As the New York Giants approach Friday’s preseason opener against the Miami Dolphins let’s look at five players whose stock has risen during training camp, really since the beginning of the offseason program.
Coach Ben McAdoo acknowledged Monday what had pretty much became obvious as far back as OTAs — third-round pick Darian Thompson is likely to be the starting free safety. McAdoo used the word “probably,” but Thompson has taken almost all of the first-team reps since early in OTAs. Thus, there hasn’t been much mystery.
Talent always impresses, but what impresses coaches even more is professionalism and work ethic. Thompson has displayed those since he walked in the Giants’ door for rookie minicamp.
“He's a young pro. He's a guy that goes about his business the right way; he's done it since he walked into the building. He's mature, he studies his game, he communicates the game. We expect him to get better with reps,” McAdoo said.
GM Jerry Reese called the selection of Shepard in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft “an easy pick for us.” Reese said Shepard was “ready to play right now,” and he has been correct.
Shepard has done nothing to disappoint, and the excitement around what he might bring to the offense has continued to build. At this point, the only question is have the expectations for Shepard grown to be unrealistic?
As we wrote the other day, Pierre-Paul has passed every test thus far as he tries to prove he can return to dominance despite his damaged right hand. His hand has held up well throughout contact practices, he has been a handful for the offensive line and he has shown maturity and a willingness to lead that had not existed prior to his fireworks accident.
“He is an energizer bunny out there on the field. He is the one that is always bringing the energy. Even on walkthroughs, he is going full speed,” said first-round pick Eli Apple. “He is a funny guy off the field and he is definitely the man around here, so I am just trying to pick up everything from him that he tells me to do, and I just make sure to do it full speed like him.”
An undrafted free agent from Campbell, which has never produced an NFL player, Milhouse ran with the first team for a few days when Damon Harrison began camp on the PUP list.
The Giants have an unsettled situation at defensive tackle behind starters Harrison and Johnathan Hankins. Milhouse, obviously, has to produce during the preseason games. Right now, though, it looks like he has a shot at grabbing a roster spot.
Maybe this is by default, but Casillas was expected to compete with J.T. Thomas for weak-side linebacker role. Thomas remains on PUP and Casillas appears to now be entrenched in that role. Whenever Thomas comes off PUP I think his chance of re-claiming that spot to open the season may have already vanished.