,” Moore started off his career at Texas A&M sharing the “joker” position with Von Miller, playing some 3-4 rush linebacker and 4-3 defensive end. But Jerry Reese says Moore is an edge rusher.

Moore is young. He’s just 20-years-old and Reese said Moore has a lower frame similar to Mathias Kiwanuka. Described to be very athletic in space.

Moore was arrested for marijuana possession in 2011. The Giants like Moore’s energy in games, calling him an effort player in games. But Tom Coughlin said Moore’s practice habits need improvement. May need to mature and ran a slow time (4.9) at the combine.

HOW HE FITS IN: The Giants say he might be able to come in and compete for a spot in the rotation of pass rushers. The Giants like to use four defensive ends and perhaps Moore might compete with Adrian Tracy, Adewale Ojomo and Justin Trattou for the fourth defensive end spot. Jason Pierre-Paul and Tuck will start and Kiwanuka could move into Umenyiora’s role as the third defensive end.

PROJECTED IMPACT: Reese believes Moore can play special teams initially and create competition to crack the pass-rushing rotation. Marc Ross, the director of college scouting, says the coaches are excited about his versatility to potentially play a hybrid role. Biggest impact may come in 2014 and beyond, considering his age.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING: “The defensive end, he is sacks,” Reese said. “You think about him in three years, he has 26.5 sacks. He is an edge rusher, tremendous upside. Too good a value for us to pass up on. Why did he slip? I am not sure. Early on people had him ranked pretty high. We were a little surprised that he stayed up there that long with that kind of sack production. You can’t pass on guys with that much pass production.”

Draft preview: Defensive line

April, 22, 2013
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Bjoern WernerJoe Robbins/Getty ImagesBjoern Werner might be the Giants' best selection with the 19th overall pick in the NFL Draft.
This is the seventh installment in a position-by-position analysis of the Giants as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Defensive line.

Depth chart: DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DE Justin Tuck, DE/LB Mathias Kiwanuka, DE Adrian Tracy, DE Adewale Ojomo, DE Justin Trattou, DE Matt Broha, DT Linval Joseph, DT Cullen Jenkins, DT Mike Patterson, DT Shaun Rogers, DT Marvin Austin, DT Markus Kuhn, DT Bobby Skinner, DT Michael Jasper.

The departed: DE Osi Umenyiora (Atlanta), DT Chris Canty (Baltimore), DT Rocky Bernard (free agent).

Scouting report: Defensive line, specifically the interior, is an area the Giants focused on during the offseason. The defense finished 25th against the run last year so Jerry Reese added former Eagles’ defensive tackles Jenkins and Patterson.

Joseph should continue to get better after having 59 tackles and four sacks last season. The Giants have great depth at defensive tackle with Patterson, Rogers (who missed all of last season due to a blood clot), Austin and Kuhn.

The Giants’ sacks went down from 48 in 2011 to 33 in 2012. They'll need to alleviate some of the attention on Pierre-Paul, who was limited to 6.5 sacks last year. The Giants also will need a bounce-back season from Tuck, who had only four sacks. Umenyiora’s departure will have an impact but Kiwanuka could fill that role and perhaps Tracy, Ojomo or Trattou can step up as the end in the rotation.

The last time: The Giants drafted Kuhn in the seventh round in 2012.

Potential targets: With Umenyiora gone and Tuck entering the final year of his deal, the Giants can use another young pass rusher. And considering how their salary cap is and how they want to lock up Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz to long-term extensions, the Giants probably need to go the draft route to add another defensive end to groom at an affordable rookie contract in case Tuck isn't back in '14. Remember, when thinking about what the Giants might do in the draft, always consider the team’s future and how Reese is always looking for starters/contributors for upcoming seasons, not necessarily this year.

After BYU’s Ezekiel Ansah and LSU’s Barkevious Mingo –- both expected to be gone by when the Giants pick at 19 –- Florida State’s Bjoern Werner is widely considered the next best defensive end. Werner, who had 13.0 sacks last year, is the only other first-round caliber defensive end on Scouts Inc’s draft board.

UCLA’s Datone Jones, Florida State’s Cornellius “Tank” Carradine, SMU’s Margus Hunt, LSU’s Sam Montgomery and Texas A&M’s Damontre Moore are all defensive ends who could go late in the first round or after.

Reese might have to go with a defensive end at some point with his first two picks given the depth of quality pass rushers.

“There are some pass rushers in the draft, yeah,” Reese said. “How deep it is, I’m not sure.”

Other pass rushers that could go in the mid-rounds are Texas’ Alex Okafor, Michigan State’s William Gholston, Illinois’ Michael Buchanan, Ohio State’s John Simon, Auburn’s Corey Lemonier, Georgia’s Cornelius Washington and Western Kentucky’s Quanterus Smith, who has drawn interest from the Giants according to NFL.com's Gil Brandt. Okafor finished in the top-10 in sacks in the nation with 12.5 last year.

The Giants are set at defensive tackle for this season but Joseph is entering the final year of his deal. Patterson and Rogers are also on one-year deals. Reese can opt to keep plugging defensive tackle with cheap one-year veterans in free agency if Austin isn't ready in '14 or he could select one in a draft that is considered to be deep at defensive tackle.

If a stud defensive tackle that is expected to go high falls to 19, Reese’s best player available formula will be tested. Scouts Inc. has five defensive tackles – Utah’s Star Lotulelei, Florida’s Sharrif Floyd, Missouri’s Sheldon Richardson, North Carolina’s Sylvester Williams and Georgia’s Johnathan Jenkins as worthy first-round talent.

The Giants, though, could find value later if they feel they need a DT. Alabama’s Jesse Williams, Ohio State’s Johnathan Hankins, LSU’s Bennie Logan, Georgia’s Kwame Geathers, South Florida’s Cory Grissom, Mississippi State’s Josh Boyd, Michigan State’s Anthony Rashad White and Bowling Green’s Christopher Jones, who had 12.5 sacks last year, are all defensive tackles who could be drafted.

Maryland’s A.J. Francis, Mississippi’s Gilbert Pena and Mississippi State’s Dewayne Cherrington are on the Giants’ radar according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

Need rating (scale of 1 to 10): 9 (for a pass rusher for the future).

Tuck: Losing Osi will be 'huge burden'

April, 11, 2013
4/11/13
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Osi Umenyiora thinks Justin Tuck could be in store for a monster year now that the two aren't divvying up snaps.

But Tuck says losing Umenyiora to Atlanta in free agency "is going to be a huge burden."

"Let Osi tell it, I’m going to have the best year of my life," Tuck said at an NFL Play 60 event at P.S. 21 in Staten Island, N.Y., where he also talked about Victor Cruz's contract issue. "It’s funny. He said the year I got hurt, you made your first Pro Bowl.

[+] EnlargeOsi Umenyiora
Julio Cortez/AP PhotoJustin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora celebrating a Tuck sack.
"[But] you can never replace a guy like Osi," Tuck continued. "A lot of people don’t understand how much of a help he is in the locker room and as a motivator. We always have worked together to try and polish our game. Losing him is going to be a huge burden."

In 2008, Tuck had a career-high 12 sacks when Umenyiora was out with a knee injury. Tuck and the Giants would certainly like to see a repeat of that this season as Tuck prepares for his first pro season without his good friend Umenyiora on the same team.

"He’s an All-Pro player," Tuck said. "You don’t just go out to the market and pick out those. Plus, he’s been here all of his career, all of my career. You get accustomed to knowing things that don’t show up on tape, that don’t show up in the play call.

"There’s a certain chemistry you have with guys knowing the situation in games what they’re thinking," he added. "They know what you’re thinking. That takes time. You have to build that back with whoever it is who’s going to be in their place next year."

Jason Pierre-Paul and Tuck are expected to start at defensive end while Mathias Kiwanuka should step into Umenyiora's role and rotate in. Adrian Tracy, Adewale Ojomo and Justin Trattou will all compete to be the team's fourth defensive end and the Giants could draft another pass-rusher this month.

Tuck is hoping to have a big bounce-back year in the final year of his contract. He's had a total of nine sacks in the past two seasons since posting 11.5 sacks in 2010. Tuck sat down with general manager Jerry Reese this offseason and said he emerged from the meeting even more motivated to rebound this year.

"We’re on the same page," Tuck said. "We both want the same things.

"I came out of the meeting refreshed and feeling good about where we are and the rapport we have with Mr. Reese."

It certainly didn't feel good for Tuck to see one of his best friends depart. But Tuck is happy for Umenyiora and understands it will take a collective effort to replace No. 72.

"You wish Osi well, sorry it had ... hated it had to go down that way," Tuck said of Umenyiora leaving in free agency. "But as long as he’s happy about it and as long as it’s going to put him in the right place, that’s fine. We all understand the business side of things. He’ll always be a Giant in my book."

Tuck said he had no issue with Umenyiora calling the Falcons the most talented team he has ever seen despite winning two Super Bowls with the Giants.

"Osi is very, very smart," Tuck said. "We’ve talked many times about how talent doesn’t win games. It doesn’t. I know what he meant by that, and it’s definitely not a shot against the Giants.

"Up until the last few months of negotiations, he wanted to be back here," Tuck continued. "It didn’t work out and he moved on. But now he has a new home and now he has to get those guys ready and win another Super Bowl. I don’t take any offense at all."

How do you guys think Tuck and the pass rush will do without Osi this season?

Schefter: Osi will sign with Falcons soon

March, 25, 2013
3/25/13
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Osi Umenyiora has been negotiating a new deal with the Atlanta Falcons and will sign soon.

ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter says it's no longer a question of if but rather when the Giants' free-agent pass rusher will sign with the Falcons. Umenyiora said last week that he would like a chance to win in Atlanta, where he lives in the offseason.

The Giants likely will move Mathias Kiwanuka back to defensive end full time, but they can still use another pass rusher either via the draft, free agency or from their roster (Adrian Tracy, Adewale Ojomo and Justin Trattou).

Positional analysis: Defensive line

February, 11, 2013
2/11/13
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We've been taking a look toward 2013 with a position-by-position breakdown of the Giants leading into the scouting combine and free agency.

So far, we have analyzed quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end. and offensive line.


DEFENSIVE LINE

2012 depth chart:
DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DE Justin Tuck, DE Osi Umenyiora, DE/LB Mathias Kiwanuka, DE Adrian Tracy, DE Adewale Ojomo, DT Linval Joseph, DT Chris Canty, DT Rocky Bernard, DT Marvin Austin, DT Markus Kuhn.

[+] EnlargeJason Pierre-Paul
Larry French/Getty ImagesOffenses keyed on Jason Pierre-Paul, who dropped from 16.5 sacks in 2011 to 6.5 in 2012.
Overview: Sacks were down as the Giants went from 48 in 2011 to 33 last season. Offenses keyed in on the Giants' pass rushers; JPP gained a lot of attention after his breakout season and was held to just 6.5 sacks. Umenyiora had six sacks and Tuck collected just four. The Giants finished 31st in total defense, 28th against the pass and 25th against the run. They couldn't get enough pressure on quarterbacks when they needed to, and stopping the run was problematic. Joseph continued to get better with 59 tackles and 4.0 sacks. Canty played in just nine games due to his knee.

Free agents: Umenyiora, Bernard, Tracy (exclusive rights free agent), DE Justin Trattou (exclusive rights free agent).

2013 personnel preview: The Giants will need more production from Pierre-Paul and Tuck, especially if Umenyiora isn't back. ... The Giants could always potentially move Kiwanuka back to defensive end. ... The Giants could sign another pass rusher in free agency or draft one. ... Tracy could emerge as the Giants' extra pass rusher. Ojomo also showed potential last preseason. ... The Giants will have to figure out who will start alongside Joseph now that Canty was let go. They re-signed Shaun Rogers to plug the middle. After missing all of last season due to a blood clot, Rogers will attempt a comeback. Austin should get opportunities in camp to show that he is ready for a bigger role. Kuhn exceeded expectations last season before tearing his ACL. ... Bottom line is that the Giants' defensive line has to be more dominant in 2013.

Salary-cap situation: Umenyiora is a free agent and is looking for more a lucrative contract and a starting job –- two things the Giants likely cannot give him. But he did leave the door open for a potential return. ... Tuck is entering the final year of his contract and vows to have a vintage Tuck year. ... The Giants shaved cap space by releasing Canty and re-signed Rogers to a cheap low-risk deal. There's always the possibility they could add another veteran defensive lineman in free agency.

Tell us what you think of the Giants' defensive line going into 2013 and what you want to see happen in the offseason.

Giant five: 2013 breakthrough candidates

January, 25, 2013
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This week we are rolling out some Giants top five lists.

So far, we have taken a look at five Giants leaders, the five biggest base salaries on the roster, five Giants injuries to monitor in the offseason, and five bounce-back candidates.

Now we examine five Giants who could have a breakout season in 2013, with more playing time and a bigger role. All these players have three years of experience or less.


[+] EnlargeDavid Wilson
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsDavid Wilson should see a lot more action in 2013.
1. RB David Wilson –- Wilson came on strong late in the 2012 season, with 230 of his 358 rushing yards coming in three of the last four games. He started two of the last three and gave the Giants a glimpse of what he can do as a No. 1 back. GM Jerry Reese said Wilson can carry the load of being a starter.

2. WR Rueben Randle –- The Giants’ second-round pick last year also came on late in the season, with four catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns in his only start, against the Eagles in the season finale. Domenik Hixon is reliable and can make some big catches, but it may be time to see what Randle can do as the team's full-time third wide receiver.

3. RT James Brewer -– Reese and the coaching staff talked quite a bit about Brewer before training camp last year. The 2011 fourth-round pick may be in the mix to start at right tackle in 2013. David Diehl is entering the final year of his contract, and left tackle Will Beatty is a free agent. It might be time to see if Brewer is ready for a bigger role.

4. DE Adrian Tracy –- Tracy has played both linebacker and defensive end, and could see more snaps this coming season depending on what happens with Osi Umenyiora and what the Giants do in free agency and the draft. Umenyiora sounds ready to move on, and the Giants need another young pass rusher to provide a spark. Tracy had four tackles and a sack in the win over the 49ers last season.

5. MLB Mark Herzlich/OLB Spencer Paysinger –- These two linebackers are entering their third seasons, and they could be in store for increased playing time. Chase Blackburn and Keith Rivers are unrestricted free agents, and Michael Boley saw his snaps reduced in the final two games of the season. Perhaps the Giants think their young trio of linebackers -- Jacquian Williams, Herzlich and Paysinger -- are ready for bigger roles?

Honorable mention: S Will Hill, DT Marvin Austin, CB Jayron Hosley, DE Adewale Ojomo, WR Jerrel Jernigan, TE Adrien Robinson.

Tell us who you think is ready for a breakout season in 2013 below.

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