EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For the third consecutive season, the Giants will have a new starting tight end.
Jake Ballard replaced Kevin Boss in 2011, and Martellus Bennett replaced Ballard in 2012. Now Brandon Myers, listed as the starter on the first unofficial depth chart of training camp, is the leading candidate to fill Bennett's shoes.
Myers spent his first four seasons with the Raiders after being drafted in the sixth round in 2009. Last year he had 79 catches for 806 yards and four touchdowns, before coming to New York as a free agent. Only three tight ends had more receptions in the NFL last season: Jason Witten (110), Tony Gonzalez (93) and Jimmy Graham (85).
Tight ends coach Mike Pope likes what he's seen from Myers thus far. "Coming here, you'd think, 'He's played in the NFL,' but he came in here with just the right attitude and gets mad at himself when he doesn't execute things the way he knows they should be done," Pope said.
Bear Pascoe is currently the second-stringer. He only has 26 catches in four NFL seasons (all with the Giants), and is also playing some fullback right now, due to Henry Hynoski's injury. But Pope said Pascoe is a key ingredient.
"He is the only guy here really who has playing time [in the system]," Pope said. "Because he's been through it, he can work with these young guys. He's a real valuable asset."
Adrien Robinson, the team's fourth-round draft pick in 2012, is listed as a third-stringer, along with rookie free agent Jamie Childers. Behind those two are Larry Donnell, who was on the Giants' practice squad last season, and rookie free agent Chase Clement.
Robinson in particular has looked good early in camp, and both head coach Tom Coughlin and Pope have brought up Donnell's name unprompted in the past few days. Pope said Robinson and Donnell will "absolutely" see action this season.
"We want to get Adrien on the field -- he's a terrific target and runs well," Pope said. "We’d like to see if Larry Donnell can make a contribution. Certainly size and talent-wise, he has that. But he missed all the spring and minicamps because of a broken foot, so he's virtually just starting right now."
Robinson and Donnell each had a catch during Saturday's practice. Myers had one, too. Clement had a drop, although the pass was thrown a little behind him by rookie QB Ryan Nassib.
It's still early, but you can expect Myers to have plenty of passes thrown his way this year. The question is, will any of these other young prospects emerge as a serious pass-catching threat?
On the other hand, this group might make an even bigger difference in the running game.
"I do think we have, size-wise, the biggest group I've ever worked with," Pope said. "These guys are 278, 280, 282 [pounds], and they can run fairly well. We haven't had that around here since I've been here -- that's since 1982.
"That should add to our running game on the edge, and should enable us to block some of these defensive ends and some of these outside linebackers that are in this league now. Hopefully, with the quickness and speed of our running backs, that can be a huge contribution."