Good morning, New York Giants fans! Here are some headlines to start your Thursday morning.
Zak DeOssie reflects on time with the Giants
The Big Blue long snapper has seen it all. He's been with New York for the highs and lows, including two Super Bowl championships. DeOssie and Eli Manning are the only two players on the current Giants roster who played in Super Bowl XLII. When DeOssie was drafted in 2007, he was a linebacker by trade with only a handful of experience as a long snapper during his college days at Brown. But, when Ryan Kuehl tore his Achilles in training camp entering that 2007 season, the Giants needed someone who could be a "quick fix." Eight years later, DeOssie was more than a quick fix -- he's become a fixture within the franchise.
"You look around the NFL, there’s not too many long snappers who are team captains,’’ Giants punter Steve Weatherford said. "That says a lot about him as far as a football player but more importantly as a person, as a leader. He’s what being a Giant is all about.’’
In eight seasons, the 31-year-old DeOssie has yet to miss a game. The longtime long snapper has been a constant on the field and in the locker room.
"I’ll do whatever they tell me to do,’’ DeOssie told The New York Post in an expansive reflection on his career. "They want me to stand on my head … I just love this place and every year I get under my belt, I’m just fortunate, very fortunate...I'd love to play here forever."
Giants players reflect on putting the pads back on again
All spring – and every spring – the coaches say they can’t fully evaluate the linemen until they put the pads on. That process started Sunday when they wore shoulder pads for the first of two practices. Wednesday, they wore full pads. And for the first time, practice included a 9-on-7 run/run-stopping drill with live hitting.
"They’re competitive, you don’t want to lose, especially when you have 9-on-7 and those types of drills," guard Geoff Schwartz said. "That’s what we do -- we run the ball and stop the run, so it’s pretty intense. We get after it a little bit more. I definitely think our position has to be evaluated with pads on. Our job is to be physical and to move people. The only way you can do that is to practice in pads."
"It was a lot of fun," defensive tackle Kenrick Elis said. "We finally get to be physical without remorse, attacking and stuff. We’re the big guys, so we pride ourselves on being physical. When the pads come on, that’s what we do, we’re physical. It’s like gladiators now, battling to the death out there."
That attitude also prevails in the one-one-one pass block/pass rush drills that become more intense when the pads go on.
"In the OTA’s, we don’t have pads on, we can’t really touch each other," defensive end George Selvie said. "So when you get the pads on, you’ve got to get physical and get ready for the season. It’s going to ramp up a little bit. Tempers are going to flare. You got to see who’s a man, how he’s going to dominate, and how good you are. So you know it’s going to get intense when you put the pads on."
"It’s a big day, because we get to get that first jolt of hitting somebody in the mouth," right tackle Marshall Newhouse said. "That’s just what we’re trying to do and these first days everybody is a little rusty. You don’t walk around 365 days with pads on, so this is our acclimation period of what that feels like and working with the guy next to us. And you’re going against the defensive guy who’s also trying to hit you in your pads. So a lot of good, a lot of aggression, a lot stuff we can work on. But it’s work, and we’re trying to make little baby steps every day."
Wide receiver James Jones, who agreed to join the Giants last week, signed a contract worth the veteran's minimum. He can earn up to $950,000 with the Giants this season.
Jameel McClain, the Giants' leading tackler last season, went down in the first padded practice Wednesday with what Tom Coughlin called a "stinger."
Around the NFL
The Eagles have signed underrated free-agent linebacker Diaheem Watkins after placing Travis Long on injured reserve due to a torn ACL. Watkins played for UAB, which will not have a college football team this season.
Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd suffered not one, not two, but three dislocated fingers in his left hand during practice on Wednesday. He is expected to miss four weeks and possibly Week 1 of the regular season.