New York Giants: Trumaine McBride

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In 2012, Jayron Hosley was a New York Giants third-round draft pick who showed promise. In 2013, he was an injury headache. When 2014 dawned, he was on the roster bubble and facing a four-game drug suspension to start the year. Hosley's is not a career that has trended in the right direction.

But injuries constantly create opportunity in the NFL, and with nickel cornerbacks Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride out for the year, Hosley has ascended to the role of nickel corner for the Giants as they prepare for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Hosley
Hosley
"I grew in that position, learned to play that position and I feel more comfortable there than I did my rookie year," Hosley said Wednesday. "So at this point, I feel more prepared. Just being able to see things and recognize things and not worry about what you're doing as much as what the offense is doing."

Hosley might not have made the team at all if not for the suspension, which allowed the Giants to delay a roster decision on him until such time as Thurmond was on injured reserve and they needed him to back up McBride. After McBride broke his thumb in Sunday night's loss to the Eagles, Hosley became even more important to the Giants, and he said he's fully ready to go in spite of missing those first four weeks.

"It was a long four weeks," Hosley said. "I worked out and I was in shape, but it's football, and you can't just show up and expect things to go your way. I'm in better football shape now."

The Giants are thin overall at cornerback. Starting outside corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie came out of Sunday night's game with back spasms and missed practice Wednesday with continued back and hamstring issues. If Rodgers-Cromartie can't go, the Giants' nickel defense would feature Zack Bowman and Prince Amukamara in the outside corner spots with Hosley in the slot.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A sudden rash of injuries has left Tom Coughlin and the rest of the New York Giants' coaching staff shuffling pieces around in advance of Sunday's key division matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. Coughlin addressed a few of the issues in his Wednesday morning news conference:
  • Jennings
    As expected, running back Rashad Jennings will miss a second straight game with his knee injury. The Giants have a bye next week and play a "Monday Night Football" game in Week 9. Asked whether Jennings might be back for that game, Coughlin said, "I hope so. I can't tell you that for sure, but I would hope." Rookie Andre Williams is likely to start in Jennings' place again, but as you saw Sunday night, he shares the workload with Peyton Hillis, whom they trust more on passing downs.
  • Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie continues to struggle with leg and back injuries. Coughlin said Rodgers-Cromartie would practice Wednesday, but added, "What can he do? You'd have to put it in the 'limited' category." Rodgers-Cromartie was not on the field for the portion of practice that was open to the media, which indicates he may not have practiced after all. Zack Bowman would fill in for Rodgers-Cromartie if he can't play Sunday.
  • With Walter Thurmond and Trumaine McBride now both out for the season, Jayron Hosley will be the nickel cornerback. It's an opportunity for the 2012 third-round pick, who missed the first four games of this season on a drug suspension, to prove he belongs in the league after a disappointing first couple of years.
  • Coughlin said Preston Parker, who filled in as the slot wide receiver when Victor Cruz went down Sunday night, will get an opportunity with Cruz and backup slot receiver Jerrel Jernigan out for the year. But Coughlin also said there might be some game-planning adjustments to account for the relative abilities of the players they have left at wide receiver. Rookie Corey Washington could conceivably see more looks, and Coughlin said he hoped newly signed Kevin Ogletree would be able to help this weekend.
  • Cruz made a brief visit to the team facility Wednesday morning, but he did not stop to talk to reporters and the team was on the practice field while he was here. Cruz had surgery Monday to repair the torn patellar tendon in his right knee.

More to come after practice and Wednesday's open locker room session.

Trumaine McBride is Giants' new nickel

September, 17, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' plan for their secondary this year included Walter Thurmond as a top-level nickel cornerback, squaring off against slot receivers and ideally giving the Giants a mismatch there every week. But Thurmond is out for the season due to a torn pectoral muscle, and the Giants have to turn to Plan B at the nickel corner spot. That plan is Trumaine McBride, who re-signed this year fully expecting to be a Plan B.

"I knew they brought me back to be a backup," McBride said Wednesday. "I was OK with it. I just approach it the same way I always have, knowing that at any time I could start."

McBride started 10 games for the Giants last year after being out of football in 2012. They liked him, and they re-signed him at the start of free agency as sort of an insurance policy in case their plan for rebuilding their secondary with outside free agents didn't work. But once they signed Thurmond and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, it was clear that McBride's role was to be able to back up any of the cornerback positions.

This week, though, he's focused on the nickel position, which he says requires more studying because of the additional responsibilities it brings. The nickel corner has more responsibilities in the run game, for example, since he replaces a linebacker when the team is in nickel. McBride said he has to pay more attention to the opponent's route tendencies, since the slot receiver has more field to work with (since he's not running along a sideline). And it's especially important for him to know where his help is on every play, so he can play to his leverage -- something that's been a bit of an issue for the Giants in the secondary so far this year.

"I don't think it's a big deal," McBride said. "I just feel like I'm a football player. I know what I have to do to be great at the nickel position."

Big Blue Morning: The replacements

September, 16, 2014
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The New York Giants suffered a couple of big losses on defense in Sunday's loss to Arizona. Nickel cornerback Walter Thurmond III is out for the year due to a torn pectoral muscle he'll have surgically repaired Tuesday, and middle linebacker Jon Beason could be out a while due to a re-aggravation of the toe injury that cost him all of training camp.

Thurmond
"You have to find a way to rally," safety Antrel Rolle said Monday. "One guy doesn't make this defense. Two guys don't make this defense, even though they are huge assets to our defense. We need them out there, no doubt about it. But unfortunately in this business, when guys go down, you have to find someone who can make the standards stay the same or even higher. I'm confident in the backups we have."

The Giants are likely to replace Thurmond with Trumaine McBride in that nickel corner spot in the short term. McBride was a starter for the Giants last year and has a little bit of experience in the nickel position, but he's not an elite option like Thurmond is. He might be able to get the job done, but he's not going to give the Giants a huge edge at the position, which they believed Thurmond did.

Jameel McClain is the most likely replacement at middle linebacker for Beason. When Beason was out in the preseason, McClain moved into the middle and rookie Devon Kennard played the strongside linebacker spot (with Jacquian Williams now the regular starter on the weak side). The issue now is that Kennard is out with a hamstring injury, which means if McClain moves into the middle, Spencer Paysinger has to play the strong side. The other option is to leave McClain on the strong side and put Mark Herzlich in the middle, but Herzlich didn't look good there Sunday, and his inability to handle the role last season was one of the motivations for acquiring Beason in a trade.

Giants injury update

August, 17, 2014
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Four New York Giants left Saturday's preseason game with injuries, and they appear to be of varying degrees of concern:

Cornerback Prince Amukamara left the game with a groin injury. He said after the game that he didn't feel a pop and was able to jog and do some cutting left and right on the sideline, but that he didn't feel he could let it go at full-speed and so it didn't make sense to go back in the game.

"What they said was to see how it feels [Sunday], and if it's worse, take some pictures, do an MRI, stuff like that," Amukamara said.

Safety Cooper Taylor had a toe injury and left the stadium on crutches and with a boot on his left foot. Obviously, that's cause for significant concern for Taylor, who's been having a strong camp and preseason as a reserve safety and a special teams player. The Giants are already short at safety because of the suspension and release of Will Hill, so they don't want to lose Taylor as he's showing improvement.

Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn left the game with an elbow injury, but Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Kuhn told him after the game that his elbow felt fine.

Tackle Charles Brown left the game with a shoulder injury. It's unclear how severe it is at this time.

On the positive injury front, starting left tackle Will Beatty said his leg felt fine in his first game action since he broke it in Week 17 of last season. And cornerback Trumaine McBride got a healthy workload in his first game back from hip surgery.

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.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants have been practicing without first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. since the first day of training camp.

 But Beckham has been around, and watching from up close. He had to watch from home, on television, Sunday as the Giants played the Bills in their preseason opener in Ohio. And when fellow rookie wide receiver Corey Washington scored that 73-yard touchdown, Beckham's first thought was that he'd better be careful.

"I remember trying not to celebrate too much, but I was so excited for him," Beckham said before Giants practice on Thursday.

He didn't want to celebrate by jumping up and down and risking further injury to the hamstring that's keeping him from practicing and playing. That's the focus for Beckham these days -- avoiding further injury even as the hamstring makes enough progress to make him and the team hopeful that he can return soon.

"A hamstring is one of those things where it's that last leg you need, and you feel like you're good to go but it's just not there yet," Beckham said. "And if you rush out there, you risk putting yourself back with another injury. So it's one of those things that we're all just waiting on."

Beckham has been able to do more running and cutting in the past two days than he did last week, and there's tangible progress. He obviously won't play in Saturday's game against the Steelers, but at this point it's not crazy to think he might get cleared to practice at some point next week or the week after.

"He is getting better," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "They're doing a lot with him, and I think he's responding pretty well the next day. He's not that sore. I think he's close."

Guard Geoff Schwartz, who sat out Wednesday's practice with a knee injury, is expected to return to practice Thursday night, Coughlin said. Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles, who sprained his ankle Wednesday, won't practice Thursday or play Saturday. Running back Peyton Hillis remains out for a while with a sprained ankle of his own, and return specialist Trindon Holliday is out with a hamstring injury. We'll see whether defensive tackle Mike Patterson (shoulder) can return to practice Thursday.

Left tackle Will Beatty, who's rehabbing a broken leg, is practicing more or less in full every day but won't play on Saturday. Coughlin said the plan is for Beatty to play in next week's preseason game in Indianapolis. Ditto cornerback Trumaine McBride, who's practicing fine but is still being held out of games as he works his way back from offseason hip surgery.

McBride the unsung hero of Giants' CBs

August, 6, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants didn't just add Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Walter Thurmond and Zack Bowman to their stable of cornerbacks this offseason.

They also re-signed Trumaine McBride.

That move didn't create nearly as much buzz, but McBride was one of the team's most valuable players a season ago and has looked great thus far in training camp.

McBride picked off Ryan Nassib at the end of practice Tuesday, and it wasn't McBride's first interception of camp, either.

"[McBride] intercepts the ball and runs 80 yards every day, and they tell me he can’t play," coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday. "I’m looking at them like, 'Who’s got the two heads here?'"

The "they" Coughlin was referring to is the Giants' medical staff, which held McBride out of the team's preseason opener against the Buffalo Bills. McBride underwent surgery for a torn labrum in his hip in January, so the doctors want to ease him into game action.

McBride won't play Saturday against the Pittsburgh Steelers, either, but hopes to play a week later in Indianapolis. In the meantime, he continues to stand out in practice.

"I wouldn’t say [I feel] 100 percent," McBride said Wednesday, "but I feel good."

Two years ago, believe it or not, McBride, 28, was out of the NFL after being released by the Jacksonville Jaguars at the end of training camp. He sat out the entire 2012 season after playing five years in the league with the Chicago Bears, Arizona Cardinals and Jaguars.

The Giants signed him in January 2013, and the move paid huge dividends when Corey Webster struggled to get onto the field due to injury (and performed poorly when he was on the field). McBride ended up playing in 15 games, starting 10, and performing quite well, including a pair of interceptions -- despite suffering the hip injury sometime in the middle of the season and playing through it.

McBride said some other teams pursued him in free agency, but he decided to re-up with the Giants for two years and nearly $3 million in early March.

"My heart was here," McBride said. "We did have other teams that I talked to. But I just felt like being here was the best case for me. ... Being here [already], the scheme, the staff, and just a great organization overall. I really didn’t want to leave that structure."

The structure of the Giants' secondary has certainly changed, however. Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara are the clear-cut starters at cornerback, and Thurmond has been installed as the team's nickelback. McBride is currently listed as one of the Giants' second-string corners, along with Thurmond, with Bowman and Jayron Hosley listed as the third-stringers behind them.

Barring an injury, McBride probably won't start a game this season. But he'll see some action, is one heck of an insurance policy, and says he's not worried about playing time.

"Whether I’m first, second or third on the depth chart, my goal every day, every practice is to get better and just make plays," McBride said. "I can’t worry about if I’m starting or if I’m a backup. Me personally, my mind frame every day is just to go out and make plays."

And he's doing exactly that.

Giants Camp Report: Day 7

July, 29, 2014
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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.
During the week of June 30, we took a position-by-position look at the New York Giants' offense as it heads into training camp. This week, we've been doing the same with the defense -- one position group per day. Today, it's the cornerbacks' turn. And what a group it is.

McBride
Projected starters: Prince Amukamara, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Projected backups: Walter Thurmond, Zack Bowman, Trumaine McBride, Jayron Hosley (susp.)

Others competing for spots: Charles James, Bennett Jackson, Ross Weaver, Travis Howard

James and sixth-round pick Jackson look like strong special teams contributors, but where do they fit? With Hosley suspended for the first four games, there is a spot if the team can manage to carry six corners, but it doesn't look as though there are two spots for James and Jackson. Could one of them surpass McBride, who performed well as a starter in several spots last season? Hard to imagine, and if they carry seven corners, that leaves them short elsewhere (i.e., offensive line).

Thurmond is a sure thing, and practically a starter as the projected nickel corner. And Bowman is a special teams whiz who looked great on defense in minicamp. So those spots seem set, as do those of Rodgers-Cromartie, who is going to draw the assignment of covering the opponent's best receiver each week, and Amukamara, the 2011 first-rounder who says he is ready to make the leap as a playmaker this season. But down the depth chart live some pretty good battles for roster spots among some pretty good players. Other teams are likely to be scouting the Giants' corners in preseason in the hopes that one or two they like get cut loose.
Cornerback is the deepest and most crowded position group on the New York Giants' roster heading into training camp, and it's going to force some difficult decisions when it comes time to make roster cuts in late August. Conor Orr of NJ.com has broken it down like this:
Based on what we've seen in camp, if we had to rank the position based on how much playing time they'll get, this is what we came up with:

1. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
2. Prince Amukamara
3. Walter Thurmond
4. Zack Bowman
5. Trumaine McBride
6. Charles James
7. Jayron Hosley
8. Bennett Jackson
9. Ross Weaver
10. Travis Howard

But obviously, you don't keep 10 players. The Giants finished with five cornerbacks on the active roster and two on injured reserve last year. It's safe to say at least three, but probably four of these players won't make it out of camp, especially with the need to carry four at the safety spot.

I can't quibble too much with Orr's rankings. I might put McBride ahead of Bowman based on the way he played last year, and Hosley would surely be ahead of James if Hosley weren't suspended for the first four games of the season. But that suspension makes Hosley, who was likely on the roster bubble to begin with, a tough call. Jackson is a draft pick they'd surely like to keep if possible, and he and James have shown an ability to contribute on kick coverage teams, as has Bowman.

My guess is the top five on Orr's list are safe, but that there's likely only room for one more guy, either James or Jackson until Hosley comes back. And when Hosley does come back from suspension, there's likely to be a tough choice between him and whoever made it between James and Jackson.

There's always a possibility that an injury opens up a spot, but if everyone stays healthy, the Giants are going to end up cutting a couple of players of whom they think very highly here.

Giants offseason wrap-up

May, 22, 2014
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» NFC Wrap: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South » Grades

With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple of months away, we assess the New York Giants' offseason moves.

[+] EnlargeGeoff Schwartz
Denny Medley/USA TODAY SportsThe Giants knew they needed help on the offensive line, so signing Geoff Schwartz was a move in the right direction.
Best move: Signed to start at left guard after a season in which the interior of the Giants' offensive line crumbled completely and decimated the offense, Geoff Schwartz will be an immediate upgrade at a key position and should help the run game as well as Eli Manning's protection in the passing game. The Giants needed to make the offensive line a priority, and signing Schwartz at the start of free agency showed that they understood that.

Riskiest move: Letting defensive tackle Linval Joseph leave for Minnesota in free agency. Joseph is still just 25 years old -- younger than any free agent the Giants signed. He and Justin Tuck (who left and signed with the Raiders) were the Giants' two best defensive linemen in 2013. The Giants are hoping 2013 second-round pick Johnathan Hankins can fill Joseph's shoes, but letting him go risked leaving the Giants too thin on the defensive line -- a position of renowned strength during their last two Super Bowls.

Most surprising move: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and in general the amount of free-agent attention the Giants paid to cornerback. They spent big to acquire Rodgers-Cromartie and also signed Walter Thurmond, Zack Bowman at Trumaine McBride. They obviously needed to replace Corey Webster (who they should have replaced last offseason), but the extent to which they beefed up at the position was surprising for a team that appeared to need more help on offense than on defense.

Draft pick impact: First-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. has a chance to make a rookie-year contribution as Hakeem Nicks' replacement at wide receiver if he can learn the offense quickly. Ditto second-round pick Weston Richburg, who has a chance to beat out J.D. Walton for the starting center job. And fourth-round pick Andre Williams, who led all of college football in rushing yards last year at Boston College, could get into the mix early at running back. The Giants are counting on their draft picks to help fill holes on the offensive side.
Cornerback wasn't projected as a major New York Giants need when this offseason began, but man did they attack it like one. The Giants spent big money to sign Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and added Walter Thurmond and Zack Bowman while also re-signing Trumaine McBride.

Amukamara
This flurry of activity did not escape the attention of Prince Amukamara, who was the team's No. 1 cornerback last year and admitted Tuesday that the moves led him to wonder about his role and his future with the team.

"A little bit," the always-honest Amukamara said. "I think it's natural for someone to think that, especially if you feel threatened by the guys and the guys are good. And there are two sides to that. You can look at it and say, 'This guy can help the team,' or you can say, 'This guy might take my spot.' But it's not my job to worry about that."

Amukamara still projects as a starter on the outside opposite Rodgers-Cromartie, with Thurmond likely playing the slot. But Thurmond can absolutely play on the outside if necessary, and Giants coach Tom Coughlin said last month that Rodgers-Cromartie would be asked to cover the opponent's top receiver every week -- an assignment Amukamara had toward the end of last year and was hoping to get again.

Add in the fact the Giants haven't yet decided whether to pick up the 2015 contract option on their 2011 first-round pick, and Amukamara has reason to wonder whether he's in the team's long-term plans.

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it, but I can't really worry about that," Amukamara said. "I've just been living by, 'Only focus on the things I can control.' I could have controlled whether the Giants did or not by my play the last three years, but right now I can't worry about that. If they do it, that's great. If they don't, that's great too. But I would be very excited if they did, of course."

The option likely would be around $7 million for 2015 (it's the average of the salaries of the No. 3 through No. 25 highest paid cornerbacks in the league), and it wouldn't be fully guaranteed until the first day of the 2015 season. But the Giants have to decide by May 3 whether to pick it up, or else Amukamara would be a free agent following the 2014 season. Rodgers-Cromartie carries a cap hit in excess of $7 million for 2015, so it's possible the Giants wouldn't want to pay two cornerbacks that much. But it's a premium position in today's NFL, and the Giants treat it as one, so it's not out of the question either.

"It shows that the team wants you," Amukamara said. "And who wouldn't want to feel wanted?"

After the Giants' cornerback signing spree, it sounds as though Amukamara would like to know whether he is.
Our man Adam Caplan says the New York Giants have agreed to a one-year contract with free-agent cornerback Zack Bowman. That makes 20 free-agent signings for the Giants so far this offseason, four of whom play cornerback.

Bowman, 29, is known as a strong special teams player. So even if he can't find a way into the suddenly crowded mix at defensive back, he's likely to make a contribution on the kick and punt coverage units. But he did start seven games for the Bears last year and had two interceptions during that stretch.

The Giants this offseason already re-signed cornerback Trumaine McBride and signed veteran cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond from the Broncos and Seahawks, respectively. Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara project as starters, with Thurmond apparently ticketed for the slot corner role. But with Thurmond, McBride and now Bowman on the roster, all of whom have experience as starters on the outside, the Giants count the cornerback position as the deepest on their roster.
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.

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