EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Darius Powe on Tuesday received a precious gift for a young player trying to prove he deserves a 53-man roster spot. The New York Giants’ second-year wide receiver got some first-team reps during Tuesday’s padded practice, and had Eli Manning send the ball in his direction a few times.
“Definitely nice,” Powe said after practice. “Feels good to get reps with the ones.”
The first-team reps could be a sign that Powe, who spent the 2016 season on the Giants’ practice squad, has moved to the head of the line among the young receivers competing for what could be one final roster spot.
Powe had a nice spring and has followed that up with a good start to training camp. He worked himself open and caught several passes Tuesday, including a couple from Manning.
Powe, who came to the Giants as an undrafted free agent from Cal, narrowly missed making the 53-man roster a season ago. The Giants chose Roger Lewis Jr. instead, with Powe landing on the practice squad.
“I really didn’t want to ask [why],” Powe said. “I just took it as he did better in preseason. Didn’t really ask questions.”
Instead, Powe just went to work. After a couple of weeks on the practice squad, where players tend to come and go quickly, he had a revelation.
“After a couple weeks I’m noticing everybody’s coming and going, I’m staying,” Powe said. “It felt like they had a little trust in me to get better and show stuff next year.”
To show stuff this year, Powe dropped five pounds at the team’s request. The 6-foot-3 Powe is now 216 pounds after playing at 221 last year.
“I definitely feel a lot better with the weight,” Powe said. “Little quicker. Don’t get tired as fast.”
Powe was happy with how practice went on Tuesday.
“I feel like I play better with pads on, anyway, so I was waiting for pads. I don’t really like OTAs and stuff like that. Don’t have pads on, I don’t feel like I can do what I can do with pads on physical-wise.,” Powe said.
“I don’t really feel the contact that I do create. Might bother the DB, but it doesn’t really bother me.”
Powe has been learning from the Giants’ other big-bodied wide receiver, veteran Brandon Marshall.
“I’ve been watching hims since I was little,” Powe said.
Marshall recently told a story about one of his young teammates telling him he had been watching him play since the younger player was in middle school. Powe said it wasn’t him.
“That wasn’t me. I didn’t let him know that I’ve been watching,” Powe said with a laugh.
Powe knows he will not only have to catch some passes during preseason games, but will need to make an impression on special teams as well in order to make the roster.
“When the ball comes you have to make the play, can’t mess that up. If the ball’s not coming, just getting open and doing the right assignments, And special teams,” he said.
If he can do those things, the Giants’ faith in him might be rewarded with a 53-man roster spot.