New York Giants: quintin demps

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The last game against Washington was a low point for New York Giants safety Stevie Brown. Brown was benched after getting burned for a long touchdown the week before against Houston, and was replaced as a starting safety by Quintin Demps in the Week 4 game at Washington. He would play just four of the team's 57 defensive snaps that night, and only about 20 percent of them for the next eight weeks.

Brown
"He was upset," Giants coach Tom Coughlin recalled Friday. "He was internalizing all of that, and he didn't mind discussing it with anybody that would bring it up. But he did it the right way, obviously."

Brown opened everyone's eyes with his eight-interception season in 2012 but missed all of 2013 after tearing his ACL in preseason. His road back from the injury was a tough one, and he was eager to resume his role as a starting safety for the Giants this season. But he played poorly in the first three games and says now that it was because he got too caught up in trying to make big plays happen instead of letting them happen in their time.

"When you're someone who's looked at as a playmaker and the plays aren't happening, it's frustrating," Brown said Friday. "That's when you start to force the issue."

Brown was looking for interceptions rather than handling the assignments the defense was giving him. Perry Fewell's defense is assignment-driven, and efforts to freelance have a tendency to hurt rather than help. Brown's mistakes could have been avoided if he'd simply done what he was supposed to do instead of trying to replicate his magical 2012 run.

"When I had mistakes, it was at times when I was trying to do more than I was asked to do," Brown said. "I can't be doing that."

Brown is back in the starting lineup now. He's played every snap on defense the last two weeks and is once again a starter. He'd love to start racking up interceptions again, because what defensive back wouldn't? But he's wiser for his September errors, his knee feels great, and he believes he can finish strong and carry a good feeling into the offseason.

"I told him our team needed him to play the way he is capable of playing," Coughlin said. "He got back on the field, and he has made a nice contribution. I'm hoping he can do more. He does have outstanding hands, and he does have the ability to maneuver in center field, so you'd like to think he can maybe get in position to have an interception."

Meantime, just staying in position will do for now.
Injuries could force the New York Giants' defense to look a little bit different in the weeks that follow this week's bye. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins strained his right calf in Sunday's loss in Dallas. Middle linebacker Jon Beason might need surgery to repair the toe injury that's been limiting him since June. And injuries at cornerback could lead the Giants to bring back the three-safety look they used on their way to their most recent Super Bowl title three seasons ago.

"The game plan last week was to have Stevie Brown in the game with the three-safety package versus certain personnel groupings," safeties coach Dave Merritt said Tuesday. "That worked out for us, because Stevie went in and did his job and did what we asked him to do. The fact that we used to play the three-safety package a ton back in the day was because of the fact that we had three veterans who were able to play. I'm talking about Kenny Phillips, Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant. Right now, we feel like we've tested the waters and we have the same right now in our camp here."

[+] EnlargeStevie Brown
AP Photo/Seth WenigStevie Brown could see more playing time as the Giants adapt to injuries in their secondary.
The plan coming into this year was to play three cornerbacks most of the time. The team signed Walter Thurmond to play the nickel spot, but he suffered a season-ending injury in September, and Trumaine McBride, who took over, suffered his own season-ending injury in Week 6. So they are down to their third-string nickel cornerback, Jayron Hosley, and they don't seem comfortable leaning on him to the extent that they leaned on Thurmond or McBride.

Brown entered the season as a starting safety, but he lost his job in Week 4 after a poor start to the season and was replaced by Quintin Demps. Coaches have been pleased with the work Brown has put in since the demotion, and they believe there are situations in which it's better to have him, Demps and Rolle on the field at the same time than it is to have three cornerbacks. This arrangement could force Rolle into the nickel spot, a position he has said in the past he's willing to play but prefers not to, but Merritt said they are comfortable with Brown in there as well.

On the defensive line, Jenkins' absence for at least a few weeks leaves the Giants thin at defensive tackle. But they have had success playing defensive ends Robert Ayers and Mathias Kiwanuka at interior positions in pass-rush situations this season, and they might decide to do that more going forward to augment the defensive tackle rotation. Rookie defensive tackle Jay Bromley likely will be elevated to the active roster in Jenkins' absence, but there's also a chance second-year defensive end Damontre Moore could get more looks on the outside when Ayers and/or Kiwanuka move inside.

"Damontre needs to continue to improve and stay focused on what we're doing on first and second down," defensive line coach Robert Nunn said. "He can do it. He's a lighter body, not ideal, but he can play it. He has to stay focused and continue to improve in that area, and he will get more at-bats. He's going to get more opportunities on third down, so he just has to keep coming along and improve on first and second down. If he does that, then he's going to get those opportunities in pass-rush situations."

Moore has shown exciting ability in pass-rush situations and on special teams. But he has yet to earn the complete trust of the coaching staff as a player who can stop the run (and avoid jumping offsides).

No trust issues at linebacker, though. When Beason missed time early in the season, Jameel McClain filled in for him in the middle. At the time, rookie Devon Kennard was hurt, so Mark Herzlich replaced McClain on the strong side. This time, if Beason is out a while, Kennard could be the one who sees more playing time.

"Now that he's healthy, he's contributing on special teams, and last week was able to go in the game and do some good things," linebackers coach Jim Herrmann said of Kennard. "It was good to see him get out and get some game experience, because that is invaluable for a young linebacker. The other guys love him. He's got a great personality, and he wants to be great. I think we'll see some really good things out of him."
LANDOVER, Md. -- The New York Giants were one of only three teams in the NFL that didn't take the ball away from its opponent in the first two weeks of the season. It was a trend they have spoke in practice and meetings about reversing.

Amukamara
 "Coach [Perry] Fewell has been challenging us to get turnovers, and ever since the first week he's been telling us we need to be more Zack Bowman-ish, since [Giants cornerback] Zack Bowman is known for getting turnovers," cornerback Prince Amukamara said after Thursday's 45-14 victory over Washington. "We've been rising to the challenge."

Bowman did not have one of the Giants' four interceptions Thursday, but Amukamara did, and it was something of a milestone for him. After collecting just one interception in each of his first three NFL seasons, Amukamara now has one in each of his last two games -- and a career-high two for the season.

"Zack's been staying with me after practice, catching balls off the JUGS machine, and he told me after last week, 'There's more to get,'" Amukamara said. "And tonight he came to me and said, 'You broke your record.' The knock on me has always been I have bad hands or I'm not a big playmaker or whatever. So it's definitely good to be able to show that part of my game."

It's vital for the team as well. The Giants had six takeaways in the game and only turned the ball over once. A plus-five turnover differential is a pretty good way to ensure a victory in the NFL. According to ESPN Stats & Information, since the start of the 2013 season, the Giants are 7-0 when they have a positive turnover differential, and 2-11 when they do not.

"It's Christmas, that's what it is," said safety Antrel Rolle, who had another of the interceptions. "You want games like that, where you're playing ahead and the other team is trying to play catch-up, and you know they have to force the ball. They're trying to make the long throws and complete long passes, and it gives the defense more opportunities to create turnovers."

Amukamara and safety Quintin Demps, who also had an interception in his first game replacing Stevie Brown as a starter, said Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins was staring down receivers Thursday night, and that helped the defensive backs jump routes and anticipate where the ball was going.

Good pressure by the defensive line and blitzing linebackers in the first half helped get Cousins off his game -- especially when Mathias Kiwanuka came unblocked for an early sack/fumble.

And Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie held up their end in man coverage against star Washington receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, respectively. Strong defensive effort all around, but the Giants feel a lot better about those strong defensive efforts when they come with a big pile of turnovers.

"It's a mindset," said Bowman, who came over from the takeaway-happy Bears this offseason and has been preaching that since training camp. "Once you start getting them, it can snowball. It can get contagious. That's where we are right now."

Beason inactive for Giants in Washington

September, 25, 2014
Sep 25
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LANDOVER, Md. -- New York Giants linebacker Jon Beason will miss his second straight game because of a foot injury. He was listed as doubtful on the injury report Wednesday, but his name was on the list when the Giants announced their seven inactive players for Thursday night's game against Washington at FedEx Field.

The Giants had hoped Beason would be able to play after practicing a bit this week, but obviously the very short time between games made that even more challenging. It's possible the 10 days between this game and their next one will give him enough time to heal to the point in which he can play.

In his place, Jameel McClain will move over from strongside linebacker to start at middle linebacker and Mark Herzlich will start at strongside linebacker for the second game in a row. That role likely would have been rookie Devon Kennard's, but he's out for the third game in a row with a hamstring injury. Herzlich isn't an ideal solution, but he's stronger against the run than Spencer Paysinger or Dan Fox. The Giants play most of the game in a nickel defense, so they usually only have two linebackers -- McClain and Jacquian Williams, in this case -- on the field at a time. But when they are in their base defense, they have more faith in Herzlich's ability to stop the run than they do the other remaining linebacker options on their team.

Safety Stevie Brown is not injured, but he has officially lost his starting job, at least for this game. The Giants announced Quintin Demps as their starting free safety. More on that move here.

Giants-Redskins: Full list of inactives.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants signed Quintin Demps primarily to be a kick returner, but he's a safety too, and he knows the most important thing about playing the position.

"You've got to be deeper than the deepest," Demps said Tuesday. "Deeper than the deepest, that's what it's all about."

Demps
Stevie Brown did not heed this lesson Sunday, when he took a shallow route on a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass to Damaris Johnson and got burned for a 44-yard touchdown in the third quarter of the Giants' victory over Houston. It was the third straight rough game for Brown, who's been slow to work his way back following the ACL surgery that cost him all of 2013, and the Giants have had enough. Brown was benched for the remainder of that game for rookie Nat Berhe. And on Tuesday, Demps was taking Brown's first-team reps at safety.

"It's an opportunity for me," Demps said. "So I just take advantage of the chance to be the best I can be for this team and go from there."

It's not the easiest week to take over as a Giants safety. Tuesday was their only full practice of the week, since they're headed to Washington for the Thursday night game. Washington's offense features two of the best receivers in the game in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, and Jackson's rare speed is one of the toughest challenges a secondary faces all season.

"You've got to play a little bit deeper with that dude," said Demps, who roomed with Jackson when both were rookies with the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008.

So, if you normally back up two steps, then against Jackson it should be three?

"Four," Demps said. "It's DeSean Jackson, man. All he does is run."

Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is also a former teammate of Jackson's, having played for the Eagles in 2011 and 2012, so he's practiced against him, too. The two are close friends, and Jackson offered Rodgers-Cromartie a compliment Tuesday when asked if his former teammate had the speed to cover him.

"DRC is fast," Jackson said. He's one of the ones that can."

Rodgers-Cromartie is likely to draw that assignment, though Garcon, who led the league in catches last year, is no picnic on the other side. Garcon wins with his size and physicality and has shown the ability to catch the ball in short range and take it the distance. But like most of the receivers in the league, he doesn't have Jackson's speed, and so he's the more desirable assignment by default.

"I'd rather face the bigger guys," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "Those shorter, quicker guys are much more difficult."

It's basically a coincidence that the Giants are making a change at safety on the week they face Washington. Brown had a bad first game, running into Rodgers-Cromartie on Calvin Johnson's long touchdown in Detroit. And after the loss to Arizona, Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Brown still didn't look like the ballhawking player he was in 2012, when he got eight interceptions. After another rough game Sunday, it was time for a change.

Demps is a very fast safety (hence his kick-return responsibilities), but he said he believes he can play strong or free safety and allow the Giants to switch off him and Antrel Rolle as is their preference.

"I feel like I'm interchangeable," Demps said.

His mission Thursday is to make the Giants' decision to change their starting lineup look good. And, of course, to be deeper than the deepest.

 
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
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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.
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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.

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