It was an intense, jam-packed two days of football drills, but it also gave us a first glimpse into what’s yet to come from the New York Giants Class of 2018.
Read on for a few quick takes from the Giants two-day rookie minicamp.
Pat Shurmur is rebuilding the Giants culture
It doesn’t take an insider to know that last season, the 3-13 Giants had some culture issues that resulted in in-fighting, multiple suspensions and other issues that just made a bad situation worse.
Head coach Pat Shurmur, to eradicate the stench of that decaying culture, got on the problem right away.
While not quite Tom Coughlin-like in his approach to where he’s micromanaging everything that goes on in the football program, Shurmur spoke about how he expects the players to get back to the “Giants Way.”
“I think what’s important is — and I’ve talked to the staff, I’ve talked to our current players — we want to teach our rookies the right way from the very beginning,” he said. “Here is your iPad, here is your locker, here is where you need to be, here is how you need to dress, here are the fields, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ work, push in your chair.
“We want to really train these guys in the New York Giants’ way and I think it’s every facet of their life and then, certainly what is most obvious, football.”
Coughlin, remember, was a stickler for little details like these, so much so that when he first came in as head coach in 2004, he initially alienated a bunch of players who had become used to a more relaxed work environment under Jim Fassel.
Eventually the players came around, especially after Coughlin’s way proved to work. Shurmur, who doesn’t have Coughlin’s resume, has been trying to find the right blend between being an authoritative figure but also being open and accessible to his young locker room.
So far, so good.
“The veterans have gotten a good feel for it. They got a five-week lead on these guys, and I think what’s important is to be very professional in every facet of your life,” Shurmur said.
“We want guys obviously that understand how important it is to have relationships, whether it’s in the building or being coachable and we want guys that are good teammates and certainly guys that love football. So, we’re looking for those kinds of guys and I think we have to live that life in our building.”
Along those lines, Shurmur admitted he wasn’t happy with safety Landon Collins for airing Ereck Flowers’ dirty laundry in public.
“That’s not for Landon to talk about,” Shurmur said. “Let’s let Ereck talk for Ereck when he gets here. But really, I don’t think our players should be talking about another player’s situation.”
Saquon Barkley serious About Being the Best
In case you had any doubts about running back Saquon Barkley being a little “too good to be true” based on what he’s said in press conferences, Barkley is indeed very serious about fulfilling general manager Dave Gettleman’s dream of seeing the team’s first round draft pick in a gold jacket one day.
To accomplish that, Barkley said he doesn’t want to wait until he’s in his third our fourth year to “get it;” he wants to get it starting right now.
So far, he’s done just that. He revealed that he was able to break down the team, presumably during the Friday morning walk-through. And he wants to lead by example by, among other things, being the first one in and the last one out.
He did just that for Friday’s practice. Barkley was among the first guys out to the practice field, sprinting across the distance to the far end of the facility’s practice grounds. After practice, he made sure he was the last one to leave the field by hanging round after the team had been dismissed to catch passes from a teammate before heading inside.
The body guard
Second-round pick Will Hernandez is a man-mountain of a human being who has a natural sense of humor, a humbled demeanor and a soft-spoken voice.
That is until someone, specifically an opposing defender, tries to get by him to mess with his guys.
Hernandez isn’t having any of that so long as he’s on the field and joked (maybe) that anyone who wanted to get to running back Saquon Barkley would have to go through him first.
“Yeah you see I just try to tell him to follow me wherever I go,” Hernandez said with a chuckle. “I’ll wait for him to get his food and then he’ll walk behind me.”
If that’s how he feels about Barkley, imagine how protective the former UTEP offensive lineman is likely to be when it comes to quarterback Eli Manning.
Hernandez, by the way, took most of his snaps in this camp at left guard, though he did flip over to the right side for a few snaps, most of those coming on run-blocking plays.
R.J. McIntosh sits out
The last thing anyone wants to see is a member of the rookie draft class on the sideline even before he has a chance to go through a practice. Yet that’s what happened when fifth-round pick R.J. McIntosh was spotted on the sideline sans his shells and helmet.
A spokesperson for the Giants said that McIntosh has a “mild medical condition” for which he’s being treated, and that the hope is that the former Miami Hurricane will be cleared to resume activities “soon.”
Unfortunately, “soon” can mean in the next few days or the next week. McIntosh, like his fellow rookies, has already missed the first five weeks of the Giants offseason program.
McIntosh, who refused to shed any light as to the exact nature of his ailment, said he was hopeful of being ready by training camp, if not sooner.
Still, while there is only so much one can catch up on in the classroom, if his “mild medical condition” keeps him out for too long, he’s probably going to have even more of an uphill battle to climb in getting caught up with the field work being done.
Kyle Lauletta wants to fe frenemies with Davis Webb
Rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta didn’t work his tail off to get drafted by an NFL team only to sit idly by while his prime playing years zoomed by him.
While Lauletta, the Giants’ fourth-round pick, understands the 2018 Giants team belongs to Eli Manning, the former Richmond passer is looking to grow each day into an NFL passer to where he can ultimately compete with Davis Webb, drafted in the third-round last year, for the right to one day succeed Manning.
“Obviously I have high aspirations and confidence in myself and my abilities. I’m just going to perform and be the best teammate, the best player I can be and however the coaches see fit where I am on the depth chart or whatever, that’s up to them.”
One thing Lauletta isn’t planning to do is freeze out Webb. Even though there can only be one No. 2 guy behind Manning, Lauletta doesn’t exactly see the competition as, well, a competition.
“I don’t really see it like that and I don’t think Davis does either,” he said. “We’re all in this together, we’re all in the same boat learning a new offense so we’ll definitely be close and be friends and help each other out as best as we can.”
Yeah, but eventually someone is going to have to pull ahead in the race, right?
“As who’s the back-up and stuff of course both of us are going to compete and both of us are going to try to earn that spot, but that’s so far ahead in the future I just don’t think it’s worth even thinking about right now,” Lauletta said.
Lauletta, in case you’re wondering, had a mixed bag in the two practices. He looked much sharper in the first day and more erratic in the second, that day seeing him throw several passes too high.
Still, Shurmur likes what he’s seen from the rookie signal caller so far.
“I thought he did a really good job. You can tell by the way he handles his business that he’s going to be able to pick everything up very quickly,” he said.
“He’s very smart, he’s in the building early, he was here late, and he understands how to study, so to speak. When he’s on the field here when you’re coaching him and a lot of times in coaching, it’s kind of like a quick drive by, you want to make a point and keep moving, he’s able to take it in and run with it.”
Music calms the beast
Edge rusher Lorenzo Carter comes to the Giants having had a reputation in college as a pass rushing terror who, despite his low career sack totals, made things happen for his teammates.
When Carter finishes taking care of business on the field, his go-to relaxation method is none other than listening to classical music, which he said he first grew to appreciate when he was in the fifth grade.
“I started to play the cello and it stuck with me,” he said. “I love the sound of wood instruments, and I just fell in love with classical music.”
Carter joked that he would have to talk to somebody in the organization regarding getting some classical music on the playlist that Shurmur treats the players to during the early part of practice.
Well, someone must have gotten the hint because later that day, a classical number did in fact show up on the play-list, right after a Mother’s Day reminder by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys.”
Rookie Minicamp Studs
It’s only rookies vs. rookies and there was no contact allowed in the rookie camp. However, there were a few guys outside of the draft picks who stood out for all the right reasons.
Here are my top three UDFA or tryout “studs:”
CB Grant Haley, 5-9, 190 pounds, Penn State
Haley (pictured above) comes to the Giants as an undrafted free agent, a player whom they wanted so much that they shelled out a $100K deal with a $25K signing bonus, according to Matt Lombardo of NJ Advance Media.
Haley isn’t a very big cornerback, but he’s a play-maker who did a nice job of staying on the hips of the receivers he was assigned to cover and breaking up passes.
Haley, who picked off at least one pass in the first practice, is going to compete for the slot cornerback spot and maybe more come this summer
C Evan Brown, 6-2, 302 pounds, SMU
Brown, another undrafted free agent, was by far one of the most polished looking offensive linemen during the drills run. He’s so polished in fact that he was able to snap the ball and then shoot his hands up into the blocking pad, placing them exactly on the mark, in a split second.
Brown can best be described as “undersized” by he’s extremely intelligent, has a good grasp of the position despite only having played it for two years in school, and seemed to orchestrate the line calls like he’s been doing it for years.
TE Garrett Dickerson, 6-2, 244 pounds, Northwestern
The Englewood, N.J. native was in Giants camp on a tryout basis, but through a steady showing as a receiver and by demonstrating proficiency in blocking drills, Dickerson caught Shurmur’s eye to where an invitation to come to the Giants training camp could be in the not-too-distant future.
“Could be, yeah, and we’ll have to decide as we go,” he said. “I think what is important to remember, too, is this isn’t a tryout and then they do or don’t make it and then it’s over.
“I think the players need to understand they’re here because we saw something that we really liked in them and as we work with them, even though the 90-man roster might look a little bit different tomorrow, those guys are on the list of guys that we might consider moving forward. So, he may be one of those guys.”