New York Giants: Brandon Collins

Practice report: No. 88 back on the field

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

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

In other news from Tuesday's practice:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Camp preview: Wide receiver

July, 25, 2012
Training camp starts tomorrow. Here is the final installment of our position-by-position countdown to Giants camp.

Position: Wide receiver.

Projected starters: Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz.

Projected reserves: Domenik Hixon, Rueben Randle, Ramses Barden and Jerrel Jernigan.

New faces: Randle, Brandon Collins, David Douglas and Julian Talley.

Going, going, gone: Mario Manningham, Devin Thomas and Michael Clayton.

Player to watch: Cruz. He exploded onto not just the NFL scene last year with a record-setting season but he arguably is one of the most visible and popular Giants players. But Cruz is motivated to prove that he is not a one-hit wonder. Topping 82 receptions for 1,536 yards and nine touchdowns will be difficult.

It will be interesting to see how he adapts to more defensive attention this season. Cruz is more experienced and should continue to get better. With Nicks recovering from a broken toe, Cruz will benefit in camp by taking No. 1 reps with Eli Manning.

Last year, he felt pressure to make the team and remain in the NFL. Now he has the pressure to prove that he is a star and should be paid like one since he is in the final year of his contract.

Potential strength: The Giants have one of the best receiving tandems in the NFL with Nicks and Cruz. Nicks is expected to be ready for the season opener and when healthy he is capable of being one of the league’s dominant receivers as evidenced by his seven catches for 165 yards and two touchdowns against Green Bay in the playoffs. He also had 10 receptions for 109 yards in the Super Bowl and those are the type of big-game performances that could carry over to this season and catapult his game to another level.

With Nicks and Cruz at his disposal, Manning has two playmakers that can break a big play on any throw. Nicks and Cruz combined for 14 plays of 40 yards gained or more on catches last season.

Hixon has the most experience after those two and is the front-runner entering camp as the third receiver. Barden and Jernigan are eager to show what they are capable of and the Giants are excited about Randle. It remains to be seen how many receivers the Giants keep on the roster. Collins has impressed some at OTAs and minicamp. Collins, Douglas, Talley, Isaiah Stanback and Dan DePalma will be fighting for a roster spot.

Potential weakness: The loss of Manningham hurts if the team cannot find a third threat to replace him. Manningham may have been inconsistent at times but defenses had to respect his big-play ability. Nicks and Cruz, especially, benefited from Manningham being on the field.

Manningham also provided the team with a capable starter if Nicks or Cruz had to miss time due to injury. The Giants drafted Randle with hopes that the LSU receiver can replace Manningham. Until he is ready to do so, Hixon is the leading candidate to be the third wideout. But he is returning from a torn ACL for the second straight season so the team will be cautious with him.

Barden and Jernigan hope to show the coaches that they are up to the task in camp. For Barden, this is his biggest opportunity to show that he is worth the third-round pick the Giants spent on him in 2009. This is also a big camp for Jernigan, the team’s third-rounder in 2011. Jernigan has a chance to show he can be the third receiver while also potentially becoming the team’s punt returner as well. But both Barden and Jernigan have limited experience.

Wildcard: Randle. If Randle is everything he’s advertised to be –- NFL-ready with deceptive speed and big-play ability –- the Giants have their third receiver. It remains to be seen how long it will take to become comfortable with Kevin Gilbride’s offense, to learn to react to defensive coverages and adjust to Manning’s audibles. But the coaches and Manning have been impressed with Randle through OTAs and minicamp and they believe he does have the ability to stretch the field.

If Randle doesn’t win the job by the end of camp, he could emerge as a factor as the season goes on. Remember, Cruz didn’t emerge until the third game of the season although he did have two training camps under his belt whereas Randle is going through his first camp.

Tell us what you think of the wide receivers.

The OC: State of the offense

June, 14, 2012
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Following the final practice of the Giants' three-day minicamp on Thursday, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride met with reporters to discuss the state of his unit.

Here are a few nuggets from that session:

• First of all, Gilbride spoke for over 10 minutes, and not once did the name "Eli Manning" come up. Guess that's what happens when your starting quarterback is a two-time Super Bowl MVP and still in his prime. No questions necessary.

• There were questions about rookie running back David Wilson and rookie wide receiver Rueben Randle, but they were addressed here.

• When asked about injured wideout Hakeem Nicks, and whether he might be ready in time for the start of the regular season:

"I don’t know. I’m hoping," Gilbride said. "I've got my fingers crossed -- my knees are hurting from being on them praying. He’s such a big part of what we’re doing."

"The thing that’s a tragedy here is that, there were so many things that we were looking forward to really developing with him, and really taking advantage of this time to focus on developing his entire skill set," he added. "There are certain things he can do extremely well, and certain things -- before you even ask, I’m not gonna get into it -- but this was gonna be a great chance for us to go another step ahead with him, and there’s nothing you can do, he’s hurt."

• In terms of other wide receivers on the roster, Gilbride mentioned that he had seen "flashes" from second-year man Jerrel Jernigan, and also spoke very highly of Brandon Collins, an undrafted rookie from Southeastern Louisiana. "Good speed, great quickness, but also picking up the offense pretty quick," said Gilbride.

• Gilbride wasn't as positive when speaking about the tight end position, lamenting the loss of Jake Ballard, to injury and the Patriots. "Right now, we’ve got a long way to go in that spot," he said.

He didn't exactly give Bear Pascoe, the Giants' lone returning veteran at the position, a ringing endorsement as a potential starter, although he did have some nice things to say:

"You hoped to have Bear as a swing guy," said Gilbride, "a 'B,' a second tight end, that could motion back and play at the fullback position, give you what he’s always given you, which is unbelievable toughness, and somehow making plays that maybe you didn’t think he should be able to make -- he always seems to make 'em for you. Not necessarily as your starting tight end, but right now he’s the starting tight end."

Free agent signee Martellus Bennett was very limited this week because of a hamstring injury, and fourth-round draft pick Adrien Robinson missed most of the Giants' offseason program while finishing up at school.

"You’re hoping Martellus [is the starter], that’s why he was brought here," Gilbride added. "You’re hoping that Adrien Robinson down the road will be the guy. If not, Bear’s gonna be the guy. ... Somebody’s gotta do it."

• In terms of the offensive line, Gilbride continues to be concerned -- particularly because Will Beatty, slated to be the team's starting left tackle next season, has also been very limited because of a bad back.

"We need him," said Gilbride. "He’s gotta be there."

The team has had a lot of turnover on the O-line the last couple of years, saying goodbye to veterans Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert, and not re-signing Kareem McKenzie following last season.

"We’re not thin numerically," Gilbride said, "but with experienced proven guys that you can say, 'Hey, I feel real good about them.'"