NFC East: adrien robinson

Giants Camp Report: Day 3

July, 24, 2014
Jul 24
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of training camp:

  • I know you guys want to know about tight ends, so we keep asking. As I wrote here, the initial "unofficial" depth chart listed Larry Donnell as the starter and Adrien Robinson as the No. 5 tight end. Robinson has not impressed coaches in the early going with his ability to catch the ball, and Donnell's was the only name coach Tom Coughlin mentioned when asked if anyone was standing out in the group so far. Coughlin said different guys do on different days, but he mentioned that Donnell had a strong practice Wednesday.
  • The Giants cut practice short to get in a "recovery stretch" because the GPS monitors they're attaching to their players told them it would be a good day to do so. There's a renewed emphasis on injury prevention and overall health and wellness in this year's Giants camp. Candy and other sweet snacks have been removed from the players' cafeteria as well.
  • The play of the day at practice was a long Curtis Painter pass that Corey Washington caught with one hand in double-coverage. It was a great play that got the few fans who were on hand fired up, but honestly, if Painter and Washington are in a regular-season game, a lot of things will have gone horribly wrong.
  • The defensive star of the day for me was defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, who batted down an Eli Manning pass and also stuffed a Rashad Jennings run play. Kiwanuka seemed to be getting into the backfield quickly all day. He said earlier in the day that his pass-rush responsibilities have increased this year due to the free-agent departure of Justin Tuck.
  • No one who was worried about rookie running back Andre Williams' ability to catch the ball out of the backfield went home Thursday feeling any better about it. It's not just bad hands. Williams seems to pick up the ball late and doesn't get himself or his hands in position to catch it. They can use him as a goal-line back right away, and he does show more speed and shiftiness getting through the line than his reputation may indicate. But there are plenty of parts of his game that need work, as he himself has admitted.
  • Coughlin said the players would practice in "uppers" (meaning shells and shoulder pads) on Friday and that the first full-pads practice would be Sunday after they come back from Saturday's off-day.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- See now, this is what I'm talking about. The New York Giants just handed out a depth chart here in the media room. And while the nice gentleman who handed it out kept saying, "Officially unofficial," and while it's only July 24, I see no reason why we can't pick through it and overreact to what's on it, do you?

No? I didn't think so. Good. Let's go.

[+] EnlargeAdrien Robinson
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsAdrien Robinson is buried on the Giants' initial training camp depth chart.
First thing that jumps out is that Larry Donnell is listed as the starting tight end. That's not as surprising as the fact that Adrien Robinson is listed as the No. 5 tight end, behind Donnell, Daniel Fells, Xavier Grimble and Kellen Davis. That seems like a message from the coaching staff about Robinson's progress, and it's somewhat shocking considering that Robinson and Donnell have been the guys most mentioned when the organization has talked about expecting its young tight ends to step up.

The thing to remember, of course, is that the only place Robinson has ever been an effective pass-catching tight end is in Jerry Reese's imagination. Robinson caught a total of 29 passes in four years of college football at Cincinnati and didn't catch one in either of his first two NFL seasons. He's a blocking tight end, if anything, but Reese drafted him thinking he had the physical gifts to become a good NFL tight end. It's still possible he turns out to be correct, but to this point there's no evidence to support it.

The Giants' starting tight end job remains wide, wide, wide open and could conceivably still go to someone who's not yet on the team. But it's stunning to see Robinson listed all the way at the back of the depth chart when there was an assumption that he could get the first crack at it.

Elsewhere on this gilded document:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants GM Jerry Reese doesn't love talking about his tight end situation. He doesn't consider it as big a worry as some outside the organization consider it. He points out, correctly, that the Giants' top tight end over the past seven or eight seasons has tended to catch 40-50 passes a season, and he believes he doesn't have to spend major resources to acquire a run-blocking tight end who can offer such a minimal contribution in the passing game.

[+] EnlargeAdrien Robinson
Jim O'Connor/USA TODAY SportsGiants GM Jerry Reese hasn't been shy in comparing tight end Adrien Robinson to Pro Bowl players.
That said, even Reese would have to admit that this year's tight end group looks a little bit thin.

Or would he?

"We feel like we have some young players who have some dynamic skill sets that can get out there and do it," Reese said Wednesday. "Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell, a couple more young tight ends on the roster that we like. Those guys have to go out there and do it."

Fair enough. He has guys he likes athletically but who haven't proven anything yet. He thinks they can and has decided to bank on that. He thinks the risk is small. Robinson can definitely run-block, and if he ends up being able to catch the ball, so much the better.

Problem is, Reese kept talking. And said this:

"The tight end in Denver, Julius Thomas, how many catches did he have before last season? He didn't have many catches. Actually, I think he had one catch going into his third season. So hopefully, we can have a guy step out of the shadows and do something like that for us, because they have the skill set. They just have to get out there and do it."

Okay, so first things first. Julius Thomas, who caught 65 passes for 788 yards and 12 touchdowns with Peyton Manning as his quarterback last season, has just joined Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul on the list of players to whom Jerry Reese has now -- without solicitation -- compared to Robinson. You likely remember that Reese described Robinson by saying, "we hope he can be the JPP of tight ends" after drafting him in the fourth round in 2012. The reference was to the fact that Pierre-Paul was a raw player coming out of college who became a star in his second season. It was an unfair label to affix to Robinson, a fourth-round pick who caught a total of 29 passes in his four years of college football at Cincinnati.

Thomas caught 29 passes (for 453 yards and two touchdowns) in one season as a senior at Portland State in 2010. That was Thomas' only season of college football. The difference between him and Robinson is that Robinson played four years at Cincinnati, and no one ever thought to throw him the ball on a regular basis, whereas once Thomas decided to play football, they found he was pretty awesome at catching it.

So Reese's point on Robinson really isn't much different right now than it was on draft day 2012. He thinks the guy has the skills to be a good tight end in the NFL, but he admits he has no actual proof of that and he's hoping to see some of that proof.

Maybe Robinson can deliver it. If not, maybe Donnell can. Or Xavier Grimble. Or Daniel Fells or Kellen Davis, both of whom actually have a fair amount of NFL tight-end experience.

But based on the guys to whom he likes to compare him to, Reese really thinks Robinson has a lot of talent.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Adrien Robinson has a simple-sounding goal as he embarks on his third season with the New York Giants. One of four tight ends on the roster with a shot to emerge as the Week 1 starter, Robinson is hoping to rise above the rest of his position group.

"I would hope my role is the starter," Robinson said before the Giants' first training camp practice Tuesday. "But all four of us want to be the starter, so we'll see what happens."

Not exactly a bold proclamation. But tepid is the watchword for the Giants' tight end situation. The other three in the four to which he refers are likely Kellen Davis, Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells, though he could have added undrafted Xavier Grimble in there as a fifth candidate. No one in that group has had much experience or success in the NFL, so Robinson was as good a chance as any of them to win the job.

But what's important -- and amazing -- to remember about Robinson is that he really, really, really hasn't played. Robinson has appeared in a total of three games in his first two NFL seasons (and lasted only one play in the only game he played in 2013). He hasn't caught an NFL pass, but really that's nothing new for him, as he only caught a total of 29 passes in his four years playing college football at Cincinnati.

The Giants drafted Robinson in the fourth round of the 2012 draft because he'd dazzled them with a workout in which he'd come off as a physical freak. They believed they could develop his raw skills and make him into a serviceable NFL tight end. GM Jerry Reese famously said of Robinson on draft day, "we hope he can be the JPP of tight ends," referring to 2010 first-rounder Jason Pierre-Paul, who was raw coming out of school but blossomed into a dominant player in his second season. That has, unfortunately, stuck with Robinson, though it was always unfair to compare a fourth-round flyer to a first-round pick.

Yet, with no other clear better options on the roster, here Robinson is with a chance to start at tight end for the Giants. He's engaged. He's talked about how the change from longtime tight ends coach Mike Pope to Kevin Gilbride Jr. has helped him, as his new position coach is much closer to his own age and in some ways easier for him to communicate with. He believes the new offense is a fun one in which to play tight end.

"I think the tight end moves around more than what I'm used to," Robinson said Tuesday. "And I think that could showcase my ability better."

Heck, at this point in his career, it'd be something for Robinson to showcase his ability at all. Watching him in practice Tuesday, he still looks mechanical and sometimes confused as a route-runner. He remains a work in progress. The Giants would tell you they don't need their tight end to catch many passes as long as he can block in the run game, and Robinson can definitely do that. What remains to be seen is whether he can... well, play. It's not something of which he's done very much.
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.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., the New York Giants' first-round draft pick, was held out of the team's OTA on Thursday with a sore hamstring.

Beckham said he first felt the pain at the end of practice on Tuesday. "Just sore. My hamstring is pretty tight," he said. "But it felt pretty good today, two days later. Just typical soreness."

The 12th overall pick did not sound very concerned about the hamstring issue, saying, "I'll probably practice tomorrow." But Giants coach Tom Coughlin was less optimistic.

"He may be [out] longer than that," Coughlin said. "You’re talking about a skilled athlete with a twinge, he may be longer than that."

Beckham Jr. was very durable in college, for what it's worth, playing in all 40 games during his three years at LSU.

Also missing in action: Fellow wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan was not present at the Giants' facility on Thursday, due to a death in the family.

Right guard Chris Snee was in uniform but sat out 11-on-11 team drills. Coughlin indicated it was a scheduled rest day, with Snee coming back from offseason hip and elbow surgeries.

Brandon Mosley, the team's fourth-round draft pick in 2012, played right guard with the first unit in place of Snee. Charles Brown played left tackle in place of the rehabbing Will Beatty. Center J.D. Walton, left guard Geoff Schwartz and right tackle Justin Pugh rounded out the starting O-line.

On the end: Eli Manning completed passes to three different tight ends Thursday during 11-on-11's -- Adrien Robinson, Kellen Davis and Daniel Fells.

Robinson in particular has looked good during the OTAs the media have been permitted to watch this spring, and Coughlin praised both Robinson and fellow tight end Larry Donnell following Thursday's practice.

"I think [Robinson's] done a really good job, in terms of just learning again, not many mental errors. I’ve been really impressed with that," Coughlin said. "[Larry] Donnell the same way. The guys have learned it, they’ve picked it up, they’re out there, they seem to be much more natural, not a lot of plodding. It seems like they’ve grasped what we want done, and let’s just hope they keep going."

The Giants desperately need one or more of these tight ends to step up. The five tight ends currently on the Giants' roster (including undrafted rookie Xavier Grimble) had a combined six catches in the NFL last season.

Return game: Wide receiver Rueben Randle, cornerback Walter Thurmond, and wideouts Victor Cruz and Trindon Holliday were the four players returning punts on Thursday, in that order.

(Thurmond muffed one punt, by the way.)

The three kick returners were safety Quintin Demps, Holliday and running back David Wilson.

Wilson was not yet been cleared for contact this week, as he had hoped, but he was a little more involved in Thursday's practice than he was a week ago. And Coughlin sounded optimistic about Wilson being cleared for training camp.

"Progress has been made, so it’s not a negative report at all in our opinion," Coughlin said. "He’s probably right where he should be."
Football Outsiders has a post up about the biggest remaining holes for each NFC East team. It's an Insider post Insider, but you know how I get a kick out of it when Outsiders posts are Insider. Plus, not a lot going on, so I figured we'd use it to spark a discussion.

To no one's surprise, for the New York Giants, they picked tight end. Scott Kacsmar notes the Giants' offense has relied on its wide receivers in the past and the investment they've made in that position makes it likely they'll do so again under new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. But there's no denying tight end is a position they have failed to address in a significant way:
Where the depth chart is not as bountiful is at tight end, with Kellen Davis, Larry Donnell, Daniel Fells and Adrien Robinson on the roster. They have a combined 145 catches in the NFL and are all better suited to be backups. Manning has done some good things in the past with unheralded tight ends such as Jake Ballard and Kevin Boss, but this might be the barest the cupboard has been in his tenure. It also will be the fifth year in a row the Giants will have a new leading receiver at tight end.

It will indeed, and that's not because of luck or circumstance but rather because of economics. As we've discussed here many times, in the salary-cap era, teams have to make decisions about which positions merit the spending of major resources. This pertains especially to teams whose starting quarterback eats up 16 or 17 percent of their salary cap, as Eli Manning does with the Giants. The tight end position is one at which the Giants have perennially decided to seek cheap solutions, so unless they fall into some kind of super-low-cost deal with Jermichael Finley or Dustin Keller (each of whom comes with major medical concerns that would have to be addressed first, by the way), it looks as though Robinson or maybe Donnell will get his chance.

I think, assuming all else goes according to plan, I agree with tight end as the Giants' biggest roster hole. It's the one spot at which they lack anyone with any reasonable NFL experience. But I think it's worth pointing out that, if things don't go as planned, positions such as center, right guard, left tackle, defensive end, defensive tackle, linebacker and even wide receiver could end up being where the Giants have their biggest holes. As of now, analysis like this assumes Weston Richburg or J.D. Walton emerges, Chris Snee stays healthy, Will Beatty bounces back, Damontre Moore or Robert Ayers makes a leap as a pass-rusher, Johnathan Hankins is ready to be a 16-game starter, they have two starters to go with Jon Beason at linebacker and Rueben Randle and rookie Odell Beckham Jr., are able to be major contributors on the outside. Lot of assumptions there. I think it's going to be interesting to find out where the holes are that we don't currently see, and how quickly and deftly the Giants are able to fill those.
The New York Giants aren't going to spend major resources on the tight end position. This should be clear by now. They haven't done it since they drafted Jeremy Shockey in the first round in 2002, and they believe they can get adequate production at the position for a bargain price. That's why they didn't upgrade there in free agency or the draft this year. It's why I don't think Giants fans should sit around hoping for a Jermichael Finley signing (though he'd likely be a bargain if medically cleared). And it's why I believe them when they say they're going to give 2012 fourth-round pick Adrien Robinson the first crack at the job.

"Well, it's my third year, my weight's down, we've got a new [offensive coordinator], new tight ends coach, everything is fresh," Robinson said Tuesday. "It's a clean slate, and I'm just ready to go."

Robinson is a 6-foot-4, 264-pound specimen the Giants drafted hoping they could develop him into something special. He was a raw project with impressive physical gifts, which is why GM Jerry Reese famously and unfortunately said on draft day that they hoped Robinson could be "the JPP of tight ends." The Giants liked Robinson enough last year to hold him off of injured reserve even as he couldn't get healthy enough to play in a game. They believed, once healthy, that he'd be a major help as a run-blocker as well as a potential outlet target for quarterback Eli Manning in the passing game.

They still think that, and they believe that in his third year in their building, Robinson is ready to take on the challenge of the starting tight end role. He thinks so, too. The key is to be and stay healthy, something he hasn't been able to do to this point. But if that happens, Robinson thinks he's in a better position to succeed than he occupied in his first two seasons in the NFL.

"Everyone wants to play as soon as they get here, but there's nothing you can do about injuries," Robinson said. "That just pretty much took up my whole second year. Now it's about moving forward."

Robinson said he's clicked with Kevin Gilbride Jr., who moved from wide receivers coach to tight ends coach this offseason after the firing of longtime tight ends coach Mike Pope. He said he likes that Gilbride is closer to his own age. He likes that new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's offense seems to offer more opportunity for the tight end to catch passes. He's fired up and appears healthy. Given the other choices that were out there, their proclivity for going cheap at tight end and the number of other needs they needed to fill this offseason, the Giants are right to give Robinson a shot to see whether he can do it. If he can, what a bonus that will be.

Giants' depth chart: Offense

May, 15, 2014
May 15
A look at where I think things stand with the offensive side of the New York Giants' depth chart following free agency and the draft.

Eli Manning
Curtis Painter
Ryan Nassib
Josh Freeman

Obviously, there's no threat to the top spot. But Manning's recovery from April ankle surgery could offer spring and summer opportunities for Nassib or Freeman to win the No. 2 spot from Painter.

Running back
Rashad Jennings
David Wilson
Andre Williams
Peyton Hillis
Michael Cox

Wilson is the wild-card in the mix. He may not be cleared to play at all following neck surgery, though the Giants say they believe he will. If he's not, Jennings should get a lot of carries as long as he can stay healthy and help protect Manning in the passing game.

"X" Wide receiver
Odell Beckham Jr.
Rueben Randle
Mario Manningham
Trindon Holliday

Beckham was drafted with this role in mind -- to play the split end receiver position because they believe he can get separation from defenders and beat man coverage with his speed. If he can't win a starter's job in camp, they'll need to go with one of those other options, neither of which is ideal for the role.

"Z" wide receiver
Rueben Randle
Mario Manningham
Julian Talley

If they only have two receivers on the field, slot man Victor Cruz is likely to be one of them. But when they go three-wide, Randle is likely to get a chance to show he's developing into a threat on the outside. Manningham remains a question mark due to the health of his knee.

Slot wide receiver
Victor Cruz
Jerrel Jernigan

Cruz is paid as a top slot receiver, and after drafting Beckham the Giants admitted they'd like to keep him inside as much as possible. If the new offense is anything like what new coordinator Ben McAdoo was helping run in Green Bay, it could be tailor-made for Cruz as a playmaker with the ball in his hands.

Tight end
Adrien Robinson
Kellen Davis
Larry Donnell
Daniel Fells
Xavier Grimble

Robinson enters his third year, and as of now this opportunity is his if he wants it and can stay healthy. Grimble's signing as an undrafted free agent is expected but has yet to be announced by the team. Donnell is a special teamer who has impressed with his work ethic and could get a shot if other options falter.

Henry Hynoski
John Conner

If Hynoski is back all the way healthy, I think he has the edge here as a more nimble run-blocker in McAdoo's system.

Left tackle
Will Beatty
Charles Brown

If Beatty's recovery from his Week 17 leg fracture is slow, there's a chance the Giants could move second-year right tackle Justin Pugh to this side.

Left guard
Geoff Schwartz
John Jerry
James Brewer
Brandon Mosley
Eric Herman

Schwartz was signed as a free agent to start here. If he gets hurt, their hope is that Jerry isn't already working on the other side and can step in ahead of the younger guys.

Weston Richburg
J.D. Walton
Dallas Reynolds

Walton still likely ranks higher on the Giants' real depth chart than second-rounder Richburg, but I'm predicting the rookie wins the starting job. He sounds like the guy they want to handle center responsibilities, which will expand under McAdoo.

Right guard
Chris Snee
John Jerry
James Brewer
Brandon Mosley
Eric Herman

The Giants and Snee are optimistic about his recovery from his second hip surgery in as many years, but he could wear down quickly in camp and elevate Jerry to a starting role. That would damage the Giants' depth on the line, which was a massive problem in 2013.

Right tackle
Justin Pugh
Charles Brown

There remains a chance that Pugh could ultimately be asked to switch sides or move inside to play guard. But they liked what he gave them as a 16-game starter at right tackle as a rookie, and right now they will leave him there.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A couple of weeks ago, we went over the reasons why New York Giants GM Jerry Reese didn't feel it was important to get a tight end in this year's draft. The popular perception that the Giants' offense has relied on its tight end as a pass-catcher during the Tom Coughlin/Eli Manning era simply isn't supported by facts. And while the list of tight ends currently on the roster isn't inspiring, the Giants are of the belief that someone will emerge who can catch the 42 passes a year their top tight end usually catches.

So no, they didn't take a tight end in the early rounds of this year's draft. And they didn't take one in the later rounds. And even if they had taken one in the later rounds, it wouldn't have addressed the perceived problem, because whoever they drafted wouldn't have been more qualified to start than, for example, Adrien Robinson, who was a fourth-round pick in 2012 and hasn't really seen the field yet. Why would a tight end drafted Saturday be better qualified to play than Robinson, a former mid-round pick who's been in the NFL and the Giants' building for two years already?

"We weren't going to force any players or overvalue anybody just because people may think we need a tight end," Giants VP of player evaluation Marc Ross said. "That's just not the way we operate."

Which isn't to say that everyone in the building feels great about the tight end situation. Giants coach Tom Coughlin echoed the sentiment that there weren't any tight ends worth taking at the spots where the Giants were picking. But he also acknowledged that he's not fully comfortable with the options on the current roster.

"Yeah, it's a concern," Coughlin said. "It's a concern in a lot of ways. But as has been said, we've got a couple of young guys here that ... Fellas, if you can't see your way to the field now..."

He's talking about Robinson, whose opportunity has never been better, and to a lesser extent Larry Donnell, who distinguished himself as a special-teamer in 2013 and could earn more opportunity as a result. The other two tight ends already on the roster were Daniel Fells and Kellen Davis, and reports Saturday night indicated that they'd added undrafted free agent Xavier Grimble from USC.

From that group, anyone could emerge. The Giants also could still add someone. Familiar names such as Dustin Keller and Jermichael Finley remain on the market, but they remain there due to medical concerns that might not be resolved to the Giants' or any other teams' satisfaction. If the Giants had their preference, Robinson would make a big leap this offseason and cash in on the promise they saw in him when they picked him in the fourth round two years ago.

"Adrien is very sharp and is able to count," Coughlin said. "He's on the field with four guys. And he's handled everything very well to this point. Very well."

The Giants will keep tinkering to make sure they get tight end right, as they will continue to do with every position on their roster. But they're not about to do anything drastic here. They just don't think it's as big a problem as a lot of people outside their building seem to think it is.
The awkward part of New York Giants GM Jerry Reese's pre-draft news conference Thursday came when a reporter asked him about tight end. The exchange went like this:
Q: Historically, this team has relied on the tight end quite a bit. Would you be comfortable moving forward with the guys you have on your roster right now?

Reese: Historically we've relied on our tight end?

Q: Well, they've had a prominent role.

Reese: Really?

Q: I seem to remember tight ends catching important passes.

Reese: Yeah, well, we think we've got some tight ends that can catch some important passes. But "prominent role"? We want all of our positions to be prominent roles. I'm not sure if our tight ends have had prominent roles in the past. But we want a competent tight end. We think we've got a couple of young tight ends who have been here for a couple of years who we want to develop, and we'll continue to look as we move forward.
[+] EnlargeBrandon Myers
Brad Penner/USA TODAY SportsIn his one season with the Giants, Brandon Myers caught 47 passes for 522 yards.
I have been on the other end of that exchange in the past. I've been the one who asked Reese a question that posited a certain level of significance for the tight end position and had him reject the premise. Obviously, this does not show Reese at his most polite, but he views this idea that the Giants' offense has relied on a tight end as an especially irksome misperception. And the numbers support his side of it:

  • Brandon Myers' 47 receptions in 2013 were the second-most in a single season by a Giants tight end since Jeremy Shockey caught 57 passes in 2007.
  • Since 2007, the Giants have employed four different starting tight ends -- Kevin Boss from 2008-10, Jake Ballard in 2011, Martellus Bennett in 2012 and Myers last year.
  • Over that six-year stretch, the Giants' leading tight end has averaged 42 receptions for 539 yards and five touchdowns per year, with Bennett's 55 catches and 626 yards in 2012 and Boss' six touchdowns in 2008 the high-water marks in those categories.

Reese is not shy about telling people he thinks he can find a tight end who can catch 42 passes every year, and this is the basis on which he rejects a characterization such as "prominent role." Yes, he could be nicer about making the point, but the Giants' offense has not, in point of fact, relied on the tight end. Shockey was an exceptional case -- an exceptional talent the Giants deemed worthy of a first-round pick. And Bennett's athleticism allowed them to use him a bit more than they've used other guys after they were able to get him on the cheap prior to the 2012 season.

But the thing to remember about Bennett and Shockey is that both were excellent and willing blockers at the position. Bennett's as good a run-blocking tight end as there is in the NFL right now, and the Giants had him on the field a lot for that reason. That his size and speed enabled him to be a slightly bigger factor in the passing game than some of his predecessors were was a bonus, and the Giants were fortunate that he wasn't in demand that year due to the perception that he was a huge disappointment in Dallas. Once he played well for them, he parlayed that into a big free-agent deal with the Bears, and the Giants made no effort to spend to keep him.

So the point to be taken from this is not that the Giants don't like the tight end position but that it's not a position on which they feel compelled to spend major resources. Other than that 2002 first-round pick they spent on Shockey, they've consistently sought cheap solutions at tight end, viewing whoever plays it as replaceable from year to year. They want guys who can block, and if those guys can catch the ball, so much the better.

For that reason, it's easy to convince yourself that they won't be taking North Carolina's Eric Ebron with the No. 12 pick in the first round next week. Ebron may be an exceptional talent as a receiver, and the tight end position leaguewide may have evolved to the point where it's worth spending a No. 12 overall pick to get one who can be a difference-maker in the passing game. But Reese insisted Thursday that the arrival of new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo has not changed the way the Giants evaluate offensive players. And while Shockey was the No. 14 overall pick in that 2002 draft, it's vital to remember that Shockey was a good blocker in addition to a great pass-catcher. Ebron is a pass-catcher only. He'd be a liability as a blocker. So the comparison doesn't necessarily fit.

The Giants could find a tight end such as Jace Amaro or Austin Seferian-Jenkins in the second round if they really feel they need one, but it's possible they don't feel that way. They have 2012 fourth-round pick Adrien Robinson still on the roster and have been eager for some time to see him on the field more. They resisted putting Robinson on injured reserve all last year because they believed he had something to offer if he ever got healthy (which he finally did, only to injure himself again on the opening kickoff of the Week 16 game in Detroit). They signed blocking tight end Kellen Davis and Daniel Fells for depth at the position, and Larry Donnell has been a strong enough special-teams performer to earn more practice reps and show what he can do. That's the group Reese has, and he swears he doesn't feel the need to upgrade it in the draft. If their pick comes around and the best player still on their board plays tight end, sure, they could take him. But Reese isn't hunting for some huge solution at the position next week.

The question is whether he's right. I personally think the Giants would benefit from having a more permanent solution at this position than they've employed over the past four years. I think the way the league is going, it's more important than it used to be to have a big-time weapon at that position who can split out wide and bust matchups in the secondary. But I don't run the Giants. Jerry Reese does. And he and the Giants do things their way, and they believe in it. You can respect someone's conviction even if your opinion differs from theirs. Reese thinks he's OK at tight end -- or at least that he will be. And it's clear when he's asked about it that he doesn't understand what all the fuss is about.
A 7-9 record in 2013 earned the New York Giants the No. 12 pick in next month's NFL draft. After an offseason that has seen them sign 15 outside free agents, they still have needs at tight end, wide receiver and on the offensive line, one of which could reasonably be addressed with that pick. It also wouldn't be out of character to see them add a defensive lineman if that's who they felt the best player was at No. 12.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's latest mock draft is up today here on It's two rounds long this time, and you have to have Insider access to read it. His picks for the Giants are aimed at finding some help for quarterback Eli Manning.

Giants add TE Kellen Davis

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4
The New York Giants' 24th free-agent signing of the offseason is, at long last, a tight end -- former Chicago Bears and Seattle Seahawks tight end Kellen Davis, to be exact. Davis is a blocking tight end (he has 50 total receptions in five NFL seasons), so to answer your first question he does not eliminate Eric Ebron as a first-round draft target next month. But he does give the Giants someone at the position with some NFL experience -- a body in camp, if nothing else, at a position where they have very little.

And you'll never guess how old he is! That's right -- 28 years old, right in the Giants' free-agent wheelhouse. It's as though non-28-year-olds need not apply.

Davis played the first four years of his career for the Bears and then spent 2013 with the eventual Super Bowl champion Seahawks, though he was a non-factor in Seattle. He had three catches all year and was not active in the Super Bowl.

He joins Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells as the tight ends on the Giants' roster. The Giants have patched the position together with one-year stopgaps for several years now, and if they don't address the position with a draft pick, it's possible they could elect to do so again with one or more from that group.

Davis is the 14th free agent the Giants have signed from outside the organization, the highest number of any team in the league so far this offseason.
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Brian Orakpo hoping for a miracle

December, 27, 2013
ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo understands it would take a lot for him to play. He's also not ready to say he won't be able to play in the season finale against the New York Giants.

Orakpo was limited in practice Friday after doing nothing the first two practices this week. He's listed as questionable and said he'll test himself before the game Sunday to see if he can play.

"I'll be packing my bag and if something miraculous happens and I'm able to go, I'm going to play," Orakpo said.

But he back tracked a little after saying it would take a miracle.

"I wouldn't say a long shot, but I have to be realistic with the situation," he said. "If it's not where I want it to be and not healthy then I'm not going to play. But if it is, I'm going to be out there with my teammates for the last game."

It's not as if this game matters in the standings for the 3-12 Redskins, and all the questions surrounding them center on the fate of the coaching staff. Orakpo also is a free agent after the season. But he said those won't be deciding factors.

"That's not me, that's not my M.O.," Orakpo said. "I'm in treatment every day, just trying to get better. If I'm able to play I'll play, regardless if this game doesn't matter."

For New York, receiver Victor Cruz (knee), guard Brandon Mosley (hand), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (shoulder) and tight end Adrien Robinson (knee) are out.