Two weeks after signing a one-year, minimum salary contract with the New York Giants for $750,000, Louis Murphy headed to Duke University to work with his new quarterback, Eli Manning, and fellow wide receivers Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. A player with tantalizing talent who has yet to fulfill that promise, Murphy wasted no time grabbing the opportunity he was granted, one that grew thanks to circumstances off the field.
As the Giants began their second round of OTAs on Thursday, Cruz wasn't there, seeking a long-term deal, and neither was Nicks, for reasons known only to himself. Murphy knew he'd get an immediate opportunity to make that dynamite first impression by getting reps normally reserved for the starters, so he took advantage of it. Down at Duke, Murphy ran through seven-on-sevens, the two-minute offense, various play calls and film study. During OTAs, the chemistry between Murphy and Manning was instantaneous. On one play, Murphy couldn't get inside a defensive back. Manning recognized it before Murphy came back towards him and fired a strike; the duo showing a sixth sense not uncommon among the NFL's finest passing-receiving tandems.
"He threw it and he was like, ‘I read your body language. I saw what you were doing,'" Murphy said. "As long as I'm defining my movements, he can read off of it. So that's a plus being able to just be on the same page with him,"
Because Murphy is a burner, the Giants are salivating at the thought of implementing more of a vertical game to their offense. Way ahead of the game since coming to New York, Murphy is eager to make an impact not yet seen since the Oakland Raiders made him a fourth-round pick out of Florida in 2009. Murphy caught 115 passes for 1,707 yards and seven touchdowns in those four seasons for the Raiders and the Carolina Panthers. The speed was there, but not the consistency, and the hope is that Murphy adds that extra dimension to an offense that when fully loaded is among the best in the game.
In his first OTA with the Giants, Murphy burned veteran cornerback Corey Webster to catch a 50-yard bomb from Manning. The fact that Murphy and Manning's rapport is developing so quickly has pleased head coach Tom Coughlin.
"They've made quite a few plays. They really have," Coughlin said. "The receivers are on the same page and he's very confident that they're going to maneuver according to the way they're supposed to and he's been very, very sharp, and he and Murphy have made some plays."
What the Giants have in Murphy is a guy with jack-rabbit speed, one who general manager Jerry Reese called "a knife" and in the early going appears to be the right fit for a downfield passing attack. Manning has gotten it done with Nicks and Cruz, but with both absent, Murphy is getting the chance to flash his potential and show he can bring his brand of spice to East Rutherford, N.J.
The seeds for such success were planted at Duke, which provided Murphy with an immediate advantage.
"He's come in and worked really hard," Manning said. "Back in early April, going over to Duke and working those days and learning the offense and asking questions and being here in the offseason, being there for routes and trying to pick up everything in this offense and so he's got talent.
"He can really run, he can stretch the field and he's got the desire and the commitment to be a good player and to bring another threat to this offense."
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