New York Giants: quintin demps

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- If you were looking for some kind of complex explanation from New York Giants running back Rashad Jennings, you're going to be disappointed.

Jennings' noncontact fumble in the final five minutes of Sunday's 25-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals was about as simple as it gets.

[+] EnlargeTed Ginn
AP Photo/Bill KostrounTed Ginn's punt return for a touchdown was part of a series of miscues that saw the Giants' one-point lead turn into an eight-point deficit between touches on offense.
"I turned around. My foot didn't get set on the ground. I slipped as I took off running. My elbow hit the ground. The ball came out," Jennings said.

That is pretty much what everyone saw, and Jennings has no idea why such a thing would happen. The Giants were down by eight points and driving. This happened on the Arizona 15-yard line, with the goal line in sight and the game still attainable.

"We were moving the ball. No doubt we were going to score," Jennings said. "That one hurts."

That last part could be applied to the game itself. The Giants didn't play beautifully by any means, but their offense did look considerably more competent Sunday than it had six days earlier in the season-opening loss in Detroit. The defense had done a decent enough job bottling up Cardinals quarterback Drew Stanton, who started in place of an injured Carson Palmer. The Giants got to the fourth quarter of their home opener with a 14-10 lead against a team playing its backup quarterback, which sure sounds like a recipe for a win.

But win they did not, because of a stunning run of fourth-quarter mistakes that took them out of the game.

Up 14-13 with 10:36 to go, Victor Cruz dropped a third-down pass from Eli Manning and the Giants punted. Arizona's Ted Ginn returned the punt 71 yards for a touchdown. The two-point conversion failed, but Giants safety Quintin Demps fumbled the ensuing kickoff and the Cardinals would get a field goal out of that gaffe.

"We've got a one-point lead, and the next time we touch the ball, we're down eight," Manning would say when it was over.

Tough to believe, but then Jennings' blunder made it even tougher to believe -- and ensured that the Giants would start 0-2 for the second season in a row.

It boils down to this: The Giants aren't a good team right now. They're a work in progress on offense, and while the defense looked better as this game went along, the secondary was a ragged, penalty-infested mess at the beginning.

In spite of that, the Giants were in a position to win it. But when you're not a good team, you can't get away with the kinds of mistakes they made. They turned the ball over four times, forced zero turnovers and committed nine penalties.

"When you do have an adverse circumstance, you've got to fight your way out of it," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of the way in which the fourth-quarter mistakes piled on top of each other. "But we would have been fine if we scored."

The problem is, right now, scoring is tough for the Giants. If you can't score and you're going to make a whole bunch of mistakes, you're going to lose. Pretty much every game. Even the ones you feel like you have in your pocket.

"We talk about winning the fourth quarter," Coughlin said. "We had the lead 14-13, and from there it was a nightmare."

Second time in as many weeks that Coughlin has used that word, "nightmare," unsolicited in a postgame news conference. That's a sign things are a long way from being fixed.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There was a day Stevie Brown remembers, back in January and February, when he was catching passes from New York Giants assistant trainer Leigh Weiss in the indoor facility here. Weiss threw one high, and Brown went up to catch it and came down hard on his left leg, which is the leg in which he'd had surgery last fall to repair a torn ACL in his knee. Brown landed hard and kept running as though nothing had happened, and when he looked up, Weiss was smiling.

"So," Weiss said. "I guess you're not worried about it anymore."

[+] EnlargeStevie Brown
AP Photo/Seth WenigStevie Brown appears to be back to full strength after an ACL injury cost him the 2013 season.
That's the moment to which Brown points when asked when he stopped worrying about his knee and knew he could once again be the player he used to be. The Giants' safety collected eight interceptions in a breakout 2012 season and was poised to begin 2013 as a full-time starter when he tore up his knee in a preseason game. After that, he said, he had to re-learn everything.

"You're forced to take a step back, and you have to rebuild your game as you're getting healthier," Brown said before Giants practice Thursday. "There are some things that I excelled at in the past that took a while to get back before I could just break-and-cut, break-and-cut. I had to start off with the little things -- coming downhill, addressing myself like I was going to be in the run game, just basic football patterns rather than going out right away and getting in deep thirds and breaking off. I had to start by making sure I could come to balance, breaking down in the tackling game, shifting one way, shifting the other way, things like that.

"Just a big, gradual process to get back to where I am now."

Where he is now is on the practice field, doing everything he would normally be doing to get ready for a football season if he'd never injured his knee in the first place. Brown said there's extra work that goes on off the field -- he has to do extra leg workouts to make sure to keep the muscles around his left knee strong. But once he's on the field, he said he believes he's able to do everything he used to be able to do.

"He worked really hard," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "He was here every day in the summer and throughout the entire offseason. So he's worked hard to get himself back on the field, and the work has obviously paid off. But the process of making him stronger, getting him to the games is still going to be important."

With Will Hill suspended and released, the Giants are a bit thin at safety. Brown and Antrel Rolle project as the starters, with Quintin Demps behind them and a pair of fifth-round picks from the past two seasons -- Cooper Taylor and Nat Berhe -- behind him. If Brown weren't able to play at full strength, the Giants would suddenly have a big problem at the position. Fortunately for them, at this point, he feels as good as ever.

"I'm able to do everything right now," Brown said. "No limitations to anything. I take all the reps that they want me to take and just go out there and do everything I need to do."

Giants roster preview: Safeties

July, 17, 2014
Jul 17
12:00
PM ET
During the week of June 30, we took a position-by-position look at the New York Giants' offense heading into training camp. This week, we've done the same thing with the defense -- one position group at a time. Today, with a mere four days left until the Giants report for camp, is the final installment -- safeties.

Projected starters: Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown

Projected backups: Quintin Demps, Cooper Taylor, Nat Berhe

Others fighting for roster spots: Kyle Sebetic, Thomas Gordon, C.J. Barnett

Brown says he feels good coming off the knee surgery that cost him a chance to start alongside his Pro Bowl mentor Rolle in 2013. He's been eager for a while now to follow up on his breakout eight-interception 2012 season, and the Giants are hoping his knee allows him to do that. If it does not, thanks to the suspension and release of Will Hill, things could get thin here in a hurry. Demps was signed more as a kickoff returner than a safety, but at this point he's the clear No. 3 when they want to go to their three-safety defense, and he's the projected substitute starter if Rolle or Brown can't play.

Behind Demps are two recent fifth-round picks -- Taylor from 2013 and Berhe from this year. Given the Giants' numbers at cornerback, it's hard to see them carrying five safeties, so it's possible both guys can't make the team and they might have to try to put Berhe on the practice squad. They do like Taylor, who had injuries last season but has come back larger and stronger this year and could have an opportunity for more playing time if he shows he can handle it.
All this week, we took a position-by-position look at the New York Giants' offense as it heads into training camp. The week of July 14, we'll do the same with the defense. Today, though, as a Saturday special, we'll take a look at the way the Giants' special teams stack up with a couple of weeks still left before camp.

Kickers: Josh Brown, Brandon McManus

Punter: Steve Weatherford

Long snapper: Zak DeOssie

Kick returners: Quintin Demps, Trindon Holliday, Odell Beckham Jr.

Punt returners: Holliday, Beckham, Rueben Randle, Jerrel Jernigan

Gunners: Zack Bowman, Bennett Jackson, Charles James et al.

Special teams coach Tom Quinn said in June that he saw the placekicker position as a competition between Brown, who was the Giants' kicker last year, and McManus, a rookie out of Temple. That's a battle to watch in camp.

Demps was signed for kickoff returns, but the suspension and release of Will Hill has left the Giants thin at safety, and Demps likely will have to play more there than they originally planned. That could open the door for Holliday or rookie Beckham to get more kick-return chances, assuming they're not afraid to use this year's first-round pick there and expose him to injury that could limit him on offense. David Wilson, who was brilliant as a kick returner in his 2012 rookie season, is unlikely to find himself back in the mix even if he's cleared for contact following neck surgery. Michael Cox, if he makes the team at running back, could factor here as well.

Holliday should be the primary punt returner, though Beckham can likely do the job there too. Randle and Jernigan are holdovers from last year's punt-return unit, which was one of the worst in the league.

Bowman gets mentioned here because his ability to get down the field on special teams is a primary reason the Giants signed him. James and Jackson could use strong performances on the coverage teams in camp as a means of making the team in a crowded field of cornerbacks.

Weatherford's and DeOssie's spots are as secure as Eli Manning's is.
One last New York Giants Twitter mailbag before I start a too-brief summer vacation ... @DanGrazianoESPN: Yeah, I think that's a fair expectation, and I think you saw the Giants lean that way last year with Terrell Thomas as the regular nickel corner. They signed Walter Thurmond to play that position, and he's as good at it as anyone in the league. And they're thin at safety with Will Hill suspended and released, Stevie Brown coming off knee surgery and Quintin Demps having been signed primarily to return kicks. They have been talking a lot about keeping Antrel Rolle at safety, rather than using him all over the field as they've done in years past, and obviously sticking with a three-cornerback look would help with that. I honestly don't see the need for the old three-safety package, especially if Jon Beason is back healthy at middle linebacker early in the season. It worked well during that 2011 Super Bowl season, but that year they were thin at cornerback and linebacker and deep at safety. You're right if your point is that the scheme should be based around the personnel, and right now cornerback is a Giants strength. @DanGrazianoESPN: With Beason nursing a foot injury, the starting middle linebacker in training camp (and probably for Week 1) is going to be Jameel McClain. He projects as the starting strongside linebacker if Beason's healthy, but he's taking over in the middle while he's not. Jacquian Williams is the front-runner for the starting weakside linebacker spot, and the strongside position should belong to either Spencer Paysinger or rookie Devon Kennard, who impressed coaches with his minicamp performance. As for receivers, that's an interesting case. My first thought is that they keep six -- Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Mario Manningham, Odell Beckham Jr., Jerrel Jernigan and Trindon Holliday. But Holliday isn't really likely to factor as a receiver, as he's pretty much exclusively a kick and punt returner. So that would leave them with five real receivers (four if Manningham's knee won't let him answer the bell). That opens it up for someone like a Marcus Harris, Julian Talley or Corey Washington to possibly sneak onto the roster with a good camp, but that's a long shot. @DanGrazianoESPN: Based on my conversations with Giants people (and with Will Beatty himself) last year and this spring, I think the main reason Beatty struggled was technique. He's not a big, monstrous, mauling left tackle who relies on strength and an ability to overpower people. Beatty's success, when he's had it, has had more to do with quickness and athleticism. I was told last season while he was struggling that Beatty was playing with his hands too low, giving away leverage and hurting his ability to dictate his matchups. That sounds like an easy thing to fix, but bad habits are tough to break, and as the year went along the struggles got into Beatty's head. He admitted in December that he'd felt the weight of his free-agent contract and let the pressure get to him, and I think he was looking forward to an offseason to clear his head. The problem is that Beatty's offseason has been about recovery from that broken leg he suffered in the Week 17 game against the Redskins, and he hasn't had time to practice getting back into good habits. I agree that a Beatty rebound would have a positive ripple effect along the rest of the line, but at this point you have to consider him a major question mark, and not just because of the injury. @DanGrazianoESPN: The firing of their longtime tight ends coach does rank among the more surprising moves of the Giants' offseason. But when they hired young Ben McAdoo as their new offensive coordinator, it was only fair to assume he'd want to bring in a few of his own coaches and help construct the staff. During those discussions, it was decided that Pope's position would be one of the ones to turn over. They moved wide receivers coach Kevin M. Gilbride (the son of the former offensive coordinator) to tight ends coach, Sean Ryan from quarterbacks coach back to wide receivers coach and hired Danny Langsdorf as the new quarterbacks coach. Pope was a Giants icon, and the only person whose name is on all four of the franchise's Super Bowl trophies. But there was an effort to get a bit younger on the coaching staff this offseason. Tight end Adrien Robinson spoke during OTAs about how he's felt a different kind of connection with the younger Gilbride than he did with Pope, and if that's the case with the rest of the group it might answer your question. Thanks for all of your questions. If you need me, I'm on the golf course.
The New York Giants ranked 26th in the NFL in punt-return average and 27th in kickoff-return average in 2013, so it's little surprise that they spent part of their offseason focus on those areas. They signed return men Quintin Demps and Trindon Holliday in free agency and drafted wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who has kick-return and punt-return experience, in the first round.

This gives them options for fixing one of their biggest problems, which they like.

"You've got three different types of returners when you talk about Beckham, Holliday and Demps," Giants special teams coach Tom Quinn said last week. "Obviously, with the speed of Holliday and the shiftiness, the undersized guy. And then you've got Demps, who's got a little more size and does that the straight-line speed. And then you've got Beckham, who's probably a combination of the two. We're real happy with all three of those guys."

Quinn said Beckham would work at punt returner and kick returner as the Giants figure out what the rookie can do and also prep him to play a major role on offense. He said they wouldn't be afraid to put him in the game as a returner just because they also play to use him at receiver.

"I think he'll be ready for anything we ask him to do," Quinn said. "A lot of times it gives those guys confidence and they progress on and they end up being offensive or defensive players down the road."

Quinn also said Holliday would work on both punt returns and kick returns, and he mentioned holdover receivers Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan as being in the mix. Demps, it would seem, is slated for kick returns only, and his role on the defense at safety could be larger than initially expected due to the suspension and release of Will Hill.

"Demps, we're real excited to have him," Quinn said. "He's been consistent in this league and explosive. He's a legitimate No. 1 kickoff returner for us. He runs with good size, and he has a real good understanding of the schemes. A real leader, coming in likely to start and contribute on special teams."

Holliday is only 5-foot-5, and while offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo said he'd been a "pleasant surprise" as a contributor at wide receiver in the spring program, he's going to have to make the team as a return man. He has incredible speed but has had some issues with fumbling in his previous stops.

"His speed's an asset, that's for sure," Quinn said. "He's a strong guy for his size. Ball security obviously will be his biggest focus once we start putting pads on and start knocking him around a little bit. I haven't seen anything yet. I've been pleased with the way he's been tracking the ball. It's been a big focus on catching the punt and getting started, but I've been pleased with that."
Last year was a big year for New York Giants safety Antrel Rolle. He was named a defensive team captain. He made it to the Pro Bowl. He seemed to take yet another step forward in his surprising mid-career evolution as a reliable leader in the locker room. And on the field, he was one of the most reliable performers the Giants had on either side of the ball.

But to hear his position coach tell it, Rolle is still developing as a safety and is likely to get even better this year and beyond.

"Antrel is just now starting to understand and develop as a safety," Giants safeties coach Dave Merritt said Thursday. "He was a corner, as we all know, when he was drafted out of Miami. Now all of a sudden he's a safety, and he's starting to understand the position more so than ever. Before, as far as formations, he didn't see formations. He didn't really see the route concepts. Now, the last two years, it's all coming together for him and he's feeling more comfortable. So with Antrel's ability to continue to learn and grow, he hasn't really scratched his ability as a safety yet. Last year was a glimpse of what Antrel could actually become."

Odd stuff to say about a 31-year-old player entering his 10th NFL season and the final year of his contract with the team. But Merritt pointed out that Rolle wasn't strictly a safety even in his first couple of years with the Giants, who used him in a variety of roles from 2010-12 as needs dictated.

"The first couple of years, you all know, we played him at nickel, we played him at 'Bison,' we played him at corner, we played him at safety," Merritt said. "Now he's able to just play strictly safety, and it's coming together for him well."

Merritt said he recently told Rolle he thought he could play another four years. The safety position is a major question mark for the Giants this year and in years to come. Rolle is a free agent at the end of this year. Stevie Brown and Quintin Demps are signed to one-year contracts. Will Hill was recently released following his third drug suspension in as many years. They can't know yet what they have in 2013 fifth-round pick Cooper Taylor or 2014 fifth-round pick Nat Berhe. Depending on the way this season goes, the Giants could find themselves needing to sign Rolle to another free-agent contract just to stabilize things for them at the position. Or they could find themselves starting over with a whole new crew.

In the meantime, though, the Giants' sudden depth at cornerback should enable Rolle to stay firmly planted at safety this year. And his coaches believe he'll continue to grow, improve and thrive there as a result.

Twitter mailbag: System fits

May, 17, 2014
May 17
10:34
AM ET
Thanks for your New York Giants questions, and for using the #nygmail hashtag on Twitter so I could find them. Here are some.
.
The draft is over, the grades are in and the New York Giants appear to have achieved their stated goal of adding seven players they liked. For those who may have missed it, this is the list of 2014 Giants draft picks:

Round 1 (12 overall): Odell Beckham, Jr., WR, LSU

Round 2 (43): Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State

Round 3 (74): Jay Bromley, DT, Syracuce

Round 4 (113): Andre Williams, RB, Boston College

Round 5 (152): Nat Berhe, S, San Diego State

Round 5 (174): Devon Kennard, LB, USC

Round 6 (187): Bennett Jackson, CB, Notre Dame

Instant impact? I could see Richburg as the Week 1 starting center, and I believe they'll give Beckham an opportunity to play wide receiver at some point early in this season if not sooner. They also think they can use him on punt returns and kick returns, so it'll be interesting to see how they split up those opportunities among him, Trindon Holliday and Quintin Demps in the preseason. And they're hoping they can use Bromley in the defensive tackle rotation right away, but we'll see whether he comes that quickly. It appears as though he'll have more opportunity to see the field than 2013 second-rounder Johnathan Hankins did last year, because the roster isn't as deep at defensive tackle as it was in 2013.

The rest of them look as though they can be useful special-teamers right away, and Williams could be more than that if they're going to use him as, say, a goal-line or short-yardage back. Like every Giants running back, he'll have to prove he can handle at least some pass-protection responsibilities if he wants to get on the field. But as a runner, he's a guy they could use right away if David Wilson isn't ready or if they had an injury to Rashad Jennings or Peyton Hillis. I will have more on Williams, one of the Giants' more interesting picks, later today.

Asked for his favorite pick for each team, Todd McShay picked Richburg for the Giants, and I agree with him. Nothing against Beckham, who has a chance to be a lot of fun in the passing game, but none of that's going to be possible if the Giants can't block better at the line of scrimmage.
This week's residue of the use of the #nygmail hashtag on Twitter:

 

Thanks for all of your questions, and enjoy your weekend.
So New York Giants safety Will Hill could be suspended for the season as a result of his latest failed drug test. Or not. He could win his appeal and not be suspended at all. There's no way to know what's going to happen with Hill. That is his defining characteristic. It's why his very promising NFL career is unlikely to ever really happen.

The Giants love Hill's talent. He was the best player in their secondary for much of the 2013 season, and they were looking ahead to this fall with him penciled in as one of their starting safeties. But they also signed Stevie Brown and Quintin Demps, both of whom have starting experience, because the one thing they know for sure about Hill is that they can't count on him.

Four-game drug suspensions in 2012 and 2013 leave Hill teetering on the edge of the league's drug program, with the NFL likely to suspend him a full year for his next violation. That's a tough line for a team to walk with a player it likes but can't trust. Ideally, you'd like to make your plans around him, but you have to operate with the knowledge that you can't. Ideally, you want to support him as he deals with the difficult parts of his off-field life, but you can't follow him around every day of the year.

So Hill has failed another test, and even if his best-case scenario were to come true and he were to be exonerated and win his appeal, you have to think the Giants aren't going to put up with him much longer. Having to wonder every day whether you're going to get the call that tells you one of your starting safeties is suspended is a tough way to operate, especially when you're doing as much roster reassembly as the Giants are doing this offseason. If Brown is fully recovered from ACL surgery, they can go forward with him as the starter opposite Antrel Rolle, and address the position in the draft or next offseason for depth and for years beyond this one.

Hill is a very nice player, but there are good reasons he didn't get drafted. The Giants have always known he was a volatile commodity -- that they'd benefit greatly if he could stay out of trouble but that odds were he wouldn't. At this point, it's hard to say whether this latest bit of news is the one that pushes them to cut ties with Hill, but even if it's not, it's hard to shake the sense that the day is coming. And if it is, it would be tough to blame them.

Big Blue Morning: Just a fantasy

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
9:40
AM ET
After a dizzying early portion of the week, things have hit a bit of a lull with New York Giants news over the past couple of days. While perusing our site I happened to notice Christopher Harris has put out a set of fantasy football rankings based off the league-wide free-agent activity so far. Yes, fantasy football six months before the season starts. Anybody who knows me knows I love it.

So here's a look at where various Giants players fall in Christopher's rankings, which I imagine are at least somewhat subject to change between now and September:

Manning
QB: Eli Manning, No. 21. Yeah, one spot ahead of the Rams' Sam Bradford and two spots ahead of Michael Vick, who is not even on a team yet. Yet, this is not an ungenerous ranking. Manning finished 21st in quarterback scoring (just behind Geno Smith!) in his 27-interception 2013 season, and his roster currently includes no viable tight end and only one receiver who has ever caught more than 60 passes in a season. He could be easy to get and could represent strong value if he bounces back, as he has before. But he's going to be a tough guy to count on for fantasy numbers.

RB: Rashad Jennings, No. 23. Again, just ahead of a guy (Knowshon Moreno) who is currently unemployed. No respect, right? Jennings finished 22nd in running back scoring in 2013 in Oakland, and he didn't even have the job for the full season. I actually think Jennings could be the back who leads the Giants in carries in 2014. But there is no way to know that from this far out, and as a fantasy player I tend to stay away from Giants running backs anyway because of the unreliable manner in which Tom Coughlin distributes carries. New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is a factor here as well, but he comes form Green Bay, where recent history hasn't exactly produced too many star fantasy running backs.

RB: David Wilson, No. 45. If he's healthy and has a big preseason, you're going to hear a lot of the same stuff you heard last summer about his big-play potential and how he can win you matchups by himself with one big run. And that's all true. But like the Giants, you're going to want to see it before you believe it with this guy.

Cruz
WR: Victor Cruz, No. 19. Yeah, I mean, this is the state of the Giants' offense, right? Cruz finished 28th in wide receiver scoring in 2013, catching only four touchdown passes all season as he played under constant double-teams because of the lack of a threat posed by a loafing Hakeem Nicks. As currently constructed, the Giants' roster offers no other receiving options that would draw the extra coverage away from Cruz. Until they add something exciting on the outside, I don't imagine he's got a chance to rise back to his once-elite fantasy level in anyone's preseason rankings. But if it makes you feel any better, Christopher ranked Nicks, who is now with the Colts, No. 42.

WR: Rueben Randle, No. 36. We'll see. Everybody loved him last year, too, but he didn't break out as a fantasy scorer in spite of six touchdown catches. He's still developing, and he could get a great opportunity. But this seems high to me without seeing any more than we've seen.

WR: Jerrel Jernigan, No. 66. I think he's still best suited as Cruz's backup in the slot, but his strong showing late in the 2013 season could encourage the Giants to give him more chances, and McAdoo could have some cool new plan for him that we don't know about yet.

TE: Adrien Robinson, No. 40. But I'll betcha if they draft that Eric Ebron kid out of North Carolina they throw him into the top 10. I'll betcha.

K: Josh Brown, No. 26. You just can't draft a fantasy kicker on an offense that doesn't score. Brown had some big games last season, but still only finished 27th in kicker scoring.

Team defense/special teams, No. 14. They were No. 16 in fantasy scoring last season and have added two dynamic return men in Quintin Demps and Trindon Holliday. But I think what holds them back in a team defense ranking are questions about where the sacks will come from.
On paper, following their flurry of free-agent activity this week, the defensive backfield is the strength of the New York Giants' roster. We say "on paper," because it's March 19 and paper's all we have. The Giants don't play a real game for another five-plus months, which means all we can do is project what we think will happen based on the way everything looks from this far out.

So let's. Let's take a look at the Giants' new secondary, piece-by-piece, to get everybody fired up about how much better it has a chance to be in 2014. Assuming, of course, that they haven't improved it at the expense of the pass rush. Which they may have. But that's a different story for another time. This is about the secondary, whose members now include:

[+] EnlargeAntrel Rolle
AP Photo/Seth WenigIn 2014, Antrel Rolle should see more help in pass coverage given the Giants' additions at cornerback.
Antrel Rolle, safety: The lone remaining defensive captain, Rolle should be well served by the addition of all this cornerback depth. He's been asked to handle too much cornerback duty the past several years due to injuries and depth issues at that position. With everyone they now have at corner, Rolle should be able to stick to safety as he prefers. He's a leader on the Giants' defense, which is the main reason he was never a real candidate to be cut in spite of his whopping $9.25 million cap number. Ideally, he'll be able to switch off seamlessly between strong safety and free safety in the Giants' defensive scheme because his fellow starting safety will be able to handle either role.

Prince Amukamara, CB: I believe Amukamara is a good player. His technique is good, he's willing to mix it up physically, he can tackle, he's willing to help out against the run. Smart, studies hard, keeps himself in excellent shape... solid, all-around player. What I do not think he is is a star cornerback, a "shutdown" type who you can put on the other team's best receiver and expect him to take the guy out of the game. Not a knock, mind you -- there are very few guys like that. Just saying that I think the additions around him will help alleviate some of the pressure and responsibility Amukamara took on himself last year as the team's clear No. 1 corner.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB: He doesn't fit that "shutdown corner" description either, but his speed and athleticism enable Rodgers-Cromartie to make spectacular plays and sometimes even outrun his mistakes. The Giants should be able to split the field with him on one side and Amukamara on the other and feel very good about their chances in coverage. Depending on week-by-week matchups, they can isolate Rodgers-Cromartie in coverage as warranted without having to lean on him as a one-on-one difference-maker every week. He looks up to Rolle, his former Arizona Cardinals teammate, and should benefit from that relationship.

Stevie Brown, safety: When training camp 2013 opened, Brown was coming off an eight-interception breakout season and was talking about his development as a player. The hope was he would evolve into the kind of safety who could switch off with Rolle as Kenny Phillips used to do, and Brown and the team were confident he could. Brown tore his ACL in the 2013 preseason and hasn't played since, so his health will be a question mark going into the year. But if he is healthy, he will get a chance to win back that starting safety spot and show off his ballhawking skills again.

Will Hill, safety: He emerged as the starter opposite Rolle as the 2013 season went on after missing the first four games on a drug suspension. Rolle made the Pro Bowl, but I believed Hill was the better player at times in 2013, which is more a compliment to Hill than it is an insult of Rolle's play. The questions with Hill are of off-field issues, but if he's got his life in order away from the football field, he's a force on it. If Hill stays out of trouble and Brown stays healthy, the Giants have enviable safety depth.

Walter Thurmond, CB: He was one of the cornerbacks called upon to fill a larger role in Seattle last year following the drug suspension of Brandon Browner, and it's generally believed the Seahawks' cornerback play improved. Thurmond is an elite-level talent as a slot cornerback, which is the role he'll likely fill with the Giants, but he's also capable of handling himself on the outside should one of the starters get injured.

Trumaine McBride, CB: The Giants were impressed enough with his 2013 work as an injury-replacement starter that they signed him back on a two-year contract. Undersized but extremely determined, McBride showed an ability to handle himself on the outside and can play the slot as well. He'll function as a reliable backup.

Cooper Taylor, safety: Late-round 2013 draft pick is already a helper on special teams, and with all of the veteran safeties they have in front of him, he can take his time developing as a defensive player.

Jayron Hosley, CB: The Giants' 2012 third-rounder has been slow to develop due to health issues. The Giants liked him as a slot corner option when they picked him, but he's got to show a lot to stay in the long-range plans at this point.

Quintin Demps, safety: Signed primarily as a kick returner, he's a last-resort option if injuries dictate that he fill in at safety. He did start six games there for Kansas City in 2013.

Charles James, CB: Saw some work in the return game last preseason, but they have other guys for that now. James has some value as a special teams player but will have to fight his way up the depth chart.
The New York Giants ranked 27th in the NFL in kick-return average in 2013. In the past two days, they have added the players who ranked third and fifth in kick-return average in 2013. That's what you call commitment to upgrade an area of need.

Holliday
Demps
A day after signing safety and kick returner Quintin Demps, the Giants agreed to terms Monday with kick and punt return specialist Trindon Holliday, who ran a punt back 81 yards for a touchdown against them in the Broncos' Week 2 victory in MetLife Stadium in September.

Holliday ranked fifth in the league with 27.7 yards per kick return in 2013 and 17th in the league with an average of 8.5 yards per punt return. He's immediately the leading candidate to return punts in 2014, since Demps hasn't really done it, but the idea that they could conceivably put both of these guys back on the same kick return is pretty exciting if you're a Giants fan.

Holliday is nominally a wide receiver, but he has only two receptions in his NFL career and functions exclusively as a return man. He's known as one of the fastest in the game, and his career average on punt returns is 9.4 yards. Like pretty much every one of the 15 free agents the Giants have signed in the past seven days, he'll be 28 years old when the season starts.

This was a major need area for the Giants, and they are addressing it aggressively. Overall roster depth remains important for them to build, since part of their issue in the return game was the blocking for the return men, and the more quality depth you have on your roster the better your special teamers are. But there is no denying that Demps and Holliday represent a major shot in the arm and should make the Giants' return game considerably more fun and exciting beginning in Week 1.
If you felt as though the New York Giants weren't being active enough in free agency, Sunday should have made you feel a good bit better. The day began with the announcement of two signings -- cornerback Walter Thurmond and kick returner Quintin Demps. Around lunchtime, news broke that the Giants were meeting with former Cowboys pass-rusher Anthony Spencer. Long about dinnertime, we learned they had set up a meeting with their own former wide receiver Mario Manningham. And then a bit before bedtime, Adam Schefter reported that cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was spending the night and taking a physical today.

We chronicled and analyzed it all for you move by move, as is our wont here on ESPN's NFL Nation. Here are the links:
  • I believe Thurmond was signed to play the slot corner position, but it's possible that he and/or Trumaine McBride could handle outside duties if the Giants don't sign Rodgers-Cromartie or another corner. There are still a number of corners on the market if Rodgers-Cromartie heads to the Jets or elsewhere.
  • Demps offers some down-the-roster safety depth but was signed to help boost a sagging kick return game. Neither he nor Thurmond has any NFL experience returning punts, so that position remains up in the air, but Demps is electrifying on kick returns.
  • Spencer would have to be a steal to make sense for a Giants team that has yet to sign anyone over 30 (which he is) and let team captain Justin Tuck walk last week without making an effort to re-sign him. Spencer's knee is a question mark, and he's got no NFL experience as a 4-3 defensive end, which he'd be in New York. They do need reinforcements on a defensive line that has seen its two best players from 2013 sign elsewhere, but I think Spencer would be a backfill guy in the pass-rush rotation at this point.
  • Manningham would be the fourth receiver if his knee checked out and they signed him. He isn't much at this point, though I understand the justifiable place he occupies in the hearts of Giants fans. He made one of the most important catches in franchise history.
  • Rodgers-Cromartie is the best corner left on the market and would allow the Giants to claim a deep secondary as the strength of their team.

We will of course keep you posted throughout the day on further developments. Also, feel free to catch me at 3:30 p.m. ET on "NFL Insiders" on ESPN. Maybe I can sneak in a Giants note there, too.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Insider