The first week of Phase Three of the offseason program is in the books for the New York Giants, meaning the offense and defense have been able to work some against each other. Let's look at a few things we learned during the initial workouts.
Offensive line configuration
It is only the end of May and we don't know if this will be the offensive line the Giants open the season with in September, but the configuration they debuted OTAs with after the injury to left tackle Will Beatty certainly was packed with interesting news. The configuration:
LT Ereck Flowers, LG Justin Pugh, OC Weston Richburg, RG Geoff Schwartz, RT Marshall Newhouse
The biggest observation, of course, is that the Giants are going to give Flowers, the rookie first-round pick, the opportunity to show that he can be an NFL left tackle right away. Unless, of course, they sign someone like Jake Long.
The other big observation is that the Giants, as has long been speculated, have made the decision that Pugh, the 2012 first-round pick, should be a guard. They made that decision before the injury to Beatty, and are apparently committed to sticking with that.
Landon Collins looks like a sure starter
The Giants didn't make a move up for Collins in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, surrendering fourth- and seventh-round picks along the way, to watch the former Alabama star sit on the sideline. So far, Collins is making the move look like a good one.
Collins is practicing with the first-team defense, and it seems pretty apparent he will be one of the team's two starting safeties. Watch him in position drills or in his backpedal during 11-on-11 and it's plain to see that he moves more easily than any of the other safeties. Reports from Thursday and Friday, when media did not have access to the workouts, were that Collins made a few plays.
Will he play free safety or strong safety? That is unknown. Right now the Giants are having safeties simply play sides, thus being free or strong based on the offensive formation.
"He can play in the middle of the field," head coach Tom Coughlin said during rookie mini-camp a few weeks ago. "He can play in the deep half as well as come down and be a physical force in the tackle box."
The Giants are thin at offensive tackle
Who starts at the offensive tackle spots isn't the only issue the Giants face along the offensive line. Wth Beatty out and Pugh now a guard, the Giants are dangerously thin at the tackle spot. Newhouse, counted on to be the swing tackle, is right now the starting right tackle. Who are the backups? Who knows?
During Wednesday's OTA the second-team offensive tackles were Emmett Cleary and Michael Bamiro, neither of whom has ever played in an NFL game. Brandon Mosley was a tackle in college, but has been exclusively a guard the past couple of seasons. Rookie Bobby Hart was also a collegiate tackle, but was drafted to play guard. Undrafted free agent Sean Donnelly is another player getting a look at tackle.
So, the Giants' recent interest in Jake Long is not surprising. Whether Long ultimately becomes a Giant or not remains to be seen. Expect the Giants, though, to continue scouring the market and kicking the tires on available offensive tackles. This might even be one of those situations where a veteran player who gets released at the end of the preseason winds up with the Giants.
Because we had yet to see any of them, there were questions about many of the Giants who finished last season with injuries. The news seemed to be good on many fronts.
Wide receiver Victor Cruz is not practicing yet, but Coughlin sounded optimistic.
"He has progressed. He is beyond the straight-ahead stuff. He has started to maneuver and cut. He has come along well," Coughlin said.
Middle linebacker Jon Beason (foot/toe), cornerback Prince Amukamara (biceps) and defensive ends Robert Ayers (pectoral) and Damontre Moore (shoulder) worked fully. At least until Ayers went down with a leg injury that is not believed to be serious. Right guard Geoff Schwartz (broken ankle) is splitting time with John Jerry as he works his way back.
Wide receiver a position battle to watch
We knew this already, to be honest, but the first week of OTAs certainly confirmed it. The Giants have more NFL-caliber receivers than they can possibly keep.
Corey Washington made a brilliant catch on Wednesday with reporters watching, and reportedly also had a couple of nice plays on Thursday. Marcus Harris reportedly had a nice practice on Thursday. Preston Parker is in that mix. Rookie Geremy Davis did a lot of work on Wednesday as a gunner on special teams. Undrafted free agent Ben Edwards was among players getting looks in the punt return, a usual sign with the Giants that they have serious interest in a player.
The competition for the last couple of wide receiver roster spots will be among the most intense when we get to training camp later this year.