The Giants have signed my client, TE Jerome Cunningham @Coco_Loco86 to their Practice Squad. Congrats Jerome, hard work pays off!— Pro Football Mgmt (@HowardShatsky) September 2, 2014
The Giants liked Cunningham, who signed after the start of camp, and believe he could develop into a contributor at a position of significant need for them at some point this season. They initially planned to keep four tight ends on their active roster, but they only ended up keeping three after cutting veteran Kellen Davis on Saturday. So it's not certain they'd need an injury to Larry Donnell, Adrien Robinson or Daniel Fells to put Cunningham on the roster.
The Giants ended up keeping six wide receivers, largely because of the injury that continues to sideline first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. Once Beckham is healthy, the Giants likely can get by with five wide receivers (of whom Beckham would be one), and if they wanted to go back to four tight ends at that time they could add Cunningham.
The addition of Cunningham brings the number of players on the Giants' practice squad to nine. They are allowed up to 10. They had several players in for workouts Tuesday to try out for the final spots. One of those players was Ball State wide receiver Willie Snead, who spent training camp with the Cleveland Browns.
Since I think it's interesting to see how the New York Giants are viewed by those of us who aren't so focused on them every day, I thought this would be a good idea. So like I said, I stole it. Pat won't mind. We go way back.
Based on the game-by-game predictions of the team reporters covering the Giants' opponents, the Giants will have a 6-10 record this year. My game-by-game prediction got them to 8-8. Let's take a look at where my picks differ from those of the other team reporters. For context, I put next to each reporter's name his or her predicted final record for his or her team. You can also click on the team reporter's name for his or her game-by-game predictions, in case you'd like to read more about the picks.
Week 1 -- at Detroit (Mon.)
My pick: Giants
Mike Rothstein (8-8): Lions
Week 2 -- vs. Cardinals
My pick: Cardinals
Josh Weinfuss (9-7): Giants
Week 3 -- vs. Texans
My pick: Giants
Tania Ganguli (8-8): Giants
Week 4 -- at Washington (Thu.)
My pick: Redskins
John Keim (7-9): Redskins
Week 5 -- vs. Falcons
My pick: Giants
Vaughn McClure (9-7): Falcons
Week 6 -- at Philadelphia
My pick: Eagles
Phil Sheridan (11-5): Eagles
Week 7 -- at Dallas
My pick: Cowboys
Todd Archer (8-8): Cowboys
Week 8 -- BYE
Week 9 -- vs. Colts (Mon.)
My pick: Colts
Mike Wells (11-5): Colts
Week 10 -- at Seattle
My pick: Seahawks
Terry Blount (13-3): Seahawks
Week 11 -- vs. 49ers
My pick: 49ers
Paul Gutierrez (11-5): 49ers
Week 12 -- vs. Cowboys
My pick: Giants
Todd Archer (8-8): Giants
Week 13 -- at Jacksonville
My pick: Giants
Mike DiRocco (6-10): Giants
Week 14 -- at Tennessee
My pick: Giants
Paul Kuharsky (7-9): Giants
Week 15 -- vs. Redskins
My pick: Giants
John Keim (7-9): Giants
Week 16 -- at St. Louis
My pick: Rams
Nick Wagoner (6-10): Rams
Week 17 -- vs. Eagles
My pick: Giants
Phil Sheridan (11-5): Eagles
Rothstein and I differ on the opener, but I acknowledge that the only reason I'm picking the Giants in the opener is that I don't think anyone else will, and I hate picking the same thing everyone else picks.
Sheridan has the Eagles going 5-1 in the division, including two victories each against Washington and the Giants. I can't predict the NFC East, so what I did was I gave the Giants wins in their home division games and losses in the road ones. Seemed fair.
Everybody seems to agree that that Week 6-11 stretch is the killer for the Giants. McClure adds to it with his prediction of a Falcons road win, and that makes Week 4-11 a seven-game losing streak that would put the Giants at 2-8 after 10 weeks if my colleagues are all correct.
Anyway, take this for what it's worth. I hope you enjoyed it.
I don't think it's a bad ranking, and you could make the case that it's a bit of a generous one. The three teams immediately behind them -- the Jets, Dolphins and Cowboys -- all had better records in 2013, and I don't see how it's cut and dried that the Giants' roster is better than those rosters on paper. Not saying it's definitely worse, but I think this is fair company for the Giants to be keeping in a 2014 preseason Power Rankings poll, is all.
The Giants can take some encouragement from the fact that they rank second among NFC East teams in our poll. The Eagles are the top NFC East team, with a ranking of No. 7. The Cowboys come in at No. 23 and Washington sits at No. 25. Eagles seem a bit high for my taste, but I agree that they are the one NFC East team that appears capable of making the leap into the top echelon of NFC East powers this year, if any NFC East team is.
Anyway, as you know, these change -- a lot -- during the season and they'll likely look a lot different just one week from now, after everyone's played a game. For my money, the exciting part of all of this ranking/predicting stuff we're doing today is knowing the season is close enough to justify it all.
We had 64 people here at ESPN issue preseason predictions -- all 32 of our NFL Nation team reporters plus 32 national NFL writers/personalities. Of those 64, only five picked the Giants to reach the playoffs.
Four of those people picked the Giants to win the NFC East. Only ESPN Insider K.C. Joyner (who picked the Giants to win the division in 2011 when the Eagles were the popular pick) picked them to win an NFC wild card spot.
The four who picked the Giants to win their division are Bears reporter Michael C. Wright, Buccaneers reporter Pat Yasinskas, 49ers reporter Paul Gutierrez and Neil Payne of FiveThirtyEight.com.
Of the 64 ESPN experts issuing predictions, 53 picked the Philadelphia Eagles to win the NFC East. Seven picked Washington, and I was one of them. I think the Eagles are the division's best team on paper and a worthy favorite, but I just couldn't bring myself to pick a repeat champion in this wacky division. So I picked Washington because I think it is loaded at the offensive skill positions, and I think Robert Griffin III can bounce back. Not that I don't think Eli Manning can bounce back, but I think the group around Griffin looks better on paper than the group around Manning does.
Also, all 64 experts were asked to pick Coach of the Year, MVP and Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year. No one picked Tom Coughlin or any Giants player. As I said, expectations for this team are low.
Personally, I went with the Saints over the Patriots in the Super Bowl, picked Sean Payton for Coach of the Year, Drew Brees for MVP and Brandin Cooks for Offensive Rookie of the Year, so I'm kind of all-in on the Saints this year. I picked Baltimore's C.J. Mosley for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The Saints are not an unpopular pick. Of our 64 experts, 13 of us picked New Orleans to win the Super Bowl. The only team that got more votes was the Denver Broncos, with 18.
The other Super Bowl picks are the 49ers (12 votes), the defending champion Seahawks (9), the Patriots (6), the Eagles (3) and the Packers (3).
If you'd like to check out all of the predictions, here are some links:
Other ESPN Personalities
I spoke Monday with defensive end Kerry Wynn and wide receiver Corey Washington, who made the team as undrafted rookies out of Richmond and Newberry, respectively. Wrote about Wynn here Monday. Unlike Wynn, Washington didn't sweat out the whole day Saturday to find out whether he'd made the team. Washington said he'd given Giants player development director David Tyree his new cell phone number, and Tyree texted him early Saturday morning to tell him he'd made it.
"Smart move, young man. Congrats. Time to get to work," was Tyree's text message to the rookie.
Washington caught touchdown passes in each of the Giants' first four preseason games. Season-ending injuries to Marcus Harris and Mario Manningham cleared out some spots, and Washington and Preston Parker both made the team as wide receivers. Washington said Monday that he has been working in practice in four-wide receiver sets and in the red zone, where his 6-foot-4 frame certainly makes him an interesting option. (He's on special teams, too, of course.) The Giants are likely to leave Washington on the bench and go with Jerrel Jernigan for now in their three-receiver formations.
Giants veteran defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said he wasn't surprised to see a pair of undrafted rookies make the roster.
"I've never seen a group of rookies this good in terms of responding to criticism and wanting to use it to get better," Kiwanuka said. "You're talking about guys who, when you tell them, 'This is what you're doing wrong with your technique,' their response is to want to go out on the practice field, or stay after practice and work on it. That's what makes you a pro."
Just six more days until the Giants open their regular season Monday Night in Detroit against the Lions.
ESPN.com New York Giants reporter Dan Graziano makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.
Week 1: at Detroit Lions
The Giants are coming off a mess of a preseason, undermanned and overwhelmed, with the offensive line still a mess and the new offense not clicking at all. No one will pick them to win this game. Except me. Prediction: Win
Week 2: Arizona Cardinals
This one's a comedown off the Week 1 surprise, as Arizona's banged-up defense still manages to flummox Eli Manning and collect a few interceptions. It's a bummer of a home opener as reality begins to set in. Prediction: Loss
Week 3: Houston Texans
Houston's defense is as liable as Arizona's to make life miserable for Manning and the offensive line. But Houston has bigger questions on offense than even the Giants, and this is a win for the New York defense against Ryan Fitzpatrick. Prediction: Win
Week 4: at Washington Redskins
Week 5: Atlanta Falcons
The pattern continues, and the Giants overcome two Osi Umenyiora sacks to outscore the Falcons with a furious Manning comeback in the final minutes. The Giants poke their heads over the .500 mark as they make the turn into the most brutal stretch of their schedule. Prediction: Win
Week 6: at Philadelphia Eagles
The Giants don't have Matt Barkley to kick around this time when they visit the City of Brotherly Love. Chip Kelly and the Eagles show them what a truly innovative offense looks like. Prediction: Loss
Week 7: at Dallas Cowboys
The season-long debate about what gives when an anemic Giants offense meets a pathetic Cowboys defense tilts in Dallas' favor in the first meeting. Tony Romo & Co. have more than enough weapons to outscore Manning and his bunch, and the Giants hit the bye with a 3-4 record. Prediction: Loss
Week 9: Indianapolis Colts
After a long break before the Monday night home game, the Giants get taken apart by Andrew Luck, Hakeem Nicks & Co. at MetLife Stadium for a third straight loss. The offense is starting to run more smoothly, but it still doesn't have enough playmakers to outscore one of the league's better offenses. Prediction: Loss
Week 10: at Seattle Seahawks
You're kidding, right? Prediction: Loss
Week 11: San Francisco 49ers
The Giants have obviously handled the Niners in recent years and in some high-profile situations. But by this point in the season, San Francisco's defense is back to full strength, and the 49ers can't afford to lose ground to the Seahawks by failing to beat the team Seattle just beat the week before. Prediction: Loss
Week 12: Dallas Cowboys
A sixth straight loss is by no means out of the question here, as Romo and his crew still have the potential to outscore anyone in a given week. But from this far out, I'll forecast that something goes wrong for Romo late in this game, and the Giants get a gift. Prediction: Win
Week 13: at Jacksonville Jaguars
This is where the schedule starts to soften up, when the Giants start playing teams that insist on not starting their best quarterback. It's unfortunate they're 4-7 at this point and just about out of the playoff hunt, but they will get it going against the bottom-feeders. Prediction: Win
Week 14: at Tennessee Titans
I think the Titans are going to be dreadful this year, and by December they won't be very difficult for anyone to beat, even at home. A third straight victory keeps the Giants' hopes alive. Prediction: Win
Week 15: Washington Redskins
Have to be honest: The NFC East is so unpredictable that, when doing these predictions, I just decided to give the Giants a 3-3 division record with victories in all three home games and losses in all three road games. It's as fair a way as any to do it, I believe. Prediction: Win
Week 16: at St. Louis Rams
After moving back to .500 with four straight wins, the season falls apart at the hands of the St. Louis pass rush. An offensive line that has once again been the Giants' biggest problem all year can't protect Manning in a must-win game. Prediction: Loss
Week 17: Philadelphia Eagles
Tom Coughlin's teams can always find a way to play for pride. The Giants' playoff hopes are extinguished, but they still manage to end the season on a high note and with a .500 record. Prediction: Win
Predicted Record: 8-8
So as the Giants begin their official preparations for their "Monday Night Football" opener in Detroit, Manning is focusing on the things the Giants' offense did well in the preseason, and choosing to build on those.
Manning has, throughout the summer, painted a picture of an offense that is almost there. He also said last week that he expected this new offense, under first-year coordinator Ben McAdoo, to remain a work in progress throughout at least part of the season. The trick will be finding ways to win games while everyone is still getting fully up to speed.
"The big thing happening in the preseason, the reason we won a couple of games, is because we didn't beat ourselves," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "If you look at the numbers, you can see that. So that is something we can hang our hat on, regardless of what the statistics are."
You can start to imagine a plan in which the Giants get things started this season with a run-heavy offensive game plan whose emphasis is on limiting turnovers, then build a passing game off of that as the season goes along. Not that they would admit to something like that, but it might make sense since they feel good about their defense and the ability of their offensive line to at least block the run.
"I have been practicing and I know exactly what we are capable of," wide receiver Victor Cruz said, when asked his reasons for optimism. "I know all of the things we've implemented that are beneficial to us and can benefit us on game day, and I'm excited to put that to the test come Monday Night."
That is when we will start finding out just what the Giants believe they're able to do with their offense right now, and maybe what they might have to wait until later in the season to try.
Coughlin said the plan for Beason is to practice a set number of plays in the three practices the Giants have later this week -- Thursday, Friday and Saturday -- and then to determine based on that how much he will be able to play Monday Night. Beason's hope is to start at middle linebacker, but the Giants are comfortable if they have to use Jameel McClain in that spot and rookie Devon Kennard on the strong side, as they did during training camp and the preseason.
"We have great personalities, guys who can do a little bit of everything," Beason said of his fellow Giants linebackers. "I think it's a great room. I have tremendous confidence in everybody we have."
But having Beason on the field makes a difference, as players who were on the team in 2013 were quick to point out. The Giants were without an answer at middle linebacker until they traded for Beason early in the 2013 season, and they credit him for much of the turnaround their defense made following the team's 0-6 start.
"It's good to see him back," defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka said. "He's a hell of a player. He came out last year when we needed him and did a great job, and it was tough to see him go down with an injury. Having him back makes our defense better."
The fact that Beason was cleared to come off the PUP list and resume practicing this week indicates that he will be at full strength sooner rather than later. Even if he's not able to handle a full starter's workload in Week 1, he will be able to make some sort of contribution, and it shouldn't be long before he is back doing what he did for the Giants last season.
"I just went out there in camp trying to make some plays, stand out and try not to do anything bad, because I'm an undrafted rookie," Wynn said Monday. "I ask a lot of questions and just make sure I'm staying up with everybody else."
He and Damontre Moore shared the team lead with seven quarterback hurries in the preseason, and Pro Football Focus gave Wynn a +1.4 grade as a run-stopper, which ranked him 22nd among 4-3 defensive ends in the preseason.
"He has very good size and he runs well," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of the 6-foot-5, 264-pound Wynn. "He's a young prospect who works hard and studies hard. We think he has a lot of upside."
Wynn said he spent Saturday in his hotel room with his mother, watching the clock nervously and hoping no one would call to tell him he'd been cut. Shortly after 4 p.m. ET, the deadline for teams to reduce their rosters to 53, he called his agent, who confirmed for him he had made the final cut. Then he got back to studying and preparing for this week of practice heading into the regular season.
"Pass rush, play the run, play special teams, whatever they need me to do, I'm going to do it," Wynn said. "Just saying 'Yes, sir' and putting my best foot forward."
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants first-round draft pick Odell Beckham Jr. still isn't practicing, certainly won't be ready to play in the regular-season opener next Monday night at Detroit and could be two or three weeks away from returning from the hamstring injury that has sidelined him since the start of training camp.
All of this according to coach Tom Coughlin, who felt the need to meet with his rookie wide receiver Sunday to remind him not to rush back and risk further injury just because of external pressure.
"Let's just let this kid get better," Coughlin said after practice Monday. "I went to him yesterday to say, 'Let's just not have any more setbacks.' Because it's every day the same question over and over. He's not ready to play. He may be a couple or three weeks away. I'll let you know when he's ready."
Beckham said he's frustrated at not being able to play but that he appreciated Coughlin's message and support.
"It just makes me more comfortable to know, 'Make sure you get right. Take your time,'" Beckham said. "Hurting yourself is really hurting the team, so I've just got to try to get better every day. It's great to have the feeling of Coach having your back."
Beckham missed the team's June minicamp with a hamstring injury and aggravated it in the team's first practice of training camp July 22. He returned to practice on a limited basis a couple of weeks later but injured it again and hasn't practiced on the field with the rest of the team since Aug. 18.
He said he's mystified as to why it's taken so long to heal.
"Just kept re-aggravating it," Beckham said. "Right now I'm just taking it day by day. I don't set any limits on myself."
At this point, with only three more practices left before next Monday night's regular-season opener in Detroit, it's hard to imagine Beckham playing in Week 1. It's not impossible to think he could practice in full Thursday, Friday and Saturday and be cleared to play, but it's not likely Tom Coughlin and the Giants' coaching staff would deem three practices enough to put a rookie wide receiver on the field for a game that counts.
Beason has been hoping since he injured his foot in OTAs to play in Week 1, and barring a setback this week it appears he will. The Giants likely will evaluate Beason as the week goes on and determine how much he'll be able to play in the opener. If he has to take a reduced workload, they are confident with Jameel McClain filling in for him at middle linebacker and Devon Kennard starting on the strong side in McClain's place.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin) and offensive linemen James Brewer (back) and Charles Brown (shoulder) all appeared to be back and practicing in full. Guard Brandon Mosley (back) was working on the side with trainers, which means John Jerry is likely to start at right guard in the opener.
NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal lists quarterback Blake Bortles among the players who earned honorable mention honors for the website's Preseason MVP award. New York Giants receiver Corey Washington scored the game-wining touchdown in all four preseason games.
The New England Patriots traded backup quarterback Ryan Mallett to the Houston Texans. NFL Nation Patriots reporter Mike Reiss breaks down the trade mainly from the New England perspective, but also from the Texans' viewpoint as well.
The Florida Times-Union's Hays Carlyon writes that the Jaguars are seeking more improvement on special teams.
The T-U's Ryan O'Halloran writes that the Jaguars have the second-youngest roster in the NFL.
Of the seven players signed, six were released by the Giants in Saturday's cut-down to 53 players. The seventh, offensive tackle Nick Becton, was waived Tuesday by the San Diego Chargers.
Here are the seven players on the Giants' practice squad so far:
RB Michael Cox
CB Bennett Jackson
CB Chandler Fenner
LB Dan Fox
DE Jordan Stanton
WR Julian Talley
OT Nick Becton
Obviously, that leaves three spots still to fill. The Giants were interested in signing defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles to the practice squad after waiving him Saturday, but he was claimed off waivers by the New England Patriots.