Linebacker Michael Boley said Monday that he isn't surprised at the number of younger, untested players who have played well for the Giants so far this season.
"Seeing these guys in training camp and during the season, I am not really surprised at some of the things they are doing," Boley said. "We have some guys who have flown under the radar so to speak and they have stepped up and been big for us."
One of those players, of course, has been tight end Jake Ballard. The undrafted free agent out of Ohio State has 23 catches, three for touchdowns, and is averaging 17.2 yards per reception.
"I am not surprising myself. I know that a lot of people who doubted me are surprised at where I am right now but I am not surprised. I work hard every day and try to get better. I learned when I was two years old, just to keep pushing," Ballard said.
The 6-foot-6, 275-pound tight end took some heavy hits Sunday while making catches, and basically shrugged them off.
"I don't even think about that. People will get some shots at me and that is football. You may get hit hard but you just have to make sure you get up for the next play," Ballard said. "That doesn't even come into my mind when I am running around. All I am thinking about is catching the football. As long as I catch it, I am not worried about what happens afterwards."
Here are some other Giants-related notes from around the Inter-Google this morning.
The San Francisco 49ers are legitimate Super Bowl contenders. The NFC West is the worst division in football and maybe the worst we've seen in a decade or two, and the fact that the Niners have played only two teams with winning records to date — Cincinnati and Detroit — on their way to a 7-1 start is going to make the record look a little better than it really is. But move past that and consider the other facts.
San Francisco will have to hit a major slump to finish any worse than second in the NFC, with the Giants, Ravens and Steelers the only winning teams on their schedule the rest of the way, which means a week off and at least one home game in the playoffs. Jim Harbaugh is new and fresh and clearly still has plenty to learn, but he is also a really good football coach who already knows how to win and whose players love playing for him. And most importantly, these guys are loaded with talent!
Eleven of the 49ers' 22 starters are first-round draft choices, and seven — Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis(notes), Braylon Edwards(notes), Alex Smith, Justin Smith(notes), Carlos Rogers(notes) and Donte Whitner(notes) — were top-10 picks, with a ninth and a 10th, Anthony Davis and Patrick Willis(notes), having been selected 11th in the first round. All in all, San Francisco has drafted 16 of its 22 starters and P Andy Lee(notes) (sixth round), who is among the NFL leaders in punting. The Niners are young but extremely talented. They learn more every week about both how to win and just how good they are, clearly are gaining confidence by the bucketful and may very well be headed for a classic NFC title matchup with Green Bay.
So yes, the Giants currently lead the NFC East by two games, and yes they are among the biggest surprises in the NFL. But are they just getting everyone’s hopes up again, setting the stage for another winter of disappointment?
"Not this time, man," Umenyiora said. "We’ve been through that too many times. There’s going to be no collapses."
Coach Rex Ryan praised the Giants' performance in their 24-20 win at New England — and said he wouldn't mind paying the cross-town rivals back at some point.
"It shows the kind of team the Giants have," Ryan said. "That’s an excellent football team, because you don’t beat New England unless you're a heck of a football team. Especially there, they’ve won like 20 games in a row in the regular season. (The Giants) have got a lot of heart, three offensive starters out and found ways to win. They won that game for themselves, without question. But I will say this: if we can, I’d like to pay them back. That certainly helped us as well."