New York Giants: Louis Murphy

Nobody wants to talk about Hakeem Nicks

November, 18, 2013
Hakeem Nicks' continued absence from the New York Giants' passing game remains one of the team's most nettlesome issues, even as the Giants have won four games in a row to dip their toe into the NFC East race. A clearly frustrated Nicks sat out a few plays Sunday, tagging out in favor of Louis Murphy, who helped cause an interception with a bad route, and sitting off by himself until some teammates went over to talk to him.

After the game, Nicks downplayed the incident, saying it was "just football," which it clearly was not. Football was being played on the field, and Nicks was not there. So whatever was going on with him was something other than football. He said he was not injured on the play a short time earlier on which the Packers' Tramon Williams was called for pass interference when the two collided. Several other Giants have hinted over the past 24 hours that whatever the situation was with Nicks, it was unusual and not one they're interested in discussing.

"That’s not something I’m going to discuss," coach Tom Coughlin said Monday. "What I did see was the play that resulted in an interception that everybody saw and the play before that, but those things will stay inside and we’ll make the corrections and we’ll do a better job of trying to get everybody on the same page and we’ll move forward."

Weird, but everything about Nicks' situation this year is weird. Playing in a contract year, he has yet to catch a touchdown pass, has not shown an explosive ability to run downfield and separate from defenders and has not been a major asset to Eli Manning in the passing game. The Giants and Nicks continue to insist he will come around, but 10 games are in the books with only six to go, and if he's going to snap out of it in time to help the Giants keep winning and/or get himself a fat new contract, he's going to have to do it soon.

Coughlin said he believed Nicks was experiencing frustration.

"I’m sure that there is, and we all share in that," Coughlin said. "We'll just continue to try to support and encourage him to be the best that he can be and it will happen. There have been opportunities, but we’ve just got to continue to try to get better, work together and it will happen."

Upon Further Review: Giants Week 11

November, 18, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- An examination of four hot issues from the New York Giants' 27-13 victory against the Green Bay Packers:

Anatomy of a game-changer: Linebacker Jon Beason said part of the scouting report on the Packers' Scott Tolzien was that the ball came out of his hand on a low trajectory. So if the Packers were going to be taking three-step drops all night, as they were, the Giants' pass-rushers were instructed to get their hands up quickly to try to bat down the ball. Jason Pierre-Paul knew this, and he said he also knew, right before that fourth-quarter play, that Tolzien was going to throw a screen pass to his side of the field. So Pierre-Paul stayed home instead of rushing and threw his hands up in the air. But he didn't want to bat down the ball; he wanted to catch it. Which he did. And then he ran 24 yards for the game-sealing touchdown.

Don't blame Eli for this one: Eli Manning's second-quarter interception was his league-leading 17th of the year, but it was clearly not his fault. Wide receiver Louis Murphy was supposed to break inside -- Giants coach Tom Coughlin said there was no option on the route, and that Murphy just blew it. What was weirder, though, was that Murphy was on the field instead of Hakeem Nicks, who appeared to hurt himself on a play earlier in the drive on which Tramon Williams was called for pass interference. Nicks sat out a few plays, and after the Murphy blunder some teammates went over to talk to and encourage Nicks, who returned to the game on the next drive and didn't want to talk after the game about what was bothering him.

Getting the ball: After allowing an average of only 206.3 yards per game during the first three games of their winning streak, the Giants gave up 394 to the Packers on Sunday. But they also got three turnovers, giving them a total of 11 during their four-game winning streak after forcing only seven during the first six games of the year. They have won the turnover battle in three of their past four games.

Looking ahead: Pierre-Paul said of the Cowboys, who come to town next week, "We're going to put it on them, man." Brandon Jacobs said, "Playing the Cowboys is always good. That's one of the opponents I love to play more than anybody in the National Football League. It means something to our football team." The Giants moved the ball against a relatively full-strength Cowboys defense in Week 1 but lost mainly because they turned it over six times. They are eager for revenge against a Cowboys defense that will be without middle linebacker Sean Lee. If the Giants' offensive line can protect Manning, the game could be a shootout. That's a big "if," but Manning's 279 passing yards Sunday were his most since Week 5, his 71.4 completion percentage was by far his highest of the season and his 92.4 passer rating was his highest since the opener in Dallas.

David Wilson is ready for more work

August, 30, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In the wake of Andre Brown's latest injury -- a left leg fracture suffered in the New York Giants' preseason finale Thursday night in New England -- running back David Wilson is prepared to work. Third-down carries, goal-line carries ... whatever they've got for him, Wilson wants it.

"I'm in shape, so I think I can handle it," the second-year back said Friday afternoon of the prospect of an increased workload. "Whatever they need me to do, I'll do. If they need me to kick a field goal, I'm going to go out there and give it 100 percent and try and make that field goal."

[+] EnlargeDavid Wilson
AP Photo/Julio CortezDavid Wilson will have to grind out tough yards for the Giants with Andre Brown injured.
It's not likely they'll need that, but Wilson could well get more touchdowns for whatever length of time Brown is out. Brown was the Giants' goal-line running back last year, collecting eight touchdowns in only 10 games before a more severe leg break ended his season early, and he was ticketed for that role again this year. But that assignment had more to do with how good Brown is at it than any concern over Wilson's ability to handle goal-line work.

"David Wilson, he runs in there hard," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He's powerful. He's compact. He has tremendous leg strength. So for him to run the ball on short yardage and the goal line, I don't have any problem with that."

It's true that Wilson's electric speed and his relative short stature (he's listed at 5-foot-9, 205 pounds) contribute to a reputation that he's a finesse back. But when you watch him run between the tackles, it's easy to see that he runs with power.

"Don't get confused by my size," Wilson said. "I'm a physical guy. I'm from the country. I grew up chopping wood. I'm well put together."

So that shouldn't be an issue. The larger one is that Brown was the back the Giants were using on third downs and in critical pass-protection situations. The departure of Ahmad Bradshaw, who rates as one of the top pass-protection running backs in the league, has created a void in that area, and it seemed as though the Giants coaches were more comfortable with Brown picking up blitzes than they were with Wilson doing it.

But Wilson did a good job of that Thursday night, picking up a blitzing Patriots safety on a play that resulted in a 37-yard pass play from Eli Manning to Louis Murphy, and he said he's considerably more comfortable with the protection schemes than he was a year ago or even a month ago. He's been watching tape of Bradshaw and applying lessons Bradshaw and Brown have tried to teach him about blitz-pickup technique over the past year.

"He's done a pretty good job of that," Coughlin said. "The last couple of games, he's improved. He's a much improved player, much more aware of what he has to do to contribute in the entire pass-protection scheme."

Coughlin did say they wanted to monitor Wilson's snaps this year, and that there is a number they have in mind for him that won't change just because of Brown's injury. But it's possible the Giants could move more toward a "bell cow" running back scheme, with Wilson getting the vast majority of the significant carries while backups such as Ryan Torain, Da'Rel Scott and Michael Cox contribute when he needs a rest. Coughlin also said the team was awaiting the results of further tests on Brown's leg to determine how long he'd be out, and that roster cuts and the decision on whether to seek outside help at running back would wait until they had all of the information on Brown.

Meantime, Wilson is fine with whatever they throw at him. He wouldn't even mind if they gave him back those kick-return duties in which he was so explosive a year ago.

"We're still waiting for the verdict," Wilson said. "Michael Cox has been doing a pretty good job with it, so we'll see. I still want it, but if somebody's going to take advantage like he is, that's all right, too."

Rapid Reaction: Patriots 28, Giants 20

August, 29, 2013

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.

Injury report: Louis Murphy back to work

August, 27, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Giants got one of their injured wide receivers back on the field Tuesday, as Louis Murphy did some work after being sidelined in recent days with a leg injury.

Murphy did have to leave practice briefly, but that was due to a contact lens issue, not because of his leg. The speedy Murphy looked good in training camp, and could be another weapon at the disposal of Eli Manning.

On the other hand, wideout Ramses Barden (knee) did not practice Tuesday, after returning to practice Monday. Cornerback Jayron Hosley (ankle) and defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee) also did not practice. All three did some running and/or agility drills on the side.

Wide receiver Victor Cruz (heel) did not practice, but spoke to reporters.

Offensive linemen David Baas (knee) and David Diehl (thumb) did not practice. When asked about Baas, coach Tom Coughlin said, "He’s working hard, and feels a little bit better each day."

Rookie defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder) got some team reps Tuesday, after returning to practice and doing only individual work Monday. And rookie safety Cooper Taylor (hamstring), who has missed the team's first three preseason games, continued to work as well.

Coughlin indicated Taylor will play against the Patriots on Thursday, but wasn't as confident about Moore. "I don’t know; we’ll see," Coughlin said. "I’d like for him to play."

Injury report: Cruz sheds boot, crutches

August, 26, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants wideout Victor Cruz's bruised heel has improved to the point where he no longer needs a protective walking boot or crutches.

A source confirmed Cruz has shed the boot and crutches, which was first reported by the Newark Star-Ledger. Cruz hopes to return to practice sometime next week, before the regular-season opener against the Cowboys on Sept. 8.

Cruz injured his heel in the team's second preseason game against the Colts.

Welcome back: Safety Antrel Rolle and cornerback Corey Webster were back on the practice field Monday. Rolle is recovering from a sprained ankle, and Webster is coming off groin and knee injuries.

Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul went through individual drills after coming off the PUP list Monday, and rookie defensive end Damontre Moore also participated in individual drills. Moore has been out since his impressive preseason debut two weeks ago because of a shoulder injury.

"I hope so," coach Tom Coughlin said, when asked whether Moore is close to returning. "We’ll have to take a picture of him again (since he has been out for so long). He came out and he was excited to be out here."

DNP: Cornerback Jayron Hosley was unable to practice after injuring his ankle Saturday against the Jets. Wide receiver Louis Murphy (leg) and offensive lineman David Diehl (thumb) also did not practice.

Injury report: Thomas will play Saturday

August, 21, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- Terrell Thomas will make his season debut on Saturday against the Jets.

Head coach Tom Coughlin has been impressed with Thomas in the last couple of practices. Working largely against slot receivers, Thomas had an interception in practice on Wednesday and has been moving well.

"He looked good yesterday moving around out there, really moved well today," Coughlin said. "He is going to go [on Saturday]. He will play."

The Giants can use Thomas on the field against the Jets. Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle have not been practicing due to injuries. Both have been working on the side. Coughlin said Webster's issue has been soreness with a MCL and groin injuries but that the veteran cornerback is "getting close."

Rolle is also nearing a return to practice. He tested his ankle on Tuesday on the side by backpedaling and moving forward and side to side.

"I'm going to return to the practice field whenever I'm ready," Rolle said. "Whenever I can go out there and feel like I'm not favoring it. Right now we're ahead of schedule and things are going good."

"I don't think I expected myself to be out here, running, doing little drills, cutting and so forth and so on," he later added. "I had a preview of that yesterday and it felt alright. I can't say it felt 100 percent, but it felt alright."

Defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder), center David Baas (knee), wide receivers Victor Cruz (heel), Ramses Barden (knee) and Louis Murphy (leg) did not practice as well.

Injury report: Tuck practices

August, 20, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Justin Tuck suffered a mild hamstring injury on Sunday against the Colts but was back on the practice field on Tuesday.

The defensive end worked in practice and appears to be good. The Giants, though, are banged up elsewhere.

Besides Victor Cruz (bruised heel) and David Baas (left MCL sprain) (both on crutches), the Giants have offensive lineman David Diehl wearing a protective cast over his right hand to protect a thumb injury.

Wide receivers Louis Murphy (leg) and Ramses Barden (knee) both did not practice on Tuesday.

"Murphy’s here but he has a sore leg," Tom Coughlin said. "They’re going to do all the tests on him and see what the problem is."

Adrian Tracy also had to leave practice on a cart. Coughlin said he believed Tracy was suffering from dehydration.

Safety Cooper Taylor (hamstring) did return to practice. Wide receivers Jerrel Jernigan and Brandon Collins did practice.

Defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder), safety Antrel Rolle (ankle) and cornerback Corey Webster (soreness) did not practice. But Rolle moved very well in individual drills and is nearing a return to practice.

Camp preview: Wide receivers

July, 17, 2013

As training camp approaches, we're counting down to camp by taking a look at the Giants, position by position.

Position: Wide receiver.

Projected starters: Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning and Hakeem Nicks
Jim O'Conno/USA TODAY SportsEli Manning and the Giants will have reason to smile if Hakeem Nicks is healthy in 2013.
Projected reserves: Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy, Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden.

New faces: Murphy, Brandon Collins, Jeremy Horne, Kris Adams, Kevin Hardy, Keith Carlos.

The departed: Domenik Hixon.

Player to watch: How important is Nicks? Though their defensive struggles were a major factor in the Giants' disappointing 2012, a healthy Nicks could've been the difference between the Giants winning 10 games and making the playoffs and winning nine games and missing the postseason. Nicks, who missed three games and struggled with foot and knee injuries, opens things up for Cruz and will be highly motivated to excel in a contract year. If Nicks is healthy again, the Giants and Eli Manning should be running on all cylinders.

Potential strength: The Giants could potentially be as deep as they have been at wide receiver in some time. Nicks and Cruz make up one of the best receiving tandems in the NFL, and offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride raved about Randle's progress during OTAs and minicamp. On top of that, the Giants believe Murphy has the type of speed to give them an over-the-top threat that could make an already dangerous passing attack even more potent. During OTAs, the Giants worked on the long ball with Murphy while Cruz and Nicks skipped the voluntary workouts. They are also hoping Jernigan can provide another speedy option from time to time.

Potential weakness: Health is always a concern with the Giants. But when one receiver goes down, Manning usually makes things work with the next receiver in line. One potential weakness is experience. Super Bowl champions Nicks and Cruz have caught big-time passes on the biggest stage there is. But outside of that duo, the Giants don't have a ton of experience at receiver. Randle had just 19 catches during his rookie season. Murphy has started a total of six games in the last two seasons. Jernigan and Barden have limited experience as well, although Barden delivered in a start against Carolina last year.

Wild card: Randle showed in the season finale against Philadelphia last year that the Giants could have another potent receiving trio, like the one they had with Nicks, Cruz and Mario Manningham. The last time Manning had that at his disposal, he won his second Super Bowl MVP trophy.

Tell us what you think of the Giants' receivers entering camp.

Camp preview: Quarterbacks

July, 15, 2013
Eli Manning Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesThe success of the Giants lies on Eli Manning's shoulders.
We're counting down to training camp with a look at the Giants, position by position, starting with quarterback.

Position: Quarterback.

Projected starter: Eli Manning.

Projected reserves: David Carr, Ryan Nassib.

New faces: Nassib, Curtis Painter.

The departed: None.

Player to watch: Manning. As Eli goes, so do the Giants. Manning has proven that he is an elite quarterback thanks to his two Super Bowl rings. But he has to play more consistently than he did last year for the Giants to be contenders again. When the defense struggles like it did last year, the Giants depend so much on Manning. Last season, Manning fell short of his normal level of play with 3,948 passing yards and 26 touchdowns -- the first time he failed to throw for 4,000 yards and 27 touchdowns since 2008. He set career highs with 510 yards against Tampa Bay and five touchdowns against Philadelphia, but also had a three-game touchdown drought in the middle of the season -– the worst stretch since his rookie season. Manning and the offense need to be more consistent and a healthy Hakeem Nicks should make a major difference. The defense also needs to give Manning more help and opportunities this year.

Potential strength: The Giants have surrounded Manning with the weapons and supporting cast he needs to have an explosive offense again. The Giants scored the second-highest points in franchise history last year and that was with a banged up Nicks. Manning’s top receiver is expected to be healthier than he was last season when knee and foot injuries slowed the offense at times. And he will be motivated in a contract year. Victor Cruz has the security of a new deal and will continue to thrive with Manning. The Giants added speedster Louis Murphy as a deep threat and Brandon Myers provides a pass-catching tight end as a safety valve. David Wilson and Andre Brown should provide Manning with a good enough one-two punch in the running game. And Jerry Reese re-signed left tackle Will Beatty and used his first-round pick on offensive lineman Justin Pugh to protect Manning.

Potential weakness: Health. Manning needs his receivers and offensive linemen to stay healthy. Two of his starting offensive linemen (Chris Snee and David Baas) are returning from offseason surgeries. Nicks’ health and explosion is vital considering Manning threw for one touchdown or less in 10 games last year. When the Giants needed points the most last season, they scored a total of 14 in two losses at Atlanta and Baltimore. And of course, Manning has to remain injury-free as well. Manning has been a rock and never misses games. But when he struggled through a three-game touchdown drought last season, there were rumblings of a tired arm. Sometimes it's easy to forget that Manning can get banged up as well since he always gets up after a hit. The Giants have depth at quarterback but it's a luxury they hope they won’t need this season. Even though Reese surprised many by drafting Nassib to provide depth and a young prospect to groom at quarterback, a serious Manning injury would cripple the Giants’ title chances this season.

Wild card: Nassib. It will be very interesting to watch his progression in training camp and how he develops. The fourth-round pick impressed coaches early in rookie camp with his ability to orchestrate the huddle. Nassib probably isn't ready to assume the sole backup job to Manning yet. A strong camp showing could convince the coaches that they only need to keep two quarterbacks. But Carr provides the kind of experience the Giants need behind Manning. Even though Tom Coughlin would rather have the extra roster spot, the coach probably will have to keep three quarterbacks on the roster this season while Nassib develops.

Tell us your thoughts on the Giants quarterbacks entering camp.

Practice report: No. 88 back on the field

June, 11, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Hakeem Nicks didn't just show up at the Timex Performance Center on Tuesday and speak with coach Tom Coughlin and reporters in the morning. He also participated in the first practice of the Giants' three-day minicamp in the afternoon.

Nicks didn't appear to be going full-speed, but he worked during both individual and 11-on-11 drills. For the complete story on Nicks, click here.

In other news from Tuesday's practice:

Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan had been serving as the team's starting wide receivers during OTAs in the absence of Nicks and Victor Cruz. But Louis Murphy was paired with Randle when the Giants began 11-on-11 drills on Tuesday.

Both Jernigan and Nicks eventually got snaps with the first unit as well. But Coughlin has spoken very positively about Murphy in recent weeks, and it appears the 26-year-old speedster, who played for the Carolina Panthers last season, may be climbing up the depth chart.

Coughlin sounded relatively pleased with his team as a whole following the nearly two-hour practice on Tuesday.

"We had good energy," Coughlin said. "Good energy today."

• Center David Baas and guard Chris Snee did some individual work on the side, but watched most of the action again as they recover from injuries.

Coughlin expects both players to be able to participate for a much larger extent come training camp in July.

"That's what I'm told (by the doctors), that they will be ready to go," Coughlin said. "I'm sure there'll be some limitations, but it won't be like it is here. They'll be able to work."

James Brewer continues to start at right guard, in place of Snee. On Tuesday, regular left guard Kevin Boothe slid to center, and Brandon Mosley served as the starting left guard.

• Coughlin also provided updates on a couple of other injured Giants, who were out of sight on Tuesday -- defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who had back surgery last week, and fullback Henry Hynoski, who had knee surgery in late May.

"He's here. But he's in the process of getting to the point where he can do some things," Coughlin said, of Pierre-Paul. "I know probably for the first three or four weeks he's not going to be doing much."

"He's doing well. Every day he's in there," the coach said of Hynoski, adding that he hopes both will be ready for the start of the regular season in September.

• There weren't many flashy plays during Tuesday's practice. One that did stand out, however, was a swat-down by rookie defensive end Damontre Moore off a pass thrown by fellow rookie Ryan Nassib.

Moore, the team's third-round draft choice out of Texas A&M, has been impressive this spring, and the coaching staff has talked him up as well.

The Giants also attempted a rare flea-flicker during 11-on-11 drills. The pass by Curtis Painter was on the mark, but second-year man Brandon Collins, leaping up over a crowd of defenders, couldn't haul it in.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tom Coughlin expects Hakeem Nicks to attend next week's mandatory veterans minicamp.

[+] EnlargeVictor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesHakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz did not attend Thursday's OTA.
Nicks, along with Victor Cruz, did not attend Thursday’s voluntary organized team activities session. Coughlin said he still has not spoken with Nicks but hopes to clear the air with the receiver next week.

"We have a mandatory camp. ... I would expect that he would be here," Coughlin said.

ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter tweeted that Peter Schaffer, Nicks' agent, said, "It's a great day to be alive," when asked whether Nicks' absence was related to his contract. Nicks is entering the final year of his contract.

Coughlin didn't sound like he expected Cruz to be there next week since the receiver is not under contract. Cruz has yet to sign his restricted free-agent tender as he looks to work out a long-term extension with the Giants.

"I think that Cruz is a different category [than Nicks]," Coughlin said. "I’d like to have him, don’t get me wrong."

Cruz cannot be fined if he doesn’t show up to the mandatory minicamp since he is not under contract. Signed players who skip minicamp can be fined up to $66,150 -- $11,025 for the first missed day, $22,050 for the second and $33,075 for the third -- if a player misses all three days.

Coughlin: Randle's 'chance to step up'

May, 30, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Tom Coughlin may be irritated with the absence of his top two receivers from OTAs, but that also means he and the coaching staff can get a closer look at Rueben Randle.

Coughlin confirmed that Randle has a terrific opportunity this offseason to take a step forward.

[+] EnlargeRueben Randle
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsRueben Randle has a chance to step up while Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz are absent from OTAs.
"He’s moving in that direction," Coughlin said. "He’s certainly had many opportunities and if there’s a guy who really has a chance to step his game up and really show what he can do, it’s happening right now to Rueben."

Early on during Thursday’s OTA, Randle beat Prince Amukamara for a deep touchdown catch from Eli Manning. It was the kind of play the Giants envisioned when they took Randle in the second round last year.

Randle had a total of 19 receptions for 298 yards and three touchdowns last season. However, he showed glimpses of his potential. He had six receptions for 82 yards against Cleveland early in the season. And then in the season finale, Randle had four catches for 58 yards and two touchdowns against Philadelphia.

Now that he’s in his second season, Randle feels more comfortable.

"I’m a lot more confident in what I do," he said. "Going out there and making more plays, understanding the offense and more on the same page with Eli. And also, getting more trust from the coaches, and going out there and getting more reps so I can show my ability more."

With Nicks and Cruz absent from voluntary OTAs, Randle is one of several receivers who are seeing added reps with Manning. Jerrel Jernigan and Louis Murphy are two other receivers taking advantage of the valuable practice time.

"I think the guys have stepped up," Manning said. "The rules of OTAs limit certain things. It’s all off coverage. It’s all pretty simple defenses, but guys are getting open. We’re throwing the ball well, so I’ve been pleased with the way we’ve been looking the last few days.

"I think if we weren’t looking really sharp and not getting open or not being as effective offensively, I would be frustrated with the circumstances. But the fact that we’re doing well, I’ve been very pleased."

Randle is the one receiver who stands to benefit the most from added reps with Manning. He’s slated to be the third receiver behind Nicks and Cruz and has a chance to thrive potentially in that Mario Manningham third receiver role.

Randle says Coughlin hasn’t talked to him about how big these OTA reps can be for him. But the head coach doesn’t have to.

"I understood that going in anyway," Randle said. "I think that’s why they drafted me. They wanted me to come in and make an impact, so I’ve just gotta go out there and do my job, do it to the best of my abilities."

Mailbag: Murphy stands out so far

May, 28, 2013
There were a lot of questions in last week's chat.

Here are some of the leftovers:

Rick (FL): Do you see the Ryan Nassib situation being like an Aaron Rodgers type scenario?

A: A little bit, yes. If the Giants have their way, Nassib won’t play at all. But Rodgers was a first-round pick. Nassib is a fourth rounder so the pressure to eventually play Nassib won’t be as great as it was with the Packers and Rodgers. But if it turns out to be a similar situation, the Giants would probably gladly take that kind of dilemma. That would mean Nassib develops into a very good quarterback.

Featuring SFS (Jersey City): Are the Giants still considering Brandon Jacobs returning? He can be used as a goal line back.

A: Their goal-line back will probably be Andre Brown. And Jacobs tweeted last week that he is not interested in playing fullback at all. If the Giants were to bring Jacobs back, I don't see it happening until later this summer. And that would have to mean that the Giants weren't pleased with what they saw out of the running backs they have now.

David (CT): I know we have some pretty good WRs. Do you think our OL is good enough to block if we use more 4 and 5 WR sets? I think we can create some great mismatches if we are able to spread defenses out. What do you think?

A: I think that the Giants don’t like to look predictable and obviously if you throw four and five receiver sets out there, you know they are going to pass. The Giants like to have the threat of the run, they want to be a balanced offense. But in the case of when they have to throw, I think they would want a tight end like Brandon Myers out there as opposed to throwing five wide receivers. I do think the offensive line could hold its own but I don’t think you would want to put them in a situation where you are constantly throwing with four to five-wide out there. And on top of that, a running back will have to be able to protect Eli Manning as well.

Sam (NY): Who will we see returning kickoffs and punts this year? Will David Wilson's increased rushing load prevent him from returning kickoffs?

A: Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn says Wilson could still do the job even with his added workload at running back. But this offseason, the Giants have taken a look at adding a dynamic returner like Josh Cribbs so that could be an indication that they rather not risk Wilson there. I think they will take a look at other guys like Jerrel Jernigan to see if he can provide a spark on kickoff returns. On punt returns, I think they will go with Aaron Ross, Rueben Randle or Jernigan.

Kevin (NYC): Any impressions on WRs, particularly Randle?

A: It’s a little early and we don’t get to see a whole lot in these practices. But Louis Murphy has stood out a bit so far and the Giants gave him plenty of deep routes in the previous OTA we watched. Haven’t seen a lot yet from Randle but I wouldn’t read into that either way. Tom Coughlin said to ask him about Randle after five to six practices.

Got some questions? Post them below and I'll answer them in another mailbag in the blog this week.

Barden's back: WR re-signs with Giants

May, 23, 2013
Ramses Barden was back in the building on Thursday, smiling and hugging people.

The Giants' third-round pick in 2009 re-signed with the Giants. The Giants can use another body at receiver. Remember, they replaced Domenik Hixon with Louis Murphy but never really replaced Barden until now.

The Giants have Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Murphy, Jerrel Jernigan and Barden at receiver. They also have Kris Adams, Brandon Collins, Kevin Hardy and Jeremy Horne on the roster right now as well.

Don't read too much into Barden's signing when it comes to the Giants' ability to lock up Cruz and Nicks.

Rather, I think the Giants can use the extra experienced body. Cruz may not be at voluntary OTAs due to his contract. And Nicks will be limited as he makes sure he will be 100 percent healthy for camp. Certainly doesn't hurt adding Barden.

Tell us how you feel about Barden returning.