New York Giants: Jerrel Jernigan

Preston Parker gets his chance at WR

September, 17, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jerrel Jernigan was not a "starting" wide receiver officially. But the New York Giants are in three-wide receiver sets on the vast majority of their offensive plays, and with rookie Odell Beckham Jr. sidelined to start the season, Jernigan was playing a significant role as one of the outside receivers in those three-wide sets.

Parker
Jernigan went on injured reserve Tuesday, which means his season is over. Beckham, who still hasn't practiced with the team since July 22 because of a hamstring injury, isn't ready yet. So the Giants need someone else from their bench to fill that spot opposite Rueben Randle when Victor Cruz goes into the slot. And first up will be Preston Parker.

"He will have that opportunity," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday. "He's been in the league. He's very quick. He's played before. He's got a good attitude about it. He's a tough guy, and hopefully he'll make a strong contribution."

Parker made the team as a bench wide receiver and a punt returner because of injuries to punt-return options Beckham and Trindon Holliday. Parker caught one 29-yard pass in relief of Jernigan in Sunday's loss to the Cardinals. He caught 40 passes for 554 yards and three touchdowns as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2011, but he played in only two games in 2012 and was out of football last season.

"It's an opportunity," Parker said. "It's an opportunity for me to take advantage of and try and make something happen. I remember I was at that high, and I went through those lows and now I'm back to that high again. You have to appreciate that."

The other options at wide receiver right now are undrafted rookie Corey Washington, who became a preseason cult hero with his 6-foot-4 frame and the four touchdown passes he caught in the exhibition games, and Julian Talley, who was added from the practice squad Tuesday. Parker gets the first shot at replacing Jernigan because of his experience. Washington has been used sparingly, when the team goes to four-wide sets and occasionally at the goal line.

Beckham again worked on a side field Wednesday. There's almost no chance he plays Sunday against Houston, and because the Giants' next game is only four days later, he's not likely to see the field in Week 4 either.

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

September, 8, 2014
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DETROIT -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 35-14 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

What it means: As we told you going into the season, the Giants' offense is not a finished product. Not even close. But the problems go well beyond whether they're picking up offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's new schemes. The Giants' problems are about personnel. The offensive line isn't good enough. They don't have enough at wide receiver, as Victor Cruz is easily erased from the game and Jerrel Jernigan and Rueben Randle aren't reliable. They have no dynamic tight end. And they didn't run the ball especially well Monday, either. Eli Manning's interceptions were bad, especially the second one, but the quality of the group around him needs to improve.

Stock Watch: The new Giants' secondary, DOWN. Yes, I know Calvin Johnson makes everybody look bad, but the breakdowns in the zones were terrible, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made way too many mistakes, letting Johnson go into empty space on the first touchdown and letting Golden Tate get past him for a critical 44-yard catch on third down in the second half. The Giants aren't good enough on offense to allow for a leaky secondary. This is supposed to be the strength of the team, but it was a weakness Monday.

Line must improve: Pass protection was Manning's biggest problem last year, was a major issue in the preseason and was terrible again Monday night. Left tackle Will Beatty looks lost, and he and the rest of the offensive line need to figure out some things in a hurry if the Giants are to avoid a repeat of last year's offensive crater.

Game ball: Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. The one bright spot, I thought, was the Giants' run defense, led by the play of the beefy defensive tackles on the inside. Especially with only three of them active for the game, Jenkins, Johnathan Hankins and Mike Patterson had to handle a lot of the load and held up well, limiting a talented Detroit running game to 76 yards on 30 carries. Jenkins made the plays that stood out most to me, so I pick him.

What's next: The Giants host the Arizona Cardinals at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Some Sunday Giants thoughts

September, 7, 2014
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The New York Giants don't open their season until Monday night in Detroit. But while most teams in the NFL are firing up their first games today, we don't want Giants fans to feel left out. So here are a couple of leftover #nygmail questions that didn't make it into Saturday's Twitter mailbag, and some thoughts on the answers to them.
@DanGrazianoESPN: If defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul has a big year, it is absolutely in the Giants' plans to re-sign him as the long-term anchor of their pass rush. That is their ideal situation, and yes, they will have the cap space to do it if they want to. They should be in decent cap shape regardless, with big-number guys like Mathias Kiwanuka and Cullen Jenkins candidates for pay cuts (or outright cuts) in 2015, and a likely contract extension for quarterback Eli Manning would provide more relief. So the ability to sign Pierre-Paul won't be an issue. The only potential issue arises if Pierre-Paul has the kind of year that makes him a poor candidate for a new contract, ala Hakeem Nicks in 2013. The Giants' plan going into last season was to re-sign Nicks if he had a big year. He had a rotten one and fell out of their plans. That situation could repeat itself if Pierre-Paul has more injuries or struggles through his contract year as Nicks did. But Pierre-Paul seems both healthy and motivated, and the Giants' hope is that he proves worthy of a big extension.
@DanGrazianoESPN: The Giants' strong preference is to keep wide receiver Victor Cruz in the slot, where he dominates matchups against linebackers and safeties. The new offense should offer Cruz a good opportunity to make plays once he has the ball in his hands, and they made it clear when they drafted Odell Beckham Jr. as an outside speed threat that they like Cruz better in the slot than they do outside. That said, you make a good point about the extent to which Jerrel Jernigan has struggled as Beckham's replacement on the outside. And if Beckham is going to miss a large chunk of the season, they likely have to look at other options there. One of those could be using Cruz on the outside and Jernigan in the slot, but the argument against that is that it weakens the Giants in two spots as opposed to just one. The problem, of course, is the lack of depth on the roster at the wide receiver position and the resultant lack of solutions. Someone -- be it Jernigan or Corey Washington or Preston Parker -- is going to have to play better. Or Beckham is going to have to (a) get healthy and (b) develop rapidly. And, oh by the way, it would be a huge help if Rueben Randle showed up as a consistently reliable option on the other side, which is still yet to be seen. Lots of question marks at that position, and that's one of the major issues facing the Giants as the 2014 season begins.

Enjoy the first Sunday of NFL football, and I'll chat with you Monday from Detroit.

Beckham, Kuhn, Brewer out for Giants

September, 6, 2014
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The New York Giants announced Saturday that rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring), defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (shoulder) and offensive lineman James Brewer (back) are all officially out of Monday Night's regular-season opener in Detroit due to their injuries.

None of that is a surprise, since the injuries kept those players from practicing all week and they're not prepared to play even if they were to be healthy enough by Monday. Beckham hasn't had a full practice since organized team activities due to hamstring problems and is likely still at least a few weeks away from playing. In his place, Jerrel Jernigan is likely to play on the outside when the Giants are in their three-receiver sets. Victor Cruz would be in the slot and Rueben Randle on the outside opposite Jernigan.

Kuhn's absence shortens the defensive tackle rotation and could mean more plays than originally anticipated for third-round rookie Jay Bromley behind starters Johnathan Hankins and Cullen Jenkins and reserve Mike Patterson. The Giants' preference is to rotate four at that position.

Brewer was unlikely to see action even if healthy, but his absence makes it more likely that the Giants would turn to newly-signed offensive lineman Adam Snyder if they had an injury to a starter on the offensive line.

Linebacker Jon Beason (foot), tackle Charles Brown (shoulder) and guard Brandon Mosley (back) all are listed as probable for the game. I'd expect Beason to start at middle linebacker, but likely not to handle a full starter's workload. He missed all of training camp while rehabbing his foot injury from June and only returned to practice last week. Mosley was the starting right guard in camp but may have lost that job to John Jerry, who's more likely to start at right guard Monday at this point.

Big Blue Morning: Back to work

September, 4, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants return to the practice field Thursday to officially begin their week of practice preparation for Monday Night's season opener against the Lions in Detroit.

I don't expect to see Odell Beckham Jr., of course, but it will be interesting to try and find out whether there has been any change in the alignment at wide receiver when the Giants are in their preferred three-wide receiver set. I know they would like to keep Victor Cruz in the slot, and Jerrel Jernigan did have a big game last time they were in Detroit, so maybe they catch lightning in a bottle with him on the outside opposite Rueben Randle next week.

As Mike Rothstein points out, the Lions have a new coaching staff this season and a new defensive coordinator for Tom Coughlin, Ben McAdoo & Co. to try and out-scheme.

I wrote this Wednesday about Coughlin, his importance and his approach to this season's Giants team, in case you missed it.

On Wednesday, the Giants put Geoff Schwartz on short-term injured reserve, so he can't play until Week 9. They will start rookie Weston Richburg at left guard in Detroit, and if Brandon Mosley can't get back on the practice field Thursday or Friday, John Jerry is the likely starter at right guard.

More later from practice and the locker room.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Sitting here wrapping things up from MetLife Stadium and taking your #nygmail Twitter questions on the 4-0 New York Giants. Some of these questions came in before Friday night's game, so please bear that in mind, as I did when answering them after it.

@DanGrazianoESPN: No. And either third or fourth. I think they're clearly behind Philadelphia and Washington on paper, and Dallas' offense is light years better than theirs. The problem the Cowboys have is that their defense looks horrible, so flip a coin there for third and fourth place between them and the Giants. Now, this is all just about predictions on paper. The Giants are very well coached and don't appear to have a brutal schedule. And I'm not much good with preseason predictions anyway. But you asked. @DanGrazianoESPN: You're right that Rueben Randle had been having a quiet preseason, as had almost everyone on that Giants' first-team offense. Which is why it was nice for the Giants to see Randle cap off Friday night's first-half touchdown drive with that 15-yard touchdown catch from Eli Manning. Randle is a key component of what they need to do on offense this season. As of right now, he's the most established threat they have on the outside with Victor Cruz in the slot. Mario Manningham looks to be slowed by his knee problems, Odell Beckham Jr. has been sidelined all camp with his hamstring problems, and they're looking for answers out there. If they can truly count on Randle to play well and be consistent, that's a massive help. For me, he's miscast in this new offense, since he's more of a vertical threat and they want to operate in short range. But if he can use his size to create separation quickly and win his matchups, he could be a major factor. We haven't seen enough this preseason to know which way to bet on that. @DanGrazianoESPN: I don't think so, but obviously it's more precarious for Tom Coughlin now than it was a year ago. If the Giants miss the playoffs again, that would be five times in the last six years, and you do start to wonder how much longer the fact that they won the Super Bowl in the other carries him. I have thought since that Super Bowl that Coughlin would coach this team as long as he wanted to. And in truth, he's one of the best coaches in the league and they're unlikely to be able to replace him with a better one. But if things bottom out here and they start having to think about Eli Manning and his future with the team, there exists the possibility that they decide to start from scratch with new leadership. It's not something they want to think about, but it's not out of the question. As for Manning, he's signed through 2015, and he's unlikely to be replaced next offseason or at all. Again, they're not likely to find a clear upgrade on the market. If they go 8-8 and miss the playoffs, I imagine they'd avoid sweeping changes. But if they fall apart and go 4-12 or something like that, all bets are off. @DanGrazianoESPN: It was very interesting that Marcus Harris got (by my count) eight snaps as an outside receiver with the first-team offense Friday night. It was very unfortunate for Harris that he hurt his shoulder and now may not be able to cash in on the opportunity the Giants clearly wanted to give him. He said after the game that his shoulder injury should only cost him 3-to-4 weeks and that he hopes it doesn't cost him a roster spot. But we shall see. As for Corey Washington, who's now caught a second-half touchdown in all four of the Giants' preseason games, it's telling that he wasn't in the game Friday until the fourth quarter. That tells me they rank him behind other options right now, including Harris, Manningham, Jerrel Jernigan and others, in spite of his height and his strong performance so far in preseason games. I've been putting Washington on my Monday roster projections, and honestly he'd be hard to get through waivers after catching four preseason touchdown passes, so he might make it for that reason. But there's still a lot to sort out for the Giants at receiver. Thanks for your questions and enjoy the remainder of your Saturday.
INDIANAPOLIS -- They said all the requisite things about how much fun it was to score 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and come back to beat the Indianapolis Colts 27-26 in Saturday night's preseason game. But the New York Giants still aren't happy about the way their first-team offense has performed this preseason, and honestly they shouldn't be.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesEli Manning will probably have just one more opportunity in the preseason to get the Giants' offense in shape.
"We are realists, and looking at what looked to be a very poor performance in the first half with the 1s that didn't really get a lot better once the 2s came in," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It wasn't impressive at all. We didn't get a whole lot done. There's no production. There's nothing to look at from a production standpoint."

Quarterback Eli Manning was 1-for-7 Saturday night after going 0-for-2 in the preseason game a week earlier against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The first-team offense looked lost once again, with most of the short-range and mid-range passes missing their targets. They tried a few downfield shots with mixed results. Victor Cruz caught one but fumbled it away, and then the whole thing was nullified by a Colts penalty. Jerrel Jernigan seemed to have his man beat a few plays later, and Manning threw to him, but the defender caught up with Jernigan and knocked the ball away.

The run game didn't do much this time either. And in spite of the return of left tackle Will Beatty from his leg injury rehab, the offensive line looked once again like a group still working on coming together -- which is what it is.

"Still figuring out what's going to be our style of football, which concepts are going to work the best for us and all of those things," Manning said. "Each game, something comes up that's new, and we've got to make sure we're on the same page as [offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo] and we're seeing eye to eye."

Manning said he does see progress, even though it's not readily apparent to those of us watching from the outside.

"I think there's progress being made, just in understanding the offense," Manning said. "We made some checks and some calls today that got everybody on the same page. We've just got to execute it at a higher level. But the mental capacity of it, speeding it up, I think those things are getting better. I think we were just a few plays from being OK tonight."

The question is whether three more weeks will be enough to get the offense in shape for games that count. The Giants open the regular season with a Monday Night Football game Sept. 8 against the Lions in Detroit. Manning is likely to play somewhat extensively in Friday night's preseason game against the Jets, but perhaps not at all in the following week's preseason finale against the Patriots. So he has one more chance to show himself, his team, his coaches and the rest of the outside world the way that progress looks when it comes to fruition against a live opponent. Otherwise, it's going to be a leap of faith once the regular season begins.

Giants Camp Report: Day 15

August, 13, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. continues to make significant progress from the hamstring injury that has held him out of practice since the first day of camp. The team's first-round pick even took a couple of snaps Wednesday in 11-on-11 drills and caught a touchdown pass on one of them. Giants coach Tom Coughlin didn't even rule out the possibility that Beckham could play in Saturday's preseason game in Indianapolis, though I have to think that's a long shot and that next Friday against the Jets is more likely.
  • Coughlin said left tackle Will Beatty and cornerback Trumaine McBride, who have been practicing but didn't play in the first two preseason games as part of the plan for their recoveries from offseason surgery, would play Saturday. He said to expect Beatty to play about as much as a starting offensive lineman would play in a first preseason game of the year. For comparison's sake, Geoff Schwartz and J.D. Walton played 20 snaps in the Hall of Fame Game, and right tackle Justin Pugh played 24.
  • Cornerback Walter Thurmond continues to dazzle, and I have to think it will be a huge relief for Giants slot receiver Victor Cruz to go up against whoever the Detroit Lions are using as a nickel cornerback Sept. 8 in Detroit. Thurmond's highlight plays Wednesday included a pass breakup on which he had tight end Larry Donnell blanketed over the middle and a stop on running back Rashad Jennings when Jennings caught a pass in the flat.
  • Other highlight plays: Rookie linebacker Devon Kennard knocking rookie running back Andre Williams to the ground in the backfield on a run play; Rueben Randle's acrobatic catch in the corner of the end zone against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in one-on-one goal-line drills; Rookie cornerback Bennett Jackson ripping the ball out of wide receiver Travis Harvey's hands at the end of a long pass play; Interceptions of Curtis Painter by Mark Herzlich and Chandler Fenner in early team drills.
  • Wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan was back at practice after sitting out Monday and Tuesday with a knee injury. New to the list of injured players sitting out practice was cornerback Zack Bowman (unclear what his injury was). Also sitting out were running back Peyton Hillis (ankle), tight end Xavier Grimble (hamstring), tight end Daniel Fells (knee), return man Trindon Holliday (hamstring) and defensive tackle Mike Patterson (shoulder).
  • Cruz, who had some knee issues in practice this week, seemed completely fine and appeared to do everything in Wednesday's relatively short practice.
  • Though they will continue to practice here next week as they have been, Thursday marks the final official day of Giants training camp. That means Thursday's 1:20 pm practice will be the final practice of the year that is open to the public. So take off work and come out to say hi. Tell your boss I said it was okay.

Giants Camp Report: Day 14

August, 12, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Wide receiver Victor Cruz is worth watching over the next couple of days. He missed practice Monday with a knee issue, and while he returned to practice Tuesday, he went down in a collision with a defensive back in one-on-one drills and was limping a bit when he got up. He returned to practice and caught a long pass in double coverage a few plays later, but he wasn't on the field very much for the two-minute drill that ended practice on a field that was starting to get slippery due to light rain. It goes without saying that the Giants' wide receiver corps, which is littered with unproven entities, could not stand to lose Cruz.
  • Some injured guys are working their way back, though. Rookie receiver Odell Beckham made good on his promise to keep progressing from his hamstring injury. He worked in individual drills Tuesday and was the intended target on one of quarterback Eli Manning's interceptions in 7-on-7 drills. Also catching passes was tight end Daniel Fells, who'd missed some time earlier in camp with a knee injury. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo named Fells and Larry Donnell when asked who among the tight end group has stood out so far. Donnell has been the No. 1 tight end on the depth chart all camp, but Fells has the best chance of anyone to overtake him from what I've seen.
  • Second-year safety Cooper Taylor continues to impress. He kept running back Rashad Jennings from getting around the corner on one run play I noticed in team drills.
  • Veteran defensive end Israel Idonije, who signed last week, could be getting a legitimate look for a roster spot. He's been getting some defensive end reps, and it helps his cause that Idonije is a player who can contribute at a high level on special teams, where he's been working a lot. Just something to keep an eye on.
  • Wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan (knee), return man Trindon Holliday (hamstring), fullback John Conner (concussion), running back Peyton Hillis (ankle), defensive tackle Mike Patterson (shoulder), cornerback Jayron Hosley (foot) and tight end Xavier Grimble (hamstring) all sat out. Coach Tom Coughlin said Conner looks as though he could practice this week and that Hillis' progress is "slow."
  • Former Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress was a guest at practice Tuesday and watched from the sideline.
  • The Giants practice from 1:20 pm to 3:30 pm ET on Wednesday. Practice is open to the public.
For Saturday night's New York Giants preseason game, I set out to chart the offensive personnel groupings for every play. Figuring preseason results are meaningless, my goal was to try to see what the Giants are doing on offense in terms of setup. It struck me that they rotated personnel in and out somewhat liberally in the preseason opener against the Bills last Sunday, so I figured it'd be worth trying to track it if possible. I charted every play that featured Eli Manning or Ryan Nassib at quarterback. By the time Curtis Painter got into the game, I had started writing my postgame observations post. So I don't have those plays charted.

 Overall, it wasn't as interesting as I'd hoped it would be. Especially for the first half, the Giants did very little substituting on offense, staying basically in that "11" personnel setup with three wide receivers, one back and one tight end. But there were a couple of things that stood out to me:
  • Larry Donnell is the No. 1 tight end right now. He was on the field for all but one play in the first half, and on that play there were no tight ends on the field. Kellen Davis appeared on the field four times in the first half, and all four were two-tight-end sets with Donnell also on the field. No other tight end played in the first half.
  • Marcus Harris, the surprise early camp star at wide receiver, is getting a long look in the slot. Harris was on the field for 18 of the plays I charted, and on 15 of those there was a receiver lined up outside of him. Jerrel Jernigan would normally be the backup slot receiver behind Victor Cruz, but Jernigan is starting right now in the outside spot that's slated for injured rookie Odell Beckham Jr.
  • Cruz, by the way, played the slot almost exclusively. He was on the field for 12 plays, and on only one of those did he line up in an outside spot. Though there was one other on which he lined up in the slot and motioned to the right side, where there had been no receiver lined up.
  • The Giants used a fullback on only five plays in the first half, which provides support for the idea that they could build a 53-man roster that doesn't include one, especially if they want to go tight end-heavy. I saw two plays in the first half on which Donnell motioned into the backfield and lined up as a fullback or H-back. John Conner was already in the game at fullback on one of those plays, and there was no fullback on the other.
  • They got a little more creative with two-tight end sets in the second half. I counted two plays that had Davis and Adrien Robinson on the field together, including one on which they were lined up on the same side and bunched tight to the line along with wide receiver Preston Parker. I'm interested to see more of the bunch formations involving wide receivers, and I wonder if we might once Beckham is in the lineup. They're undersized, for the most part, at wide receiver, and bunching two or three of them together at the snap is a way of helping get littler guys open by creating confusion in the defense.
  • I counted four more two-tight end sets involving Robinson and Jerome Cunningham, including three in which they were lined up on the same side. So those looks are definitely in the playbook, they just weren't using them much with the first team.
  • The second-team offensive line was: LT James Brewer, LG Dallas Reynolds, C Weston Richburg, RG John Jerry, RT Rogers Gaines. It was interesting that Reynolds went in at center and Richburg at left guard when the starting offensive linemen came off the field late in the first half, but they switched places once the second half started. Brewer also finished the first half at right tackle in place of starter Justin Pugh and then moved to the left side for the second half.

A quiet night for Eli Manning

August, 10, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants wanted quarterback Eli Manning to play about as many plays (16) or more Saturday night than he did in their first preseason game. He did not.

Manning
Manning was in the game for four offensive series but only 12 plays. He threw two passes and completed neither of them. He did not get as much work as they'd hoped he would, but his explanation for that was basically that it happens that way sometimes.

"We just had limited opportunities," Manning said. "So I think we'll try to learn from it and understand that it's the preseason and not everything is going to be perfect. We definitely have some stuff to look at and get better on a few things."

Manning opened the game with an incomplete pass to Jerrel Jernigan. The next play was a 3-yard Rashad Jennings run, then an offsides penalty cut a third-and-7 to third-and-2 but the third-down pass to Larry Donnell fell incomplete and they punted.

Surely, at that point, Manning believed he'd throw at least one more pass.

But the second possession was brief, as Jennings ran 73 yards for a touchdown on the first play. When the Giants got the ball back for their third offensive series, Manning was sacked for a loss of eight yards on first down and was all of a sudden backed up on the 4-yard line. At that point, and at that spot on the field, they didn't want to take any chances, so they ran it twice with Jennings and punted again.

On the fourth possession, the Giants opened with a run and got called for two holding penalties and a false start, which put them in second-and-28 from their own 11. Again, conservative runs to avoid disaster were the plays of choice.

Manning did switch the call at the line to a run play on Jennings' long touchdown run, which was a good play for him even though it doesn't go on his stats. He saw a double-team on the left side of his line and called a play that brought right guard Brandon Mosley around to pull. Mosley, left tackle Charles Brown and center J.D. Walton all delivered on their blocks and Jennings ran through a massive hole all the way to the end zone.

"It seems like we're getting good push, and whenever you have a running back break a long one for 70 yards or 80 yards, whatever it was, that's a great thing," Manning said. "Hopefully we can hit a few more of those and also be a little bit more consistent offensively."

As for that 0-for-2 stat line, it drew a patented Manning shrug.

"Preseason game? Yeah, I'm not totally shocked," Manning said. "Obviously, it's not the ideal situation, but when you only have two attempts, there's that possibility."

Manning is likely to see an increased number of snaps next Saturday night when the Giants play their third preseason game in Indianapolis against the Colts.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Hey there! What better way to spend the morning of the New York Giants' second preseason game than by reading through a mailbag produced by your use of the #nygmail hashtag on Twitter? I think it was Churchill who said that, but I'm not 100 percent sure. Anyways.

@DanGrazianoESPN: Brown looks just fine, as though nothing ever happened. The knee injury happened during a preseason game last year, so he's had just about a full year to recover, and he was at the Giants' facility throughout last season and through the winter and spring rehabbing the knee. Brown told me recently that it was January or February when he jumped to catch a ball in a rehab drill and landed hard on his left leg without even thinking about it. Since then he's felt good, and he's practicing in full as though it never happened. The Giants want to be able to switch him and Antrel Rolle off, and so we have seen Brown playing down in the box more against the run than he did when he was Mr. Interception in 2012. So far, so good with Stevie.

@DanGrazianoESPN: There's no real replacing what David Wilson would have brought to the run game had his career not ended this week because of repeated neck injuries. There's no other back on the roster who has anything resembling Wilson's uncommon speed or explosiveness. It's not as though they'll just plug Andre Williams or Michael Cox or Kendall Gaskins or Peyton Hillis into the plays that were designed for Wilson. Rashad Jennings is the clear starter at running back, and my sense from 30 days out is that they'd love it if the rookie Williams could advance to the point where he's the No. 2. If he can't, then it's Hillis (assuming he heals from a sprained ankle in time) or someone else -- maybe even someone not yet on the team. But as far as the back who goes in when Jennings needs a break, my sense is they'd love for it to be Williams, but he has to show them he's ready to handle that responsibility. He runs quite well with the ball in his hands, but he's not really a complete back in terms of being able to contribute in the passing game just yet. How quickly he develops in that area will determine how much they can use him this year.

@DanGrazianoESPN: We're doing roster projections every Monday morning throughout camp, and so far all of mine have had five wide receivers. This is because I believe the Giants want to carry four tight ends and a fullback, and even with only two quarterbacks, that really only leaves room for five wide receivers. Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan are sure things, and at this point I'd probably give the fifth spot to Marcus Harris. But the remaining weeks could obviously change things and even expand that group to six. They want to keep four tight ends, but given what they have there, it's entirely possible they could decide they don't have four worth keeping and they're better off adding an extra wideout instead. On the flip side, if their tight ends show enough in the intervening weeks, they could decide to go without a fullback and add another wideout. So as of now, I think five, but it could end up being six depending on how things shake out with the other position groups.

@DanGrazianoESPN: I think the most impressive player in Giants camp so far is cornerback Walter Thurmond, who's been making life miserable for slot receiver Victor Cruz in practice. Thurmond could be a difference-maker at that nickel corner position for the Giants this year. The most disappointing is obviously first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr., who hasn't practiced since the first day because of a hamstring injury. Ditto return man Trindon Holliday, who also remains out with a hamstring injury and now looks unlikely to make the team. And while I don't think expectations for him were overly high, I haven't see Brandon Mosley do very much with his opportunity to handle the starting right guard spot. Though I guess there you'd also have to say injured John Jerry is a disappointment because he can't get on the field to challenge Mosley for that spot. Thanks for the questions. I'll chat at you from the MetLife Stadium press box in a few hours. 
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Marcus Harris hurt his leg in Wednesday night's New York Giants practice and stayed down on the sideline while trainers attended to him. But he got up and eventually went back in. Harris wore a wrap on the leg Thursday afternoon, but he was absolutely planning to practice again Thursday night, and he absolutely did.

"I couldn't stay down too long," Harris said before Thursday's practice. "There's a lot of receivers out already. I had to get up and get back on the field."

[+] EnlargeMarcus Harris
AP Photo/Seth WenigWith several Giants receivers nursing injuries, Marcus Harris has taken advantage of his opportunities to stand out.
Harris isn't kidding, and what he didn't say was that the fact that so many Giants wide receivers are missing practice time means more and more opportunity for someone like him to show what he can do. So far this training camp, Odell Beckham Jr., Jerrel Jernigan, Rueben Randle and Trindon Holliday have all missed practice time due to injury. Mario Manningham is a limited participant every day, and his knee doesn't seem to be getting better. All of this adds up to the strong possibility of an open roster spot for Harris to pursue, and right now he's pursuing the heck out of it.

"He's stayed out there," coach Tom Coughlin said. "He's a tough kid. He's had some nicks, but he's out there every day. He works hard at it, he can help on special teams. He caught the ball well (Wednesday), as you saw, and he's usually in the right spot."

That's what has stood out most about Harris -- his ability to make the right cut, create space from defenders and get open to catch the ball. The Giants' defense -- the secondary in particular -- has dominated the offense in most practices so far. But Harris, who spent last year on the Giants' practice squad, has managed to make his presence felt. He was the team's leading receiver in the preseason game Sunday night against Buffalo, and he'd like to continue to get such opportunities.

"You dream about things like this, and right now I feel like it's at my feet," Harris said. "I just need to keep going and going and get better."

Harris was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Murray State by the Detroit Lions in 2011. He spent that season on Detroit's practice squad, but the Lions released him the following summer. He went to camp with the Tennessee Titans in 2012 but didn't make their team, so he played in the UFL and the Arena League that season. The Giants signed him last summer and kept him on their practice squad all year, and at the age of 25 he may just be about to get his first real NFL shot.

"I think Marcus Harris, from the game he had and streaming into practice, he's really been taking advantage of his opportunity with a couple guys being down," Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz said Wednesday. "He's really coming to the forefront here as a good player, and he's definitely one of the guys who's been standing out."

Cruz said he has a special place in his heart for the undrafted, small-school wide receivers, because he remembers fighting his way onto the Giants' roster with a big preseason in 2010, when he was an undrafted free agent out of Massachusetts.

Harris, whose nickname "Soup" was given to him by high school teammate Jeremy Maclin, now of the Philadelphia Eagles, said Cruz is an inspiration to all of the young wide receivers trying to scrap their way onto the Giants' roster.

"It's a great thing to have a guy like that, because he knows exactly where we're coming from because he was us," Harris said. "It's just like a big ego boost, because he's a great friend, don't get me wrong, but he's also a great person to look up to. I respect him a lot."

With Beckham, Holliday and maybe Jernigan still on the shelf for Saturday night's preseason game against the Steelers, Harris could see a lot more chances to dazzle. And with a month to go before the final roster cuts are made, he has more than just a glimmer of hope.

Giants Camp Report: Day 7

July, 29, 2014
7/29/14
7:30
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Unfortunately, the news of the day was injuries, headlined by running back David Wilson's neck burner. The Giants sent Wilson to New York and the Hospital for Special Surgery for a full battery of tests because they want to be as careful as possible with his neck as he's coming off spinal fusion surgery and only last week was cleared for full practice. It's possible this turns out just to be a low-level scare, but it's important to take every possible precaution given the recent history with Wilson and his neck. By comparison, the nagging hamstring troubles that kept Odell Beckham Jr., Rueben Randle, Xavier Grimble and Trindon Holliday sidelined seem like minor issues.
  • Interesting practice for Larry Donnell, who's still No. 1 on the team's tight end depth chart and possibly in the coaches' hearts. He fumbled a ball near the goal line after one catch, but then got back up and made a leaping, one-handed touchdown grab in the back right corner of the end zone on the next play. All of the tight ends (except the injured Grimble) are getting lots of run, and they're all getting their share of first-team reps. There are a lot of formations the Giants are using in practice in which two tight ends are on the field at the same time, and they're lined up all over the place. They really need one or two guys to step forward from this group.
  • Jerrel Jernigan dropped three punts that my "NFL Insiders" colleague Field Yates and I counted during punt-return drills. That's not good, and with Beckham and Holliday unable to return punts we're seeing a lot of David Wilson (before he had to leave), Victor Cruz (who's not going to do it in games) and Charles James on the punt return unit. Maybe that's a way for James to sneak onto the roster, who knows? It was good to see Field, regardless.
  • Humorous highlights included a halfback pass from Peyton Hillis to Donnell that, shockingly, fell incomplete and a Trumaine McBride interception of Curtis Painter that he ran back for a touchdown with fellow corners Prince Amukamara and Walter Thurmond rushing off the sidelines and accompanying him home. I also thought it was funny that Jason Pierre-Paul joined in the defensive backs' post-practice huddle but left because their motivational chants are growing too complicated. Pierre-Paul continues to look fantastic in practice, by the way.
  • And I haven't been charting each and every rep, but it seemed to me that John Jerry got more time at first-team right guard Tuesday than he has been. Brandon Mosley's still the main guy there, and certainly has an opportunity to hold off Jerry and claim the spot for his own. But they do like Jerry and want to give him a look as his surgically repaired knee allows.
  • The Giants are off Wednesday and return to practice Thursday.

Giants Camp Report: Day 4

July, 25, 2014
7/25/14
8:30
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:


  • Man, the Giants' offense looks like hot garbage right now. Eli Manning threw a ball so badly to Jerrel Jernigan that Antrel Rolle and Prince Amukamara almost killed each other as they collided to try to intercept it. Ryan Nassib (to Charles James) and Curtis Painter (to Mark Herzlich) also threw picks. There was a play in which Manning tripped over the feet of running back Rashad Jennings and fell to the ground. (He got right up, don't worry.) Kendall Gaskins fumbled a ball and coach Tom Coughlin began screaming and cursing at the top of his lungs, wheeling on the offensive players who were standing on the sideline and not in the drill and yelling, "Hang onto the [bleep-bleep] ball!" over and over. Mario Manningham beat Walter Thurmond on a slant route for a nice catch, but Thurmond stayed with the play and knocked the ball out of his hands. I mean, ugly. Still way early, but tough to watch.
  • This was the first day they practiced in shoulder pads, and the first thing I saw when I went out to the field to watch was rookie running back Andre Williams absolutely lay out linebacker Justin Anderson in a one-on-one kick-return drill. It was as though Williams was taking out all of his frustrations about Thursday's dropped passes on poor Anderson. But everyone was feisty. At the end of one drill, linebacker Dan Fox playfully tackled GM Jerry Reese, who was watching by the goal post.
  • Things that are real that you wouldn't have expected: Rookie linebacker Devon Kennard is a guy the coaches and other players continue to rave about, and Brandon McManus remains a threat to take the kicker's job from Josh Brown. McManus is 8-for-8 on field goals so far, was making them easily from long distance Friday and looks more powerful on kickoffs, which ends up mattering to coaches in a big way when these decisions are made. If it's close on the field goals, they take the guy who can kick it out of the back of the end zone. Field position matters.
  • Still no Odell Beckham Jr., and no word on when his hamstring will allow him to practice. Yes, the Giants are frustrated that their first-round pick is not on the field.
  • Keep an eye on Preston Parker, a third-year wide receiver out of Florida State who had legal trouble in college and has bounced around. The Giants are using him a lot with the first-team offense and on returns.

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