NFL Nation: Geoff Schwartz

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Most of the New York Giants' players finished up meetings Monday and headed out for a long midseason break. The Giants are on bye next week and don't play again until Nov. 3. So guys who want to shut it down, get out of town for a few days, go fishing, whatever, they all go their separate ways.

Some will have to be around the facility, however, to get treatment for various injuries. And there are a few significant Giants injuries to monitor over the next couple of weeks.

Jennings
Schwartz
There is some hope that the return of running back Rashad Jennings from the knee injury that has cost him the past two games and of guard Geoff Schwartz from the toe injury that has so far delayed his Giants' debut will help get the running game going again. But to hear coach Tom Coughlin tell it, neither of those players is a sure thing to return in Week 9. Due to his short-term injured reserve status, Schwartz wasn't even eligible to practice until last week, and all he's done so far is some light running.

"Schwartz has got a long way to go," Coughlin said.

Coughlin also pointed out Jennings is trying to work his way back from a pretty serious knee injury -- an MCL sprain he suffered in the Week 5 victory over Atlanta. Jennings said his goal is to get back in time for the Week 9 "Monday Night Football" game.

"That's what we're trying to get to," Jennings said. "We've got the bye week and we've got some down time, so I'm just working. Preparing my body so that when it heals I can pick up where I left off."

Jennings said he would do more running this week and then "eventually get into the cuts." Schwartz said the goal for him was to practice on the field with the team next week when they return from the bye week.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants are banged up as well. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins left Sunday's game in Dallas in the first half with a calf strain. An MRI on Monday confirmed the strain and nothing more, but Jenkins was still on crutches and in a walking boot Monday and said it was "probably going to be at least a couple weeks" before he could play again.

Middle linebacker Jon Beason re-aggravated the toe injury that cost him all of training camp and three games earlier this season, and Coughlin said Beason likely would go back to see the same foot specialist he's seen a few times this year. It's possible the Giants will end up having to shut Beason down due to this injury, but Coughlin said that's not in the plans at this point.

And cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie plans to continue to play through the leg and back injuries that have been limiting him. "It's going to be a continuous kind of thing here," Coughlin said, though he's hoping the two weeks of rest will help.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin has been answering a lot of questions about the poor performance of his team's passing game this preseason. And after reviewing film of the fifth preseason game, he seemed to have a fresh explanation for Eli Manning's struggles.

Manning
"Did we have a game where we just sat back and threw it? Not really," Coughlin said in a conference call Friday. "And that was because last year, we were so poor in the run game that it ruined our balance and we turned the ball over a ridiculous amount. So we didn't want to get away from our run game."

Coughlin said it's possible they could or should have stressed the passing game more in the preseason, and he said he expects things will look better "once we zoom in on an all-encompassing game plan."

Other notes from Coughlin's day-after conference call:
  • He said the timetable on guard Geoff Schwartz's recovery from toe injury is likely to be a bit longer than 3-to-4 weeks. He didn't rule out placing Schwartz on short-term injured reserve, which would keep him out for the first eight weeks of the season, but it sounds as though they hope they don't have to do that.
  • Coughlin said middle linebacker Jon Beason should be cleared to practice Monday. That likely makes Beason available for the regular-season opener Sept. 8 in Detroit, though it remains to be seen how much he'll be able to play after missing all of training camp with a foot injury.
  • Fullback Henry Hynoski has a "contusion" of his shoulder and felt better Friday than he did after leaving the game Thursday. Sounds as though they have avoided a major problem with Hynoski.
  • Wide receiver Mario Manningham has a strained calf. This likely means the end for Manningham with the Giants, though Coughlin wasn't giving anything away about final decisions on that or any other aspect of the final roster cuts due Saturday.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin said rookie Weston Richburg and veteran John Jerry would start at left guard and right guard, respectively, in Thursday's preseason finale against the Patriots. Richburg is replacing Geoff Schwartz, who will miss at least a few weeks, if not more, with a toe injury he suffered in Friday's preseason game. Jerry is replacing Brandon Mosley, who has missed the last three days of practice with a back injury.

"He's up and moving, so obviously that's a good sign," Coughlin said of Mosley, who's been the first-team right guard since Chris Snee retired on the eve of training camp.

Jerry
Mosley's injury has offered a fresh chance for Jerry, who missed the start of camp following spring knee surgery and hasn't shown much. If he looks good Thursday night, there's certainly a chance he could steal the job from Mosley. It's also possible that Richburg will lock down left guard in Schwartz's absence and that Schwartz could play right guard upon his return.

The Giants got good news Tuesday when they learned Schwartz would not need surgery, but it remains unclear how much time they can expect him to miss.

"He's very optimistic, and hopefully that's going to mean the recovery will be as fast as possible," Coughlin said of Schwartz. "Obviously, we can't rush him back. It certainly would be good to get him back as soon as possible, but it's not going to be easy."

In other Giants injury news:
  • First-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. and kick returner Trindon Holliday missed practice again with hamstring injuries. Tackle Charles Brown and tackle/guard James Brewer sat out with shoulder and back injuries, respectively.
  • Cornerback Prince Amukamara is making good progress in his return from a groin injury, but he won't play Thursday night.
  • Running back Peyton Hillis appeared to be practicing in full. Hillis missed a few weeks of camp with an ankle injury but has returned to practice this week. He made a nice juggling catch on a wheel route with Jacquian Williams covering him in practice Tuesday.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It's now been a week since the setback that wasn't a setback, and New York Giants rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham still isn't practicing with the team. Obviously, this means the team's first-round draft pick won't play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Patriots, which means he won't have played in any of the Giants' five preseason games.

"He's not going to play," an obviously frustrated Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after Monday's practice, during which Beckham once again worked on a side field with the training staff. "Have you seen him practice? How about practicing first?"

Beckham's last full training camp practice was when he was still at LSU. He injured his hamstring in the first practice of Giants training camp July 22 and hasn't practiced in full with the team since. He returned to the field a bit a couple of weeks ago and was working his way into 11-on-11 drills, but then he hurt himself in practice again last Monday and hasn't practiced since.

"I think he's very frustrated," Coughlin said. "I think his whole personality's held in check because he's not able to do the things that he wants to do."

With Beckham out, the Giants have been using Jerrel Jernigan in his outside receiver spot. It's possible that preseason star Corey Washington could get a look there with the first team Thursday, but we thought that was possible last week and Washington didn't play until the fourth quarter against the Jets.

Obviously, Beckham's availability for the Sept. 8 "Monday Night Football" opener in Detroit is in serious doubt. The Giants don't like to rush rookies into action in the first place, and that's especially true when the rookie hasn't had a training camp.

In other Giants injury news:
  • Guard Geoff Schwartz was seeing a foot specialist Monday to determine the severity of his toe injury. The Giants should have news on Schwartz at some point early this week, but it's safe to assume he'll have to miss at least the first few games of the regular season, if not many more.
  • Guard Brandon Mosley missed a second straight day of practice due to a back injury and was getting examined by a doctor, according to Coughlin. John Jerry played with the first-team line in Mosley's right guard spot while rookie Weston Richburg manned Schwartz's left guard spot.
  • Offensive lineman James Brewer remains out with a back injury, which could damage his chances of making the 53-man roster. Brewer was on the bubble to begin with.
  • Return specialist Trindon Holliday also sat out of practice with a hamstring injury. Holliday did some individual work Sunday but did not appear to work at all Monday. With Holliday and Beckham both sidelined, the Giants are hurting at punt returner and may keep wide receiver Preston Parker because has experience in that role.

Giants have a problem at guard

August, 24, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- In an offseason in which fixing the offensive line was the New York Giants' clear No. 1 priority, Geoff Schwartz was their first call.

They targeted Schwartz early and signed him as soon as free agency began. They viewed him not as a cure-all but as a foundation piece -- a reliable veteran whose presence at left guard would help make the rest of their line problems easier to solve.

So while injuries happen and you can't fault the Giants if Schwartz's toe injury keeps him out for a significant period of time, it is a major problem for them, and they may struggle more than you think to solve it.

Schwartz
 The "next man up," to borrow from strained NFL parlance, is rookie Weston Richburg, a second-round pick who played center in college but has been working throughout camp at guard behind Schwartz and Brandon Mosley. Richburg obviously has talent. There was some thought when he was drafted that he might be a better option at center than current projected starter J.D. Walton. But he's also a rookie, and even he admits he's not where he'd like to be at this point in his development.

"Oh, no," Richburg said Sunday morning. "If you're content with how you're playing, I think you're cheating yourself. I always want to get better. I made some mistakes in the last game that I know I need to correct."

He may have no choice but to correct them on the fly. The Giants don't like to lean on rookies as starters, but they showed last season with right tackle Justin Pugh that they will if they have no other choice. Pugh played well enough as a 16-game rookie starter that it worked out. Problem is, there's no guarantee that it will work out again. Even if Richburg is an eventual Pro Bowler, no one can be sure he'll develop as quickly as Pugh did.

"What I'm doing best right now is having a short memory," Richburg said. "If I make a mistake, just clap it off and go on to the next play and not let it affect me. I think I'm doing a good job of forgetting about it and just playing fast and continuing."

Great, but the issue is that the understandable rookie mistakes are happening, and that mistakes on the offensive line are hazardous to the health and effectiveness of Giants quarterback Eli Manning. This wouldn't be as serious a concern if left guard were the only spot at which there was concern. But the Giants have had pass-protection issues with Walton, Mosley and left tackle Will Beatty this preseason as well. Adding a still-green Richburg to the starting mix leaves Pugh as the surest commodity, and even he is a second-year player whose growing pains likely aren't all the way behind him. There are still talent evaluators around the league who view Pugh as a guard playing out of position and think the Giants' line will be better once he's moved inside, but at this point they don't have any better options at tackle.

No, the issue here continues to be depth, and that's a failing of the organization's offseason. They brought in John Jerry on the premise that he'd be a quality veteran backup should something happen at guard, yet after Chris Snee retired and Schwartz got hurt Jerry remains in a backup role while Richburg and Mosley line up with the starters. Charles Brown, signed as the veteran depth at tackle, played terribly in relief of Beatty early and is now hurt, which has resulted in Pugh having to take some left tackle snaps in practice with Mosley moved out to right tackle. Reserve guard/center Eric Herman is suspended for four games, and reserve guard/tackle James Brewer is hurt.

It's thin, folks, and it's still very thin at the interior positions that were supposed to be upgraded this year. There's a lot of book from last year on how easy and effective it is to pressure Manning from the A-gap, and if the Giants don't get things figured out in there, defenses aren't going to need to alter last year's plan very much to beat them. After all the work that was done in the offseason, the Giants' biggest 2014 problem may end up being exactly the same as the one that sunk them in 2013.

Geoff Schwartz to see foot specialist

August, 23, 2014
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NEW YORK -- Injured left guard Geoff Schwartz will be evaluated by renowned foot specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, North Carolina, New York Giants coach Tom Coughlin said in a conference call Saturday.

Schwartz
A source confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com that the visit will take place at the beginning of the coming week.

The 28-year-old Schwartz, who signed a four-year, $16.8 million contract with the Giants in the offseason with $6.2 million guaranteed, dislocated his toe and was carted off the field during Friday night’s preseason game against the New York Jets.

The fear is Schwartz will miss a significant period of time.

“Anybody would be a loss. We don’t want to lose anybody. Losing Geoff is, as I said, it’s a major disappointment. But let’s not jump to conclusions,” Coughlin said. “Let’s see what happens when the evaluation is completed as to what the length of time is involved.”

Coughlin mentioned rookie Weston Richburg, veteran John Jerry and reserve Dallas Reynolds as candidates to replace Schwartz at left guard.

“We continue to, we’ve done various experiments with people at different spots,” Coughlin said. “Richburg has been in there, John Jerry’s been in there now, played substantially last night, so we’ve had a chance to move people around. Dallas Reynolds has played guard as well, so we’ll just continue to operate in that fashion and hopefully there will be no setback, and we’ll hopefully just continue.”

New York’s offensive line, a major question mark heading into training camp, has underachieved during the preseason, giving quarterback Eli Manning little time to make his throws. Left tackle Will Beatty and right tackle Brandon Mosley have not performed up to expectations thus far.

Richburg, 23, was the team’s second-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft out of Colorado State. He played center in college, but the versatile offensive lineman has also spent plenty of time at guard as well.

“He did all right last night,” Coughlin said of Richburg. “He’s had to adjust to both sides of the center and also the center position as well. He did OK last night and he’s a talented young man that is in a position where he’s going to have to help us.”

Observation Deck: New York Giants

August, 22, 2014
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It took only three weeks, four preseason games and 37 pass attempts, but New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning finally threw a touchdown pass Friday night.

Manning's final play of the Giants' 35-24 exhibition victory over the New York Jets was a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rueben Randle that capped off a successful two-minute drill by the Giants' first-team offense. After the way things had gone so far this preseason -- and in this game -- they needed it.

Here are some other thoughts on the Giants' fourth preseason game:
  • Until that two-minute drive, on which Manning was 7-for-10 for 91 yards and Victor Cruz caught three passes for 52 yards, the pass protection had been a major issue. Left tackle Will Beatty struggled mightily in his second game of the preseason. Left guard Geoff Schwartz went down with a dislocated toe. And Manning was under siege all night. It was no excuse for the terrible decision and throw he made on the fourth play of his final drive, which resulted in an interception that was overturned because the defender had stepped out of bounds. But Manning had trouble getting into a rhythm because his protection was a mess.
  • Backup quarterback Ryan Nassib looked sharp once again, throwing touchdown passes to Henry Hynoski and Preston Parker in the third quarter, and he looks like a strong bet to win the No. 2 quarterback job ahead of Curtis Painter.
  • Parker, by the way, continues to work as a punt returner with Odell Beckham Jr. and Trindon Holliday out, and a strong showing as a receiver helps his case to make the final roster. Also helping that case could be a bad break for Marcus Harris, who was getting significant work with the first-team offense Friday night before a shoulder injury knocked him out of the game.
  • Hynoski, by the way, looks as though he has a role to play in the offense, even though they're not using a fullback much in these preseason games. Hynoski can be used in a variety of ways, especially as the Giants continue to have questions at tight end.
  • Speaking of tight end, Kellen Davis got 14 first-team snaps, Larry Donnell got 14 and Adrien Robinson got 14, including all 11 in that two-minute drill during which the Giants didn't substitute. Davis was the starter, and five of Donnell's snaps were in two-tight-end formations with one of the other two on the field. Donnell also was flagged for a holding penalty and an illegal block in the back (which was declined). Still no clarity here.
  • Reserve defensive end Damontre Moore made his presence felt in the second half with a pair of sacks and a fumble recovery. Moore continues to make plays when given the chance, but the Giants are still working with him on playing more under control and avoiding penalties.
  • Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul left the game briefly with a knee injury but did return to action. Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (lower leg) and cornerback Zack Bowman (triceps) left the game with injuries and did not return.
  • And of course, Corey Washington caught a touchdown pass for the fourth straight preseason game, because that's apparently a thing.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' struggling offensive line lost a key piece in the first half of Friday night's preseason game when left guard Geoff Schwartz was carted off the field with a toe injury.

The Giants later announced that Schwartz had a dislocated toe, which is relatively good news considering the other possibilities that seemed to exist when he was carted off in obvious pain. It's unclear how much time he'll have to miss, but a fracture would have been more significant and potentially devastating to an offensive line that's already having a terrible time in pass protection.

Rookie Weston Richburg replaced Schwartz at left guard with the first-team offense and would be the most likely candidate to fill in if Schwartz misses any time.

Also injured in Friday's game for the Giants were defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (lower leg), wide receiver Marcus Harris (shoulder) and cornerback Zack Bowman (triceps). Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul also came out of the game briefly with an apparent knee injury but did return to the field.

We hope to have further updates on all of these injuries for you after the game ends.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For all of the very legitimate concern over the condition of Odell Beckham Jr.'s hamstring, the more pressing matter for the New York Giants with the season coming up quickly now is the state of the offensive line. The regular season begins in less than three weeks, and the Giants are still searching for the right starting-five combination of offensive linemen.

What's worse, the preseason has given them some reason to question whether they really are deeper on the line than they were during last season's meltdown.

The first-team line for Saturday's preseason game in Indianapolis was Will Beatty at left tackle, Geoff Schwartz at left guard, J.D. Walton at center, Brandon Mosley at right guard and Justin Pugh at right tackle. That's what it's been in practice since training camp started, and I think the Giants' ideal plan would be to feel good enough about that line to run it out there Week 1 in Detroit.

Problem is, Mosley has been inconsistent, Schwartz struggled a bit Saturday and Beatty's still recovering from (A) a broken leg and (B) a poor season, so they can't know what they have with him yet. He still needs to take practice reps off, and he did again Tuesday.

Now, the fill-in for Beatty earlier in camp was veteran Charles Brown, but he's got a shoulder injury now and was playing poorly even when healthy. With backup tackle James Brewer also hurt, the Giants tried something interesting Tuesday when Beatty had to come off the field. They moved Pugh from right tackle to left tackle, kicked Mosley out to right tackle and put rookie second-round pick Weston Richburg at right guard.

"They're all playing pretty much everywhere," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "You always attempt to be creative and flexible."

The goal is to find the best combination of five and let it play and jell together. But it seems clear at this point that the Giants don't feel they've done that yet. They could elevate Richburg, who's played both guard spots and center this camp, to starting guard in place of Mosley and put him and Schwartz on either side, really. If they ended up having to move Pugh to left tackle, they could play Schwartz at right tackle, where he has some experience, and keep Mosley and Richburg as the guards. Richburg could yet overtake Walton at center, which is the position he played in college.

What's disappointing, after a year in which they scrambled for depth on the line, is the backup situation. Brown was terrible at left tackle, and John Jerry has been a non-factor so far at guard. These were the veterans the Giants signed with the hope that they'd have more experience behind the starters this year than they did last year. Brewer hasn't developed and is on the roster bubble. Promising guard/center Eric Herman is suspended for the first four games of the season for a drug violation. Injuries to starters on the offensive line have a chance to put the Giants right back where they were when it all fell apart early last season. And in case you don't remember, that wasn't good.

Some other thoughts from Tuesday's practice:
  • This was a "cards" day, with time spent in preparation for Friday's preseason opponent, the Jets, specifically. So for much of practice, for example, the Giants' offense was running Jets plays. Eli Manning in the pistol, etc. And there were times when it was the defense's job to simulate Rex Ryan's exotic blitz schemes. This is the one preseason game for which the Giants devise a game plan, and it'll be interesting to see whether that helps the first-team offense look better.
  • Rookie linebacker Devon Kennard managed to tip and pick off a Manning pass in 7-on-7 drills while the defense was in a Jets-specific look. He's a fun player to watch in practice, though the special-teams coaches continue to work with him on technique on the coverage teams.
  • The Giants have tried the past couple of days to get Mario Manningham more looks on the outside at wide receiver to evaluate him and his balky knee. He does not seem to be performing at a high level. You wonder whether they will start using Victor Cruz outside more if they're not going to have Beckham to start the season, or whether they'll leave Cruz in the slot and use someone like Marcus Harris or Corey Washington on the outside.

Giants Camp Report: Day 15

August, 13, 2014
Aug 13
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. continues to make significant progress from the hamstring injury that has held him out of practice since the first day of camp. The team's first-round pick even took a couple of snaps Wednesday in 11-on-11 drills and caught a touchdown pass on one of them. Giants coach Tom Coughlin didn't even rule out the possibility that Beckham could play in Saturday's preseason game in Indianapolis, though I have to think that's a long shot and that next Friday against the Jets is more likely.
  • Coughlin said left tackle Will Beatty and cornerback Trumaine McBride, who have been practicing but didn't play in the first two preseason games as part of the plan for their recoveries from offseason surgery, would play Saturday. He said to expect Beatty to play about as much as a starting offensive lineman would play in a first preseason game of the year. For comparison's sake, Geoff Schwartz and J.D. Walton played 20 snaps in the Hall of Fame Game, and right tackle Justin Pugh played 24.
  • Cornerback Walter Thurmond continues to dazzle, and I have to think it will be a huge relief for Giants slot receiver Victor Cruz to go up against whoever the Detroit Lions are using as a nickel cornerback Sept. 8 in Detroit. Thurmond's highlight plays Wednesday included a pass breakup on which he had tight end Larry Donnell blanketed over the middle and a stop on running back Rashad Jennings when Jennings caught a pass in the flat.
  • Other highlight plays: Rookie linebacker Devon Kennard knocking rookie running back Andre Williams to the ground in the backfield on a run play; Rueben Randle's acrobatic catch in the corner of the end zone against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in one-on-one goal-line drills; Rookie cornerback Bennett Jackson ripping the ball out of wide receiver Travis Harvey's hands at the end of a long pass play; Interceptions of Curtis Painter by Mark Herzlich and Chandler Fenner in early team drills.
  • Wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan was back at practice after sitting out Monday and Tuesday with a knee injury. New to the list of injured players sitting out practice was cornerback Zack Bowman (unclear what his injury was). Also sitting out were running back Peyton Hillis (ankle), tight end Xavier Grimble (hamstring), tight end Daniel Fells (knee), return man Trindon Holliday (hamstring) and defensive tackle Mike Patterson (shoulder).
  • Cruz, who had some knee issues in practice this week, seemed completely fine and appeared to do everything in Wednesday's relatively short practice.
  • Though they will continue to practice here next week as they have been, Thursday marks the final official day of Giants training camp. That means Thursday's 1:20 pm practice will be the final practice of the year that is open to the public. So take off work and come out to say hi. Tell your boss I said it was okay.

Camp Confidential: New York Giants

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There's a tricky balancing act going on here in New York Giants training camp this summer. The team is trying its best to wash away the memory of a disappointing 7-9 season, but to do that they're asking for a lot of help from a lot of people who weren't even on that team.

"Obviously, we did a lot of work in the offseason and tried to turn the roster over a little bit," said Giants GM Jerry Reese, whose team signed more free agents than any other in the NFL this offseason. "But there are plenty of guys who were here last year for that 0-6 start and have a bad taste in our mouths."

Among those are quarterback Eli Manning, who threw 27 interceptions in the worst season of his career, and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who struggled through back and shoulder problems and recorded just two sacks in the 11 games he played.

 They are the biggest keys to potential success on each side of the ball for the Giants, and each has a fresh energy in this camp. Pierre-Paul says he's "110 percent" because he's fully healthy for the first time since October 2012. Manning is invigorated by the new scheme being installed by new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

"It's different, and you come into the season a little nervous," Manning said. "It's a different feeling at this time of year than in previous years. We still have a lot of work to do, a lot to improve on, but I'm excited about that challenge."

Three reasons for optimism

1. The secondary: The Giants spent big to upgrade at cornerback, signing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from the AFC champion Denver Broncos, Walter Thurmond from the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks and Zack Bowman from the Chicago Bears. They also re-signed Trumaine McBride, who was a starter for them last season, and still have 2011 first-round pick Prince Amukamara. The Giants believe the cornerback group is a strength, and, on paper, it appears to be so. "Now," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell asked last week, "can we get them to play together?"

[+] EnlargeJason Pierre-Paul
Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY SportsJason Pierre-Paul, fully healthy for the first time in nearly two years, is eager to regain his form and bolster the Giants' pass rush.
2. Jason Pierre-Paul: The Giants had just 33 sacks last season, and Justin Tuck, who's now with the Oakland Raiders, had 11 of them. The pass rush has to improve in order for the secondary to thrive. That's why the Giants are so encouraged about the health and attitude of Pierre-Paul. Back surgery in June 2013 and a shoulder injury suffered in Week 10 last season combined to make it "a lost year" in Pierre-Paul's own words. But if he's back to full health, they have reason to hope he can return to the form he flashed in 2011, when he had 16.5 sacks and the Giants won the Super Bowl.

3. The line can't be any worse: The total collapse of the offensive line was the biggest reason for the Giants' 0-6 start and 7-9 record in 2013. With Chris Snee having retired the day before camp, they have a question mark at right guard, but they believe they're better with Geoff Schwartz at left guard and J.D. Walton at center than they were in those spots last season. Moreover, the signings of veterans Charles Brown and John Jerry and the second-round selection of Weston Richburg have the Giants convinced their backups are better in case the line is ravaged by injury again. The key might be a rebound season for left tackle Will Beatty.

Three reasons for pessimism

1. Is it all too much too soon? The Giants project to have six new starters on offense and six on defense, as well as a new offensive coordinator. They didn't dip their toe into the free-agent waters this offseason -- they dove in headfirst and stayed in until their fingertips wrinkled. Most teams -- including the Giants -- will tell you that big free-agent sprees aren't the way to build teams. They had to sign a lot of guys because their roster had hollowed out, but it's folly to think they could have possibly solved all of their problems in one offseason. There are likely to be lingering questions to answer next spring.

2. Inexperience on offense: Rashad Jennings has never been a No. 1 running back in the NFL. Odell Beckham Jr. is a rookie at wide receiver, and Rueben Randle is a starter for the first time there as well. They have no established starting tight end on the roster. They have inexperience at center and right guard, and right tackle Justin Pugh is entering his second NFL season. The new scheme is simple and quick and could be fun to watch, but there are reasons to wonder whether the Giants have the right personnel to make it all work.

3. Leadership void: Many of the players who left or retired were significant leaders on the field and in the locker room. Tuck, Snee, Terrell Thomas and Kevin Boothe were all players to whom teammates looked for guidance in good and tough times. Jon Beason and Antrel Rolle return to captain the defense, and Manning takes a leadership role behind the scenes on offense, but the absence of several of the players who helped keep chins up during last season's 0-6 start as well as they did during recent Super Bowl runs creates a challenge for Tom Coughlin and his coaching staff.

Observation deck

  • Jennings is the clear No. 1 back, but now that neck injuries have forced David Wilson to retire, the Giants are trying to sort out the running back depth chart behind him. Their preference is for rookie fourth-rounder Andre Williams to show enough to claim the No. 2 spot. He looks good running the ball but not so good catching it, and, as any rookie back would, he has work to do in pass protection.
  • [+] EnlargeRashad Jennings
    AP Photo/Seth WenigRashad Jennings gets his first shot at being a No. 1 running back. Meanwhile, the Giants' depth chart behind him has yet to be sorted out.
  • Larry Donnell is leading the uninspiring pack at tight end, especially with Daniel Fells laid up with an injury. Donnell has the surest hands of the group and is a good downfield blocker, though he could stand to show more power at the point of attack in the run game.
  • Surprise young stars of camp include rookie fifth-round linebacker Devon Kennard, who could push for playing time at strongside linebacker, even after Beason returns from injury and Jameel McClain gets bumped back outside, and wide receiver Marcus Harris, who's making a strong push for the roster spot once thought ticketed for the still-gimpy Mario Manningham.
  • Beatty has done much more than the Giants expected him to do at this point in his recovery from his broken leg, and he's determined to put his disappointing 2013 season behind him. He has held his own against the revitalized Pierre-Paul in recent practices.
  • Jacquian Williams, once strictly used as a coverage linebacker in nickel packages, has progressed to the point where the coaches consider him their starting weakside linebacker in the base defense. His speed is a major asset.

Giants Camp Report: Day 12

August, 7, 2014
Aug 7
8:10
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Let's get the nightly interception rundown out of the way first. Zack Bowman intercepted Curtis Painter, Charles James intercepted Eli Manning and Bowman intercepted Ryan Nassib in the end zone. Chandler Fenner almost got a pick for the second night in a row, but Corey Washington turned into a defensive back and knocked it away from him at the last second. The secondary is ahead of the offense, is the basic point here.
  • The star of the secondary is Walter Thurmond, though. He came on a corner blitz and got to Andre Williams in the backfield on one play. And while they love him as the nickel corner, Thurmond got a lot of work on the outside Thursday night as well, staying on the field with the first-team base defense while Prince Amukamara or Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie took a break.
  • Left guard Geoff Schwartz returned to practice, but his left knee is obviously bugging him and he didn't take many reps. Weston Richburg got most of the snaps at first-team left guard. Charles Brown took most of the first-team left tackle snaps, but not because of any fresh injury to Will Beatty. It's just that Beatty isn't playing Saturday and Brown is.
  • I watched running back pass-catching drills. The most natural pass-catchers in the group are Rashad Jennings and fullback Henry Hynoski. Rookie Andre Williams seems to be doing a bit better job catching the ball in his hands (as opposed to against his body), but it's a work in progress.
  • The tight ends still look bad catching the ball, other than Larry Donnell. Adrien Robinson had a bad drop. Kellen Davis caught a ball awkwardly near the sideline and stepped right out of bounds even though there was no one near him. Some of the players not in on that play groaned a bit.
  • Marcus Harris made two nice catches, including one jumping at the goal line to corral a touchdown pass from Nassib.
  • I'm always fascinated to see who stays after practice for extra work. Charles James, Preston Parker, Harris and Jayron Hosley stayed to work on punt returns a bit more. Cooper Taylor was off to the side with a blocking sled, presumably honing that punt-protection technique. Amukamara and Rodgers-Cromartie stayed late for the third night in a row so Amukamara could work on jumping for interceptions. And all three quarterbacks, including Manning, stuck around to practice taking shotgun snaps from all three centers.
  • The Jets were playing a home preseason game across the parking lot at MetLife Stadium that kicked off about an hour and 20 minutes into Giants practice. During Giants practice, some (presumably Jets) fans kept driving by on Paterson Plank Road and hollering insults at the Giants. None were printable, sorry.
  • The Giants are off Friday in advance of Saturday night's preseason game against the Steelers at MetLife Stadium.

Giants Camp Report: Day 10

August, 5, 2014
Aug 5
8:15
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Cooper Taylor's missed block that led to a blocked punt Sunday night against the Bills annoyed Giants coach Tom Coughlin, who personally oversaw a punt-protection drill in the early part of Tuesday's evening practice and stayed after to watch Taylor work one-on-one with Mathias Kiwanuka on improving his technique. Funny thing about it is, Taylor has actually looked very good at safety this camp (as he did in Sunday night's game). On Tuesday, Taylor had a nice leaping interception of a Ryan Nassib pass. Later, on a play on which Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was covering Victor Cruz and let him go inside, Taylor did a perfect job picking up Cruz and covering him while Eli Manning went through his progression. Taylor can help as a safety, but he needs to get the special-teams work cleaned up if he wants to make the team.
  • Cornerback Prince Amukamara was upset that he didn't intercept a deep pass from Jeff Tuel to T.J. Graham on Sunday night, so he too stayed after practice to work on jumping and catching the ball at his highest point. He ran about a half-dozen plays, and his quarterback for the drill was fellow cornerback Rodgers-Cromartie, who doesn't throw a terrible deep ball and who showed Amukamara how it's done with an athletic leaping catch of his own at the end.
  • Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who's been out of practice with a hamstring injury since July 22, did more on the field than he's done in two weeks. He stretched with the team and did a good deal of running on his own, practicing making cuts and running not at top speed but at something quicker than a jog. It's definitely progress, though there's no timetable for Beckham's return to the field.
  • Other injury notes: Running back Peyton Hillis left practice with a sprained ankle, but he was able to walk off and into the building on his own power. ... Guard Geoff Schwartz was in and out of team drills for some reason and could be seen flexing his left leg in discomfort on the sideline when he came out. I asked Schwartz after practice if he was OK and he said yes, but did not elaborate. ... Linebacker Spencer Paysinger (concussion), left tackle Will Beatty (illness) and cornerback Bennett Jackson (ankle) all returned after missing practice last week. Defensive tackle Mike Patterson (shoulder), return man Trindon Holliday (hamstring) and tight ends Xavier Grimble (hamstring) and Daniel Fells (knee) all sat out. Defensive end Robert Ayers (ankle) was limited.
  • Two little highlights: Tight end Larry Donnell made a nice high-point catch in coverage. And wide receiver Corey Washington caught a ball in traffic and, instead of stiff-arming defensive back Jayron Hosley, slapped him in the side of the helmet on the way by.
  • The Giants signed former Bears and Lions defensive end Israel Idonije and tight end Jerome Cunningham. To make room, they put David Wilson on injured reserve and waived defensive lineman Kendrick Adams.
  • The Giants practice from 5:40 p.m. ET to 7:50 p.m. again Wednesday, and this one is open to the public.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- We got to talk to New York Giants offensive line coach Pat Flaherty on Friday, and it was excellent. He told us a story about how his father taught him to play center by having him practice in front of a huge oak tree that he'd have to jump up and hit every time he snapped the ball. It was horrifying and awesome all at the same time. I would like to talk to Pat Flaherty every day if possible, but it's not, so we enjoy what we get.

Also, I know most of you would rather hear about what is going on with the New York Giants' offensive line than what Flaherty did to that oak tree (or what that oak tree did to him). So here's a spot-by-spot breakdown of some stuff Flaherty said Friday:

Left tackle

Beatty
Beatty
Will Beatty has practiced a lot more than anyone expected he would coming off the broken leg he suffered in Week 17 last season. Beatty also has a bit more of an edge to him when he talks to you this summer. Not a ton, mind you. He's still mild-mannered Will. But he definitely seems extra motivated to get back out on the field and show what he can do. And the coaches have noticed.

"Will Beatty's working, and anytime you're at work playing football and putting the pads on, you're going to get better," Flaherty said. "The thing we don't have to have happen is regression with his rehab, but he's handling both things very well, as expected. He's got a ways to go, but he's progressing more now than he would by standing on the sidelines talking to me."

Beatty is coming off not just a broken leg but a rotten 2013 season in general. He signed a long-term contract extension with the team prior to last season and admitted late in the season that the pressure of it affected him.

Schwartz
"He's not that player," Flaherty said of the 2013 version of Beatty. "That starts with me coaching. To be able to coach somebody, he has to be out there on the practice field. If he's not out there practicing the day-to-day drills, then that sets him back and affects your technique on Sundays. Your flaws get magnified. That's what happend last year. This year, we'll see. He's attacking and making sure it doesn't happen again."

Left guard

Geoff Schwartz is a proud, beaming father who misses his newborn baby but looks forward to seeing him again when the family comes to town following the Aug. 3 Hall of Fame Game. The free-agent signee projects as one of the few sure things on this line. Flaherty didn't address him to any significant extent during his news conference.

Center

Walton
J.D. Walton is getting the first-team snaps ahead of rookie second-round pick Weston Richburg, and the sense I get is that the Giants are happy with Walton so far. The center is tasked with more responsibility in the new offense this year in terms of making the protection calls, and Walton told me it's been the toughest thing for him to learn. But Flaherty seems to think he's made a breakthrough. Walton missed the past two seasons with an ankle injury, and Flaherty was asked whether Walton was still shaking off rust.

"If he was rusty, I think he's had some WD-40, because he's out there greasing pretty good, each and every day," Flaherty said. "Was there mental rust? Was there physical rust? Probably. But I don't see rust anymore. He just has to go out and play. He's excited about the opportunity."

So is Richburg, who has been working at both center and right guard but is a rookie. The Giants think he's great, and drafted him in large part because of their belief that he could handle the center's responsibility in their new offense. But 2013 Justin Pugh notwithstanding, they don't rush rookies here.

"If and when Weston continues to develop, he's going to be a very good offensive lineman," Flaherty said. "But he's got to get in there and grow into that position. There's a sense of urgency about being able to grow into a position, and the only way you're going to be able to do that is if you have an opportunity to play."

Hence, all of the extra reps for the rookie at two positions. If Richburg dazzles the Giants at both, he improves his chances of winning one of the two starting spots.

Right guard

Mosley
With Chris Snee having retired Monday, this is wide open. Flaherty is a fan of John Jerry, but Jerry is still quite limited as he works his way back from knee surgery. So Brandon Mosley has been running with the first team at right guard.

"He has to be consistent," Flaherty said. "Somewhere in your career as a player, you have to get off the waves, and that's the point he's at. There will always be peaks and valleys, but you need to have more peaks than valleys. You have to be consistent as an offensive lineman. (Thursday) I saw more consistency. Those guys are pretty good that we're blocking in practice -- Mike Patterson and Cullen Jenkins. They're as good as there are in the league, and that's a great challenge for a guy like Brandon Mosley."

Guys like Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley, the defensive tackles who await the Giants in Week 1 in Detroit, might dispute Flaherty's assessment. But if Mosley takes advantage of his opportunity, he could get a shot at those guys Sept. 8.

Right tackle

Pugh
After starting 16 games as a rookie in 2013, Pugh projects as the starter at right tackle once again. Flaherty says he's told Pugh that he believes he wasn't 100 percent physically last season and that he needed to get into the weight room and hit it hard this offseason. Pugh apparently took that advice.

"It started in the weight room," Flaherty said. "His approach these past few months, starting back in February, has been a difference. I saw it for the first time when he came back. He was stronger. He weighs more, but more importantly he's stronger. And what he has between his ears in terms of wanting to be good, that's always going to be there. He wants to be the best at his position."
You used the #nygmail hashtag on Twitter this week, and I thank you for it.

@DanGrazianoESPN: Let's assume, for the sake of this discussion, that middle linebacker Jon Beason does not make it back from his foot injury to play for the New York Giants in Week 1 in Detroit. If that is the case (as seems likely), then Jameel McClain is the front-runner to start at middle linebacker.

At this point, the starters on the outside would be Spencer Paysinger and Jacquian Williams, but rookie fifth-rounder Devon Kennard impressed coaches in the spring program and could be in the mix to start on the strong side. What's interesting to me is that linebackers coach Eric Hermann had a lot to say Thursday about the improvement Williams has shown as a weakside linebacker in the Giants' base defense. They already love him on the weak side in their nickel package due to his speed and coverage ability. But if they like him there in the base as well, Williams might be ahead of Paysinger to start there even once Beason returns and McClain moves back to the strong side. So to answer your question, I'd expect to see McClain in the middle, Williams on the weak side and either Paysinger or, if he has a big camp, Kennard on the strong side in Week 1.

@DanGrazianoESPN: No. I mean, obviously the short answer is no at this point, because Ryan Nassib, who didn't play at all as a rookie (by design) is still a work in progress.

Giants coaches like his progress. Quarterbacks coach Danny Langsdorf on Thursday praised Nassib's intelligence and his ability to pick up the new system but said he's still got to work on his accuracy and his timing. Which is understandable, given that he's still a young quarterback who's never played in the league. It's clear they view him as the No. 2 right now behind Eli Manning -- or that they're at least giving him every chance to beat out Curtis Painter for that spot in camp. But no, if Manning got hurt, at this point the Giants would not have honest confidence in Nassib or anyone else who might replace him.

Manning costs the Giants 17 percent of their salary cap. He's the player around whom their team is built. If they don't have him, they simply won't be a remotely competitive team. Even if Nassib comes quickly in camp and becomes a viable No. 2, there's no chance that, in 2014, he offers anything close to what Manning offers as a starting NFL quarterback. All the Giants want from Nassib is continued growth and development, and their hope is that he's a decent backup/emergency option this year and maybe more down the road.

@DanGrazianoESPN: I agree that the Giants' defensive line is questionable behind the starters, and that there's a chance it could be a bad defensive line. They desperately need Jason Pierre-Paul to stay healthy and dominate from the defensive end position, because honestly they're not going to get much pass rush from the other side at this point. Mathias Kiwanuka and Robert Ayers are what they are, and they're not the kinds of defensive ends who are going to whip tackles regularly and pile up sacks. And Damontre Moore is still developing.

On the inside, you mention Cullen Jenkins, and I agree he's key because he's the one guy in there who's not a question mark. Coaches were raving this week about the development defensive tackles Johnathan Hankins and Markus Kuhn have shown, and if so then that's a positive thing for them and for the Giants. But there's no way to know until they can practice in pads and play against other teams what they really have in there. To me, the Giants are hoping a lot of people -- namely, Hankins, Kuhn, Moore, Ayers and Kiwanuka -- outperform anything they've yet shown in the league in order to make them strong on the defensive line. It's not nuts to think one or two of them will, but... all of them?

@DanGrazianoESPN: The first-team offensive line in minicamp was, left to right: Charles Brown, Geoff Schwartz, J.D. Walton, Brandon Mosley, Justin Pugh. Which, no, is not good. They believe Chris Snee could play right guard if he had to right now, but he's working his way back from elbow and hip surgeries and they're taking it slowly with him. And they're also hoping Will Beatty is healthy enough to play left tackle in training camp ahead of Brown, who was signed as a backup. Rookie Weston Richburg is in a straight-up competition with Walton for the starting center spot. So it's possible that by Week 1 it's Beatty/Schwartz/Richburg/Snee/Pugh, which would look a lot better than what they ran out there this week. But as of now, that's your starting five.

Mosley's an interesting case. They like him and think his development has been hurt by injuries. But the fact that Snee and John Jerry (knee surgery) haven't been able to get on the field helped Mosley get a lot of first-team reps this spring. And that can only help him if they need to turn to him to play a starting role in camp, in the preseason or in the season.

Thanks for all of your questions. Enjoy the first weekend of summer. 

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