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Big Blue View Mailbag: Davis Webb, Sterling Shepard, More

The players are on vacation, but Big Blue View never rests

NFL: New York Giants-Rookie Minicamp
Davis Webb
William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

With mandatory mini-camp concluded and the New York Giants now on their summer vacation, it is time once again to open up the Big Blue View mailbag. Some of our questions this week are left over ones I did not answer during a Facebook Live chat following one of this week’s practices.

Sean McKeon asks: How much less of a factor [will] Sterling Shepard be on offense now that Evan Engram will be lined up in the slot?

Ed says: Sean, I can’t say for sure that he will be less of a factor at all. We really don’t know. There are only so many completions to go around, and someone is going to lose receptions off their career numbers. I’m not sure that will be Shepard. It might be Brandon Marshall. It might be Shane Vereen and the running backs. I would not expect Engram to be lined up in the slot all the time — he will get moved around. I also wouldn’t expect monster numbers from the rookie — again, only so many receptions to go around.

Ted Marsden asks: Why isn’t D.J. Fluker being given a even chance to win either the RG OR RT spot?

Ed says: Ted, I really can’t say that he eventually won’t get that opportunity. Thus far, he has only worked at right guard. The Giants have said that’s where they like him, and that he will get some “just in case” reps at right tackle during training camp. In all honesty, I am surprised the Giants didn’t put him into competition at right tackle with Bobby Hart, but that’s the choice they have made. My guess is that unless there is injury, Hart and John Jerry start while Fluker is veteran depth.

Tryquest Johnson asks: Who do you think will be our 4th wideout?

Ed says: Well, Try, that’s an interesting question. I think I’m more convinced of who it won’t be than of who it will be. I’m pretty convinced that it won’t be Roger Lewis Jr. Even before his arrest in Ohio for OVI, Lewis seemed to have been bypassed on the depth chart by Tavarres King. The Giants under-utilized King a year ago, and I think they know it. I think King and Dwayne Harris make the team as the fourth and fifth wide receivers. If the Giants keep six, don’t be surprised if Lewis loses out to either Darius Powe (practice squad last season) or undrafted free agent rookie Travis Rudolph.

Zach Mahoney asks: Are there any thoughts that Odell just wanted to do extra training on his own when he missed OTAs? Everyone is just assuming his absence from OTAs is contract related.

Ed says: Thanks for the question, Zach. Some will want to believe I’m answering this one just to get Odell Beckham Jr. into the discussion — again. That, though, isn’t why. It raises a chance to talk about something interesting.

That is that due to the rules of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the time constraints teams have with their players the individual work players do is far more grueling, and beneficial to their conditioning, than what they do during OTAs or mandatory mini-camp. Many of these guys have personal trainers or go to specialized facilities to work on their bodies and work on their craft in a way they just can’t during a football practice.

That work really is beneficial. Still, you would like to see everyone show up when the time gets together, voluntary or not.

Ronald Davis asks: Does Darian Thompson look recovered?

Ed says: Thanks, Ronald. Thompson has looked good, although he missed the mandatory mini-camp with what coach Ben McAdoo said was an illness. So, too, did cornerback Eli Apple. The Giants have been careful with Thompson this spring, letting him work but not asking him to do too much. He split first-team reps with Andrew Adams during OTAs. We will learn a whole lot more about Thompson during training camp and the preseason.

Ed says: Right now? Before the 2017 season? Not a chance, Jose. First of all, let’s clarify one thing. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is entering the fourth year of his five-year deal. He will be a Giant in 2018 ... unless the organization decides to cut him to save salary cap space. The Giants could save a hefty $6.5 million against the cap by cutting Rodgers-Cromartie after this season.

There’s no way you give DRC a new contract now. He’s a 31-year-old corner who relies on his speed. That’s an age where players begin to decline, especially ones who rely on their legs and have had some nagging injuries like Rodgers-Cromartie has. It’s why the Giants drafted Eli Apple.

The Giants have contracts to worry about with Odell Beckham Jr., Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg and maybe Devon Kennard if they want him back after the 2017 season. With DRC, you wait, see how this year plays out, then make a decision.

My guess? It’s more likely than not that this is DRC’s final season with the Giants. Unless he is willing to take a pretty drastic pay cut.

Dustin Bailey asks: I know word around town is that Davis Webb is 4th on the QB depth chart. Is that mostly because of lack of experience or talent at this point? If its b/c of experience & Giants ignored that fact would he have a shot at being #3 or even #2 QB?

Ed says: Dustin, my friend, I’m not sure where that “word around town” came from. The reality is, Webb will be the Giants’ No. 3 quarterback this season. If all goes according to plan, this will be a red-shirt year for him during which he acclimates to the NFL game. The kid has talent — I’ve seen some beautiful throws during early practices I have been able to witness. I have also seen some way off target throws and a good bit of hesitation. The kid has NEVER run a huddle, never played in an offense anywhere near this complicated, never had as much responsibility as an NFL quarterback has. He has a LOT to learn and a long way to go. Veterans Josh Johnson and Geno Smith will compete for the No. 2 job. One will stay, one will go. They won’t both be around.

Ed says: Ooooh, this is a tough question. I am really interested to see what steps forward Eli Apple and Sterling Shepard take. I think, though, the most interesting second-year player is linebacker B.J. Goodson. He is stepping into a role as the signal-caller and middle linebacker for a veteran defense that was really, really good last season. How well he plays, and how accepting his veteran teammates are of his calls — and his mistakes — will be fascinating.

Ira Barnett asks: Would you explain how the practice squad gets paid and if it impacts the salary cap number.

Ed says: Thanks for the question, Ira. I know many people don’t completely understand the practice squad. For the 2017 season, practice squad players will make a minimum of $7,200 per week, an amount set forth in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. That equates to $122,400 if a player spends all 17 weeks of the regular season on a practice squad. Teams can choose to pay players more than the minimum in an effort to entice them to stay, but the practice squad salaries do count against the salary cap. [More about the cap and practice squads]