Brandon Myers, a veteran tight end new to the New York Giants, saw his opening. The coverage was blown and Myers slipped behind the defense to catch a touch pass from Eli Manning for a gain of more than 50 yards. The goal of this drill was for the offense to get into field-goal range, so even though Myers was caught by safety Stevie Brown, Sunday practice had reached its conclusion.
Another season, yet another tight end for Manning and the Giants offense. But besides earning points for an early end to practice, Myers offered a glimpse of how the tight end could again be an impact position for Big Blue. The early signs of potential has left tight ends coach Mike Pope impressed.
"In Brandon Myers, we've got a guy from the Raiders for whom this is the fifth offensive system he's played in," Pope said. "Coming here, you'd think "he's played in the NFL," but he came in here with just the right attitude and gets mad at himself when he doesn't execute things the way he knows they should be done. So we do have guys that are helping each other and coaching each other a little bit along the way."
First it was Kevin Boss, then Jake Ballard followed by Martellus Bennett, and now it's Myers, listed as starter on the first unofficial depth chart of camp. A sixth-round pick by the Oakland Raiders in 2009, Myers spent four seasons wearing silver and black. Last year's 79 receptions (with 806 yards and four touchdowns) ranked fourth in the NFL behind Jason Witten (110), Tony Gonzalez (93) and Jimmy Graham (85).
Myers signed with the Giants as a free agent during the offseason and it hasn't taken him long to reap the benefits of the Eli Effect.
"It's great," Myers said. "He's been there, he's proved it; you know, if you're on the same page as him, he's going to find you, and that's what we've kind of been building, the same page, and like I was saying earlier hopefully when it's third down, or something like that, if you can do it in practice, he's going to trust you in the game, so that's my job as a tight end.
"To be an all-around tight end has always been what I've strived to be. Catches are nice and whatever, but if you can be out there every down, run play, pass play, blocking, you're blocking some pretty big guys, so I've always tried to stay on the field and not be a situational tight end, but an every down tight end."
Depth, however, is a question mark. Bear Pascoe -- currently playing some fullback as an injury replacement for Henry Hynoski -- is the second stringer with just 26 catches in four NFL seasons. At third string is the unproven Adrien Robinson, but the Giants are intrigued with Robinson's freakish athleticism that compelled them to draft him in the fourth round in 2012. Also listed are rookie free agents Jamie Childers and Chase Clement along with Larry Donnell, a Giants practice-squad player last season.
Pope's intent is to get Robinson on the field, but Pascoe is also a critical player due to his experience.
"Bear Pascoe's been a vital part of this, because he is the only guy here really who has playing time," Pope said. "Lose him and Hynoski early in our spring camps, and so Bear goes to fullback, but he's still able to play tight end and all those other positions. Because he's been through it, he can work with these young guys. He's a real valuable asset. We take these young guys and try to grow them up."
If Myers plays up to and beyond his numbers, the Giants will enjoy another productive season at tight end. It's what happens when Myers is off the field -- or perhaps nursing an injury -- that will be a key storyline in 2013.
"So, how fast can those guys grow? The faster they grow, the more effective we're going to be," Pope said. "I do think we have, size-wise, the biggest group I've ever worked with. These guys are 278, 280, 282, and they can run fairly well. We haven't had that around here since I've been here (1982), so that should add to our running game on the edge, and should enable us to block some of these defensive ends and some of these outside linebackers that are in this league now.
"Hopefully, with the quickness and speed of our running backs, that can be a huge contribution: the way we block the edge of the offense and are more effective in the run game."
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