NFC East: Marvin Austin

Quick change for Everett Dawkins

November, 7, 2013
11/07/13
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IRVING, Texas -- Last week defensive tackle Everett Dawkins was them. Wednesday was different.

Last week he was on the Minnesota Vikings' practice squad helping them get ready to play the Dallas Cowboys. On Wednesday, he was a Cowboy.

"It was a good win for us," Dawkins said of the 27-23 outcome.

The Cowboys signed Dawkins off the Vikings' practice squad after waiving defensive tackle Marvin Austin. There's a strong possibility he plays on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints, just the way Drake Nevis, Jarius Wynn and Austin played in their first week with the Cowboys.

"I played in the preseason, but I didn't play on a Sunday yet," Dawkins said. "That's something I've always wanted to do, so it's a great feeling."

The Vikings picked Dawkins in the seventh round. The Cowboys had a third-round grade on him.

"Somebody sent me a text message of the picture," Dawkins said. "I guess it was on the internet."

Dawkins was glad to be in Dallas for another reason: It snowed in Minneapolis on Tuesday.

"It's just crazy, but that's how the NFL works though," Dawkins said. "I just have to make sure I take advantage of everything to my full potential and just go and show I'm not one of the guys that's leaving."

Cowboys make roster moves

November, 6, 2013
11/06/13
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IRVING, Texas -- Needing defensive tackle depth after waiving Marvin Austin on Monday, the Dallas Cowboys signed Everett Dawkins off the Minnesota Vikings' practice squad.

Dawkins, 6-2, 292 pounds, was a seventh-round pick of the Vikings last April and had been on the practice squad for the season. He had five tackles and a half sack in the preseason. He started 41 of 57 games at Florida State.

He is the second player the Cowboys have poached from a practice squad this season. The Cowboys had cornerback Chris Greenwood on the roster for three games before he was released.

The Cowboys also filled their two practice-squad openings by signing guard Phillipkeith Manley and defensive linemen Hall Davis. Manley, 6-5, 309 pounds, spent parts of the past two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons. Davis was a fifth round pick of the St. Louis Rams in 2010 and has bounced around with four other teams.
IRVING, Texas -- The Dallas Cowboys' defensive line shuffle continued on Monday when the team agreed to a deal with Everette Brown.

Brown, a former second-round pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2009, worked out for the Cowboys on Monday, as did defensive end Adrian Tracy.

It is the third straight week the Cowboys have signed a free-agent defensive linemen. Jarius Wynn was signed on Oct. 15 and Marvin Austin was signed on Oct. 21.

Brown has not played in a regular-season game since 2011 when he was with the San Diego Chargers. He spent time with the Detroit Lions (2012) and Philadelphia Eagles (2013). He had six sacks for the Panthers in 2009-10.

Before the deal can become official, the Cowboys have to release a player from the 53-man roster.

The Cowboys re-signed guard David Arkin to the practice squad after he was released over the weekend to make room for safety Jakar Hamilton. Arkin, a fourth-round pick in 2011, did not take an offensive snap in parts of three seasons.

“There's probably nobody on our football team who works harder and is more committed than David Arkin,” coach Jason Garrett said. “He’s the right kind of guy and he's working at it and he's getting better. I think he has improved over the last couple of years and that's why we're happy to get him back and put him back on the practice roster and continue that development.”

New York Giants cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2013
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Most significant move: It was 2011 second-round draft pick Marvin Austin who was the odd man out of the numbers game at defensive tackle when the New York Giants announced their final roster cuts Saturday night. Austin was beaten out for a roster spot by former Eagle Mike Patterson, whose final two years in Philadelphia were negatively impacted by a brain condition for which he underwent surgery. Patterson and veteran Shaun Rogers were impressive in camp and will join a deep defensive tackle rotation along with starters Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins as well as 2013 second-rounder Johnathan Hankins. The reason the move is possibly significant is that this was the position from which the Giants were most likely to cut someone who could be of use to another team. If I'm the Dallas Cowboys, who are banged-up and shorthanded on the defensive line and play the Giants eight days from right now I'm looking into Austin if only for some intel on the enemy. Austin showed potential, but early-career injury issues held back his development, and he didn't perform well enough this offseason to earn a place on the team.

Shorthanded September?: Obviously, there are always more moves to come in the next few days as the Giants sort through the waiver process and see which players who just became available today could be of use to them. One spot where the Giants likely will look to beef up is at running back. They terminated the contract of Ryan Torain, leaving them with four running backs on the roster -- starter David Wilson, backups Michael Cox and Da'Rel Scott and "co-starter" Andre Brown, who's likely out four to six weeks with a fracture in his left leg. Keeping Brown indicates that the Giants do indeed expect him back at some point during the season, but it also leaves them with only three healthy backs to start the season. It's possible they could put Brown on injured reserve with a designation to return this season, but they can't do that until Tuesday. If they did, they could add a running back (or a player at some other position). Brown is one of at least seven players (along with Victor Cruz, Henry Hynoski, David Baas, David Diehl, Jason Pierre-Paul and Damontre Moore) whose status for the early part of the season is in doubt or worse due to injury, so there may not be a lot of wiggle room in picking inactives for the opener.

What's next: Based on performance, the release of Tyler Sash isn't overly surprising, but it does leave the Giants thin at the safety position and leads you to believe they'll try to acquire another safety at some point this week. The first name that will jump to mind is that of former Giant Kenny Phillips, who obviously knows the defense and was released by the Eagles last week. But don't assume they'll view Phillips as their best option. The main reason they let him go this offseason was their concern that he'd never be able to get his knee fully healthy, and the reason the Eagles (who aren't exactly strong at safety themselves) let him go was because he couldn't get healthy enough to practice. The Giants like what rookie Cooper Taylor has shown lately, and they like Will Hill as an option at safety, so they may decide they only need to weather the four games for which Hill is suspended to start the season. While Phillips is a possibility, there will be other choices, and likely a few the Giants like better.

Giants moves:

Waived: DE Matt Broha, OT Stephen Goodin, S David Caldwell, OL Matt McCants, CB Charles James, CB Terrence Frederick, WR Julian Talley, LB Kyle Bosworth, DE Adrian Tracy, DE Adewale Ojomo, DT Marvin Austin, OL Eric Herman, OL Bryant Browning, WR Kevin Hardy, WR Marcus Harris

Contracts terminated: QB David Carr, RB Ryan Torain

Waived/injured: S Tyler Sash, OL Selvish Capers

Reserve/physically unable to perform list: DT Markus Kuhn (knee)

Injured reserve: WR Ramses Barden (knee)

Suspended: S Will Hill

Welcome to cut-down day

August, 31, 2013
8/31/13
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Ah, yes. That gloriously inexplicable day for fans to obsess over players who are either not good enough or barely good enough to make their team. NFL teams must trim their rosters from 75 to 53 by 6 p.m. ET, and I shall, of course, be here to track all of the New York Giants' moves. The agent for defensive end Matt Broha, for instance, has already tweeted that Broha will be hitting the waiver wire. Possible practice squad candidate if he gets through waivers, but certainly not a surprise cut.

Brown
The interesting story of the day to me is what the Giants do with regard to running back Andre Brown, who fractured his left leg in Thursday night's preseason game in New England. The early timetable for Brown's recovery is four to six weeks, which would seem to indicate they could keep him on the 53-man roster and wait it out. But if they're concerned the recovery might last longer than that, they could place him on injured reserve.

Now, there are two types of injured reserve. The first is the season-ending type. If the Giants put Brown on IR today, he's out for the year, no questions asked. The other type is the injured reserve with a designation for return, which would allow Brown to return as long as he sits out at least six weeks of practice and at least eight weeks' worth of games. But teams can't use that designation until Tuesday, which means Brown would have to first make the 53-man roster today and then be designated Tuesday. At that time, the Giants could add a player, but they'd have to cut someone today to hold a spot for Brown. Also, teams may only use the IR/designated for return on one player per season, so if they used it on Brown and someone else suffered a six-week or eight-week injury in September, they would face a tough decision on that player.

Other key decisions loom at backup quarterback, where Curtis Painter and David Carr have fought it out for one spot, and at defensive tackle, where the team may be debating whether to give up on 2011 second-round pick Marvin Austin in favor of impressive veteran Mike Patterson.

As I said, I'll keep you posted throughout the day.

 
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. –- The New York Giants suffered yet another significant preseason injury Thursday, as running back Andre Brown broke his left leg during the Giants' 28-20 loss to the New England Patriots.

What it means: One week after losing safety Stevie Brown for the season to a torn ACL in a preseason game, Andre Brown breaks his left leg. It’s the same leg on which Andre fractured his fibula against the Packers on Nov. 25 last year. The Giants said Andre could have returned that season if they made it to the Super Bowl, so he could be a candidate for the injured reserve/"designated to return" spot that would allow him to come back after eight weeks.

Andre Brown’s injury is a blow to the running game. Coach Tom Coughlin wanted a one-two punch with David Wilson and Brown, who is the Giants’ most well-rounded running back. Brown could run with power and speed and catch out of the backfield and was the team’s best pass-protecting back. The team will now have to depend on and trust Wilson even more. Seventh-round pick Michael Cox might move up to the backup spot. Ryan Torain’s and Da’Rel Scott’s chances of making the team have increased with Saturday’s final cuts looming.

The Giants could also always look outside and see what is available, especially after teams make final cuts on Saturday.

More injuries: Brown wasn’t the only Giant to suffer an injury. Backup safety Tyler Sash suffered a concussion, and the Giants were already smarting there with the loss of Stevie Brown for the year. With Will Hill having to serve a four-game suspension to start the regular season, the Giants can’t afford to lose Sash for an extended amount of time. Rookie Cooper Taylor will be behind starters Antrel Rolle and Ryan Mundy if Sash has to miss time.

Also, tight end Adrien Robinson suffered an injury to what appeared to be his left foot. The severity of the injury wasn’t immediately known. Already this preseason, the Giants have watched starters such as Victor Cruz (heel), David Baas (left MCL), David Diehl (thumb) and the two Browns suffer injuries in preseason games.

Offense awakens: On a very small side note, the starting offense finished the preseason strong by scoring a touchdown in the red zone. After struggling in the preseason inside the opponent’s 20, Eli Manning orchestrated a 10-play, 91-yard drive that resulted in a 3-yard touchdown strike to Hakeem Nicks.

Manning opened the drive with a 37-yard completion to Louis Murphy. Manning also hit tight end Brandon Myers on a 10-yard gain, and Wilson had a 16-yard run as well on the drive.

One more time: Several Giants tried to make a final impression in the last preseason game. Defensive tackle Mike Patterson looked good, applying pressure to the quarterback several times and getting a sack and a half. Patterson might have solidified a roster spot with that performance. Marvin Austin, a second-round pick in 2011, might be fighting for a roster spot.

Middle linebacker Mark Herzlich also had a strong outing, snatching an interception off a deflection right before it hit the turf. Defensive ends Matt Broha, Justin Trattou and Adewale Ojomo all had sacks on Tim Tebow as well.

What’s next: The Giants will make final cuts on Saturday and play in Dallas in the season opener on Sept. 8.

Observation deck: Colts-Giants

August, 18, 2013
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For the benefit of those who are new around here, I'll restate this: I simply will not overreact to preseason NFL games. If you, as a fan, want to do that, that's fine with me. But don't come here expecting me to join in. So if you want me to tell you to be worried that the New York Giants had trouble scoring in the red zone in Sunday night's 20-12 "loss" to the Indianapolis Colts, or that they struggled to cover receivers, or that Eli Manning didn't look sharp, too bad. You're going to have to go get that somewhere else. History clearly shows us that preseason games offer no predictive value whatsoever. Teams aren't game-planning for each other this time of year, and the fact that one team's offense/defense was effective/ineffective against another's on Aug. 18 is simply immaterial. How bad the Giants looked Sunday night means no more than how bad the Cowboys looked Saturday or how good the Eagles looked Thursday. It's the wrong place to focus.

So what we do here when we break down preseason games is highlight some individual performances or personnel patterns that might turn out to be noteworthy or significant. And, of course, we discuss injuries, which is where we will start Sunday night.
  • Wide receiver Victor Cruz and center David Baas both left the game during the first offensive series for X-rays, which turned out to be negative. The Giants say Baas has a knee sprain and Cruz has a heel bruise. Both are likely to get more tests, Baas especially. And while the news on Cruz obviously could have been worse, it's worth watching to see whether this is something that limits him this week in practice.
  • "He runs to make his living, and, obviously, he's got an issue with his heel," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of Cruz. "Hopefully, it's not going to be a long thing. They're going to continue to do some tests on him."
  • Justin Tuck also left the game with a hamstring injury. Prior to that, I personally thought Tuck looked great. I'd singled him out prior to the game as someone I was going to watch, and in the first quarter he looked quick and energized as he hassled Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and batted down a pass. An energized Tuck would be a tremendous positive for the Giants this season, provided, of course, that energy comes with fully healthy hamstrings.
  • David Wilson is a lot of fun to watch run. He broke a 21-yarder and threw in a 16-yard reception on which he almost impossibly avoided falling to the ground along the sideline. But unless I missed one, there wasn't a single third down during his part of the game on which he wasn't replaced by Andre Brown. We know how important pass protection is going to be when evaluating these running backs and assigning them carries, and it seems clear that the Giants trust Brown more in pass protection right now than they trust Wilson. Brown looked good picking up blitzing safety Antoine Bethea on a third-down play in the second quarter that resulted in an 11-yard pass to Rueben Randle. Can that change before the season starts? Sure, and certainly before it ends. But a Wilson/Brown backfield committee looks like the plan right now. Brown had 36 yards on eight carries and caught one pass. Wilson had 34 yards on eight carries and caught two passes. Wilson did not return any kickoffs.
  • Michael Cox looks like a keeper, and not just because he looks like a non-Wilson option on kick returns. Cox had just two carries for four yards but also had two long receptions out of the backfield -- one for 20 yards and another for 28. "He's got a lot of fight," Coughlin said. "He breaks tackles, and he's very persistent in what he does. And he does the same thing on special teams, so he's making good progress." Cox is obviously ahead of Da'Rel Scott, who did not play in the game, in pursuit of a roster spot. And it's possible he could pass Ryan Torain on the depth chart as well, though Torain went into the game before he did and shows a lot as a blocker.
  • Right tackle David Diehl got beaten badly on a couple of plays, one of which resulted in an Erik Walden sack of Manning. But the Giants seem committed to playing him at right tackle over first-round rookie Justin Pugh, who's being brought along slowly. The offensive line is tough to judge because right guard Chris Snee barely played (he's still recovering from offseason hip surgery) and Baas went out early.
  • Lots of moving the linebackers in and out. Tough to pick out anything that either Mark Herzlich or Dan Connor did to separate himself in the middle linebacker competition. Jacquian Williams showed excellent speed and quickness in short-range coverage on a third-down pass attempt by Matt Hasselbeck to Robert Hughes in the third quarter. Williams is likely the Giants' best coverage linebacker and as such was used mainly on passing downs.
  • Justin Trattou had a sack on which he got help from Marvin Austin and Adewale Ojomo in collapsing the pocket. It was a decent night for the Giants' backup defensive ends in terms of creating pressure, even though they got only one sack. As for the defensive tackles, Austin looked fine on that one play but, in general, doesn't show much power at the point of attack. Second-round pick Johnathan Hankins looks like he could stand to get stronger as well.
  • Coughlin said last week that David Carr would play this game and Curtis Painter would play Saturday's game against the Jets. With fourth-rounder Ryan Nassib sure to make the team as the No. 3 quarterback, Carr and Painter are competing for the No. 2 job. Carr was just meh -- seven for 11, 57 yards -- and he got sacked three times. I guess if Painter looks great, he could win the job. But the Giants know and like Carr, so it's no sure thing.
  • And, finally, on the Reggie Wayne touchdown catch that first bounced off the hands of cornerback Aaron Ross: Ross said the lights blinded him and he lost the ball. He said he usually wears eye black or special contact lenses that help with that, but for some reason he wasn't wearing them Sunday. "Just one of those freak plays that thankfully doesn't count," Ross said. "I knew he was behind me, so as soon as I hit it, I looked back and … it was bad."

Preseason, though, Aaron. Just preseason. As Ross pointed out, it didn't count. None of it. And while Coughlin was annoyed about the performance, that's his job -- to keep giving these guys things to work on in the final three weeks before the start of the regular season.

Best Giants camp battles

July, 31, 2013
7/31/13
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Tom Coughlin says he has never had a training camp competition as wide open as the one he currently has at linebacker.

Linebacker is just one of the positions where there will be competition. Here's a look at the best camp battles for the New York Giants:

1. Linebackers.

The competitors: MLB Mark Herzlich, OLB Keith Rivers, OLB Spencer Paysinger, OLB Jacquian Williams, MLB Dan Connor, OLB Aaron Curry, LB Kyle Bosworth, MLB Jake Muasau, LB Etienne Sabino.

The 411: Herzlich, Rivers and Paysinger are the starters so far in camp. Williams, Connor and Curry make up the second team. Herzlich and Connor are competing to replace Chase Blackburn, and it appears like it's Herzlich's job to lose thus far. Paysinger definitely has a chance to hold on to a starting spot. If Rivers can stay healthy, he can do some of the things Michael Boley did. When healthy, Williams can be a three-down linebacker, and his speed and athleticism allows him to cover tight ends. Curry is a wild card.

What they're saying: "They told us nothing is set in stone, everybody has to work," Paysinger said of the coaches' message. "They say that when it comes to the depth chart, it can change any day, that we dictate how the depth chart goes. If one person has a great day, he might be going with the ones, if a person slips up a little bit, he might be going with the twos and threes."

2. Right tackle.

The competitors: David Diehl, Justin Pugh, James Brewer.

The 411: Diehl is the front-runner because of his experience and is the starter right now. Pugh was drafted for a reason with the team's first-round pick. Jerry Reese said there was initial concern about Pugh's arm length for the tackle position. However, the Giants will see what Pugh can do at right tackle with the second team. Brewer has been getting first-team reps at right guard while Chris Snee makes his way back from offseason hip surgery, but Coughlin says Brewer is in the mix.

What they're saying: "David Diehl is a highly motivated guy in the first place, and competition always brings out the best," Coughlin said.

3. Backup defensive tackle.

The competitors: Shaun Rogers, Johnathan Hankins, Mike Patterson, Marvin Austin, Markus Kuhn, Frank Okam.

The 411: The Giants loaded up at defensive tackle in an effort to stop the run this season. Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins will start at defensive tackle. There will be stiff competition for the spots behind the starters. When motivated and healthy, Rogers is a load. He and Hankins, the team's second-round pick, have been working with the second team. Patterson and Austin have received third-team snaps. Austin, the team's second-round pick in 2011, is going to have to fight for a roster spot. Kuhn, who impressed the coaches last season, is on the PUP list.

What they're saying: "He's been healthy for the first time," defensive line coach Robert Nunn said about Austin. "He's where he needs to be right now. He just can't disappear when the pads come on."

4. Fourth defensive end.

The competitors: Adrian Tracy, Damontre Moore, Justin Trattou, Matt Broha, Adewale Ojomo.

The 411: With Osi Umenyiora gone, the Giants need a fourth pass-rusher to emerge to play behind -- and sometimes alongside -- Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka. Tracy is the leading candidate for the fourth end spot, but Moore, the team's third-round pick, has impressed early. Until JPP is healthy, both Tracy and Moore could see snaps as the third and fourth ends.

What they're saying: "We've got some young guys that have to show up," Nunn said. "They look good when they're running around with no pads on, but you still see some things that get you excited."

5. Running back.

The competitors: David Wilson and Andre Brown.

The 411: Wilson and Brown technically are competing for the starting spot. But Wilson is the starter in camp and should be the starter for the season. Still, the two running backs likely could share carries, with the hot hand getting the majority of the carries in any given game. Brown is expected to resume his role as goal-line back as well.

What they're saying: "David is a different style of back than we've ever really had here at the Giants over the years," quarterback Eli Manning said. "A lot of speed and explosiveness. Both of them [Wilson and Brown] are different style runners, and we'll kind of understand that and put them in to do things that they are best at."

Eight in the Box: Under the radar

April, 5, 2013
4/05/13
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NFC Eight in the Box: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

A look at the top under-the-radar move made by each NFC East team thus far this offseason:

Dallas Cowboys: Cutting safety Gerald Sensabaugh.

This move was significant in a couple of ways. Its most immediate impact was that it created enough salary-cap room to allow the Cowboys, later that same day, to designate defensive end Anthony Spencer as their franchise player for the second year in a row. Spencer still stands as the team's most significant "free-agent acquisition," and franchising him left the Cowboys with very little room under the cap for the ensuing few weeks. Although it helped the Cowboys cross starting defensive end off of their offseason shopping list, it left safety as a position of some concern. The projected starters right now are Barry Church, who's coming off injury, and Matt Johnson, a second-year man who didn't play at all as a rookie. They signed veteran Will Allen for depth, but it's a position they might have to address early in the draft as well.

New York Giants: Signing defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins.

Jenkins was part of the colossal disappointment that was the past two seasons in Philadelphia, but he's a veteran with something left who should make a contribution in New York in a few ways. He has experience at defensive end as well as tackle, so he'll fit in when the Giants decide to use those packages that load up the line with pass-rushers. The Giants like to lean on high-character veterans to help develop young players, and Jenkins can fill that role for someone like Marvin Austin. And with the way the Giants rotate linemen, they should be able to keep Jenkins fresh. After cutting Chris Canty, the Giants needed to add depth on the defensive line, and Jenkins was a smart pickup after the Eagles cut him just before free agency opened.

Philadelphia Eagles: Trading for wide receiver Arrelious Benn.

I have no idea whether Benn will make an impact for the Eagles as a wide receiver. Injury problems his first three years in the league led Tampa Bay to give up on him and deal him to the Eagles for basically nothing. And he's behind starters DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, among others, on the depth chart. But he's also just 24 years old and was a second-round draft pick only three years ago, so there is some untapped potential there. If he can get on the field in the offense, he's got enough size to offer something the Eagles' starting wideouts don't. Regardless, the move was significant as part of a clear mission by new coach Chip Kelly and GM Howie Roseman to improve the Eagles' disappointing special-teams units. Benn has experience as a return man and in kick coverage, and should help there right away. Along with the signing of linebacker Jason Phillips and punter Donnie Jones, and the re-signing of Colt Anderson, Benn is part of a special-teams overhaul.

Washington Redskins: Re-signing fullback Darrel Young

Except on the rare occasions when he catches a pass or powers into the end zone for a short touchdown, Young doesn't get noticed much, but he's a critical part of a Redskins running game that ranked No. 1 in the league in 2012. That run game is likely to be even more important than it was last season while starting quarterback Robert Griffin III recovers from offseason knee surgery, and the Redskins' ability to retain Young and keep their offensive line intact will benefit tailback Alfred Morris greatly in his second season.
David Wilson and Jacquian WilliamsUSA TODAY SportsThe Giants hope players like David Wilson, left, and Jacquian Williams are ready for starting roles.
New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese has a reputation as a shrewd handler of the NFL draft. We are about to find out whether he deserves it.

Reese himself would tell you that the Giants look at the draft in a very specific way. They do not view it as an annual opportunity to make big-splash, instant-impact additions to the following season's team. The Giants use the draft as a means of crafting and maintaining a deep roster that can regenerate itself with players who have spent time developing in their system.

The cuts this week of championship mainstays Ahmad Bradshaw, Michael Boley and Chris Canty signal a time of such regeneration. The Giants make these moves -- and likely more cuts to come -- with the hope that the replacements for these players are already in their locker room. The extent to which that turns out to be the case will help determine just how good Reese's past few drafts have been.

The likely replacements for Bradshaw are David Wilson (first round, 2012) and Andre Brown (fourth round, 2009). Assuming they re-sign Brown coming off his broken leg, they'll find out whether that tandem can effect a smooth transition from the Bradshaw/Brandon Jacobs era at running back. Brown is a guy to whom they kept giving chances until he blossomed as a power runner in 2012. Wilson is the guy they said was at the top of their running back board in last year's draft. Were they telling the truth? Or did Tampa Bay outfox them by trading up to steal Doug Martin one pick earlier? It appears as though Wilson will get a good chance in 2013 to show whether he was indeed the right man for the Giants job.

Canty is a tough loss in the middle of the defensive line. And while Linval Joseph (second round, 2010) has already proved himself a reliable starter at defensive tackle, the Giants will hope this is the year that Marvin Austin (second round, 2011) blossoms into the interior pass-rusher they envisioned when they drafted him off his suspension season at North Carolina. That Austin pick has a chance to look really good if the young man rebounds from the two years in which he didn't see the field, but if he doesn't, the Giants will need to find more depth at that position.

Boley's most likely replacement at outside linebacker is Jacquian Williams (sixth round, 2011), who was a big help during the the most recent Super Bowl run and now likely gets a chance to show what he can do as an NFL starter. The Giants don't place a very high priority on the linebacker position, and if Williams blossoms as a starter out of the sixth round, he'll make that particular part of their strategy look pretty good.

There are other spots at which change is or could be coming. The Giants are almost certain to bid farewell, for instance, to defensive end Osi Umenyiora. And while Jason Pierre-Paul (first round, 2010) might already have taken Umenyiora's starting job, the Giants are eager to learn whether Pierre-Paul can be the relentless quarterback predator he was in 2011 and anchor their pass rush for years to come, or whether his more pedestrian 2012 season is what they should expect.

If they cut cornerback Corey Webster, is Prince Amukamara (first round, 2011) ready to cover the other team's No. 1 wide receiver on a regular basis? And is Jayron Hosley (third round, 2012) good enough to be a starter, or is he just a nickel corner? Can Rueben Randle (second round, 2012) and/or Jerrel Jernigan (third round, 2011) emerge as a playmaker and help make their wide receiver decisions on Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz less pressure-packed? Is tackle James Brewer (fourth round, 2011) ready to take his role as part of the offensive line rebuild?

Lots of questions with many potential answers for the Giants as they begin what appears to be an offseason makeover of some significance. This is the way they like to operate -- stocking their roster with talented young players they like, and working to help them be ready when opportunity arrives. It's why they believe in continuity on the coaching staff, and why they believe they can spend to the cap each year without having to pound the free-agent market too hard.

It is possible that the answers to the Giants' roster questions lie in the early and middle rounds of these past few drafts, and if they do, Reese's reputation as a master of the draft will be fortified by on-field results. If they do not, the Giants might find themselves in the uncomfortable position of having to alter their strategy and find some quick fixes for their holes next offseason. Reese and the Giants generally received high marks for the drafts they had in recent years. But with all of these veterans headed out of town, now's the time when we find out just how good those drafts really were.

Bradshaw, Canty latest Giants cuts

February, 6, 2013
2/06/13
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Today's cuts could not have been easy for the New York Giants, who are quite fond of running back Ahmad Bradshaw but apparently could not stomach the idea of paying him $3.75 million this year and $4 million in 2014 when his feet keep needing surgery. Per our man Adam Schefter, the Giants informed Bradshaw on Wednesday that he was being released.

Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger also reports that defensive tackle Chris Canty has been released. Canty was due $6.25 million this year and $6.5 million in 2014.

The Giants need cap money to attempt to re-sign several of their own free agents, including safety Kenny Phillips, offensive linemen Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe and, with Bradshaw gone, probably running back Andre Brown. There are other cuts on the horizon, with veteran offensive lineman David Diehl and cornerback Corey Webster remaining as possible cap casualties as the Giants undergo something of a roster overhaul at the start of this offseason. They cut linebacker Michael Boley on Tuesday.

I think Bradshaw finds work somewhere. He's still one of the most complete running backs in the league -- a power back with good vision who's as good at blitz pickup as anyone in the NFL. The concern is that his feet can't stay healthy, and his latest surgery is going to keep him out for the next couple of months. Look for someone to give him a shot come training camp. Canty can surely help someone as well, as be brings interior pass rush along with his run-stopping ability, but not for that kind of salary.

The Giants will hope to fill in with younger players they've been working on developing, with someone like Marvin Austin perhaps moving up to a larger role at defensive tackle. Second-year running back David Wilson, along with Brown, is likely to see an increased workload with Bradshaw gone, though you can expect the Giants to add at that position as well, since they believe it's important to have quality depth there.

Much more on this to come, obviously, as the Giants are slashing and appear on the cusp of a very interesting offseason.
Morning, and welcome to Tuesday of Week 2. That means Power Rankings, with plenty of changes likely in store at and near the top, later today. It also means our weekly chat and lots of other goodies. Let's get right to it, if you don't mind.

Dallas Cowboys

Calvin Watkins writes that the adjustments the Cowboys have made in the second year of Rob Ryan's tenure as defensive coordinator were key in beating the Giants. Specifically, they're working more out of their base 3-4, in part because they can trust their cornerbacks to cover receivers. Only one game, of course, but the Giants do have very good receivers.

Tony Romo answered a radio station's call in order to avoid changing a diaper, he joked on the air, then went on to discuss what it's been like to be a new father.

Washington Redskins

Mike Shanahan says rookie running back Alfred Morris is the Redskins' starter at the position, and while he's famous for changing his mind, Morris gave him no reason to do so just yet. Morris would likely have to get injured, or play poorly, in order to lose the spot anytime soon. Of course, Shanahan could see something in an upcoming matchup that he just believes fits Roy Helu or Evan Royster better. He likes all three guys.

Part of the reason the Redskins played more man coverage with their cornerbacks Sunday than they usually do is that they're so thin at safety with Tanard Jackson suspended and Brandon Meriweather injured. It got worse. Rookie safety Jordan Bernstine tore multiple knee ligaments in the game and is out for the year. The Redskins on Monday signed former Carolina safety Jordan Pugh to add depth at the position.

Philadelphia Eagles

Jeremy Maclin looked like Michael Vick's favorite target in Sunday's comeback victory over Cleveland. But Maclin, like Vick, has shown some difficulty staying healthy so far in his career. He has a hip pointer that could keep him out of this Sunday's home opener against Baltimore. Should that happen, you'd have to think they'd run LeSean McCoy more, right? Right????

Andy Reid says the Eagles would have mixed their run/pass calls better Sunday in Cleveland if they hadn't been called for holding on a couple of big runs. It's part of his mantra that the Eagles' biggest problem is their own mistakes -- specifically turnovers and penalties. This was also the problem last year, of course.

New York Giants

The Giants' battered cornerback corps could get a boost Sunday with the expected return of Prince Amukamara from a high-ankle sprain. And their banged-up defensive line could welcome defensive tackle Marvin Austin for what would be his first NFL game. Both would be welcome additions, Amukamara as a starter where they desperately need one and Austin as a backup at a position that demands in-game rotation for purposes of keeping the starters fresh.

Justin Tuck says the Giants are "disgusted" with the way they played in last Wednesday's loss to Dallas. This is a lot of time they have to sit on that disgust between games.

New York Giants cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
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Click here for the complete list of New York Giants' roster moves.


Most significant move: The Giants announced they have placed cornerback Terrell Thomas on injured reserve, and not the new, temporary kind. Thomas will miss his second consecutive season due to his inability to make a full recovery from last summer's knee surgery. It's an incredibly disappointing result for Thomas, who had hoped to be ready for the regular-season opener but suffered a setback in his recovery early in camp and now can hope to return to the field no sooner than 2013. He is not eligible to return after eight weeks per the new IR rule, because he is not a member of the 53-man roster that was submitted Friday night. The same is true of defensive tackle Shaun Rogers, who started camp strong but was shut down with a blood clot in his leg. He's also on full-season injured reserve. ... Defensive end Adewale Ojomo and safety Will Hill, both serious long shots entering camp, made the roster.

Onward and upward: Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com suggested early Friday that the Cowboys could have interest in wide receiver David Douglas if the Giants were to cut him. They did, and he looked to be a speedy and useful special-teams performer when he was on the field in preseason. He should draw interest, be it in Dallas or elsewhere. ... D.J. Ware is a running back with some NFL experience who theoretically could draw interest from another team in need of running back help. He lost his spot to Andre Brown, who had a better camp, and Da'Rel Scott, who's too important on special teams to cut.

What's next: Defensive tackle Marvin Austin, who's out with a back injury, made the roster but could be a candidate for that short-term IR designation. ... The Giants were said Friday to be looking for offensive line help. Even though left tackle Will Beatty now could be ready to play in Wednesday's season opener, they remain thin at tackle and on the line in general.

Observation deck: Giants-Jets

August, 18, 2012
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The good postgame news for the New York Giants following their 26-3 preseason victory over the Jets is that starting running back Ahmad Bradshaw's hand seems OK. The Giants took X-rays that came back negative, and Bradshaw told reporters after the game that he had a cyst on his hand that burst when he hit it on someone's helmet. I do not know why a cyst bursting would require an X-ray, but I am not a doctor. Upshot appears to be that Bradshaw will be fine, which is significant for a Giants team whose running game still needs work.

The Giants finished 32nd in the league in rush offense in the regular season last year, mainly because of a line that couldn't get any push forward in the run game. That was on display again Saturday night, as neither Bradshaw nor D.J. Ware nor Andre Brown nor David Wilson could find a hole all night. The Giants finished with 58 yards on 32 carries, which is dreadful. Now, rush defense appears to be one of the few things the Jets do well, so that might have had something to do with it. But the concern with the Giants when they struggle is that they get physically handled in the trenches. The offensive line struggled with that last year and has so far in this preseason.

Now, that intro breaks my general rule about trying to open with a positive in these preseason game reviews. But I thought Bradshaw was the biggest news of the night, and in fairness it is a positive that his hand is not broken. And there are a ton of Giants positives in the remainder of my review of what I saw Saturday night:

1. The defensive line looks as though it will be just fine. Even with Justin Tuck leaving early with a neck injury (he also said he was fine), the Giants' pass rush completely abused Wayne Hunter and an overmatched Jets offensive line. Jason Pierre-Paul and reserve defensive end Adewale Ojomo each had two sacks and the Giants had seven as a team to go with their nine quarterback hits and nine tackles for loss. But what I thought was most impressive while the first-team defense was in there was the performance of starting defensive tackles Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard, who forced the issue in the middle of the line and limited the Jets on the ground as well. The Giants are banged up at defensive tackle with Chris Canty and Marvin Austin on the shelf, but Bernard and Joseph played as though they didn't want anyone to worry.

2. Eli Manning likes throwing to Victor Cruz. Manning didn't do a lot to help the Giants find their No. 3 wide receiver. Five of his seven completions were caught by Cruz, and while that was fun for Giants fans to watch, everybody already knew that hookup worked. Ramses Barden did drop one Manning pass early on, which didn't help his case. Overall, Manning had a poor night, completing 7 of 14 for 62 yards and an ugly overthrow interception. But he's obviously the least of their worries.

3. As for those No. 3 receiver candidates ... Rookie Rueben Randle made the best catch of the night, a leaping 49-yarder from David Carr. But it was his only catch of the game. Jerrel Jernigan caught two passes for 26 yards, Domenik Hixon one for four yards and Barden was shut out. The buzz during the week was about a Manning quote that said they could rotate guys into that role and into situations that maximize their different strengths, and that's a reasonable way to handle the situation. But I still think Barden's going to have to grab that role if he wants to make the team. The other guys help on special teams.

4. Chase Blackburn's probably safe for a while. Blackburn and Kenny Phillips combined to fill a gap and make a nice stop on Shonn Greene on a second-down run. Later in the game, Mark Herzlich suffered a hip pointer. Blackburn's the starting middle linebacker for now, and Herzlich's going to have to come and take the job from him. Blackburn hasn't done anything to lose it, and now Herzlich's hurt. Keith Rivers, by the way, looked active on the outside, starting in place of an injured Michael Boley.

5. Got to like Jayron Hosley. The rookie cornerback was a star of the game on defense and on special teams, where he returned an interception 77 yards for a touchdown. Reports from the postgame locker room say Hosley had his foot in a walking boot, so it seems as though he got injured, too. Would be a shame if he had to miss time. It looks as though the Giants want to use him a lot, and other than last week's muffed punt, everything he's done on the field has made him look like a very useful guy.

6. Wilson does show something. The rookie running back out of Virginia Tech was a first-round pick for a reason. You can see, when he gets room to run, what he brings in terms of explosiveness. I believe he'll be a good player for the Giants. He even looked good in blitz pickup once he got into the game. But this national perception that he's the sure-thing backup or some sort of threat to take carries away from Bradshaw has gotten out of hand. He's clearly fourth on the running-back depth chart right now, and Ware has earned that No. 2 spot. Wilson will develop, maybe quickly, and likely be an asset for the Giants down the road. But he has developing to do, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's kind of how the Giants roll.

7. Will Hill. He's getting to be a fun story, playing well at safety and coming up with a sack of Tim Tebow. Could be a nice latent-talent find by the Giants' front office, a la Herzlich and of course Cruz.
No, there's no need for any kind of outright panic. The core, star-power pieces of the New York Giants' defensive line appear to be healthy. Defensive ends Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul and Osi Umenyiora, who form the engine of the league's most feared pass rush, are not the topic of this post. But the Giants announced Tuesday morning a number of other injuries that strike at the overall depth of their defensive line:
  • Shaun Rogers, the veteran defensive tackle who's been one of the surprise stars of training camp, is being treated for a blood clot in his leg. This is a very serious medical issue, and there's certainly no timetable at this point for Rogers' return.
  • Marvin Austin, the second-year defensive tackle who hasn't played an angry football game since 2009, is being treated for a back injury. Austin was suspended for his final season at North Carolina as part of that program's academic scandal and missed his rookie NFL season with an injury. The Giants have been hoping he could give their interior pass rush a boost, but they don't know to what (if any) extent they can count on him.
  • Defensive tackle Martin Parker, who missed the whole 2011 season with a foot injury, needs back surgery to repair a herniated disk.
  • Defensive end Justin Trattou continues to have heel and ankle problems, and the team says he's "not expected back on the field for several weeks." It seems as though Adrian Tracy, however, has been the leading candidate to replace Dave Tollefson as the reserve pass-rusher.
  • Defensive tackle Chris Canty remains out indefinitely following offseason knee surgery.

There is good news on defensive tackle Rocky Bernard, who has been practicing this week after missing Friday's preseason opener with a knee injury. But all in all, the Giants' depth on the defensive line -- particularly at defensive tackle -- is being challenged. Austin and Rogers were the two players the Giants were hoping could help make up for Canty's absence, and right now they don't know if they'll have either any time soon. Defensive tackle is an important position at which to be deep, since the physical demands of the position make it almost essential to rest and rotate players as much as possible.

If the issues continue, the Giants could be on the lookout for a defensive tackle as teams start to make cuts later this month. Meantime, some back-of-the-roster guys are going to get a whole lot of preseason snaps.

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