New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo says OTAs are for teaching and learning, not necessarily for player evaluation. Yet, when a player really stands out, even in these non-contact practices with players running around in their underwear, it is hard not to notice.
Such is the case with cornerback Michael Hunter. If there was a single standout defender from the trio of OTA practices media was able to watch, that would be Hunter. The second-year player, a former undrafted free agent, blanketed receivers in each practice, batting away several passes thrown in his direction.
Let’s take a closer look at Hunter as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the Giants’ 90-man roster.
2016 Season In Review
After finishing his collegiate career at Oklahoma State, Hunter got an opportunity with the Giants. He impressed enough during training camp and the preseason that he was added to the team’s practice squad. Hunter was promoted to the active roster early in the season after Mykkele Thompson was placed on injured reserve.
Hunter played sparingly in two games, getting 17 defensive snaps. After surrendering a 29-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers to Davante Adams in his second game, Hunter was cut and returned to the practice squad. He spent the remainder of the season there.
What did Hunter learn from the two games he played, and his first season in general?
“It’s a fast-paced game, you have to be comfortable in the system, know all the checks, know all the plays,” he said. “If you can do that and play fast and study the game you’ll be OK.”
2017 Season Outlook
Hunter is competing with Donte Deayon, Valentino Blake, Mykkele Thompson and any veteran corners the Giants might sign before the season starts for a role as a reserve corner and special teams player.
The 24-year-old told me there is “no doubt” he is better prepared to fill that role this time around.
“Just the experience alone. The mentors like DRC and Jackrabbit, just leaning on their shoulder and asking for help all offseason,” Hunter said. “What they need me to work on, what they think I should work on helped out a lot.
“Those are All-Pro corners. Guys with that much experience and knowledge of the game you can’t do nothing but surround yourself and embrace it and learn from them every day.”
Hunter spent his offseason back home in Louisiana working out four times a week to hone his technique.
“That’s the most important thing in this league. That’s something you always have to be able to fall back on is technique,” Hunter said. “You’re going to face guys that have great talent. You’ve gotta remember technique is the most important thing. My trainer and Coach [Tim] Walton, who’s a great cornerback coach, basically harped it every day.”
Hunter said that mostly he tried to improve as a press corner, since “We’re up there 24/7 I feel like.”
The 6-foot Hunter also added about five pounds to his frame and said he is 193 to 194 pounds.
“Definitely put on a little muscle mass, gained a little weight, still running very good,” Hunter said. “I think that’s going to play a big part this season as well.”
With Trevin Wade and Leon Hall not being brought back it certainly would appear there is space on the roster for at least one of the young corners currently competing for a job. Hunter’s spring has certainly given him an inside track toward grabbing a roster spot, even if we aren’t supposed to be evaluating at this time of year.