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Giants mini-camp practice takeaways: New names entering third wide receiver competition

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Here is what we learned on Wednesday

NFL: Washington Redskins at New York Giants
Hunter Sharp celebrates a play in a late-season game in 2017.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants completed their second mandatory mini-camp practice Wednesday. They practice again Thursday morning, then players are off until training camp. Here are some takeaways.

Third wide receiver competition heats up

Who is going to be the Giants’ No. 3 wide receiver. It is clear that they will have Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard on the field. When they use a third wide receiver, who that will be is less clear.

Cody Latimer, acquired via free agency from the Denver Broncos, appears to be the favorite. Watch out, though, for Hunter Sharp and Amba Etta-Tawo. Sharp continued an excellent spring with a couple of nice catches on Wednesday. He has the advantage of also being a punt and kickoff returner. Second-year man Etta-Tawo had a good day. He didn’t make any noticeable plays on Wednesday, but did get a couple of first-team reps.

Who didn’t practice

Odell Beckham Jr. and Landon Collins did work early in practice, but neither participated in the team drills.

For the second straight day, safety Darian Thompson and defensive end Josh Mauro rode the stationary bikes and did not practice. Rookie defensive end R.J. McIntosh and second-year edge player Avery Moss also did not participate, though Moss did do some agility drills with a trainer. Running back Paul Perkins was spotted on the bikes, as well.

Starting lineups

These have remained pretty consistent in recent days. Here they are.

Offense

QB — Eli Manning; RB — Saquon Barkley; TE — Rhett Ellison; TE — Evan Engram; WR — Sterling Shepard; WR — Cody Latimer; LT — Nate Solder; LG — Will Hernandez; C — Jon Halapio; RG — Patrick Omameh; RT — Ereck Flowers

The Giants haven’t committed to anything, but it is becoming clearer that their base alignment will include both Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison.

Defense

DE — Dalvin Tomlinson; DT — Damon Harrison; DE — B.J. Hill; LB — Olivier Vernon; LB Alec Ogletree; LB — B.J. Goodson; LB — Kareem Martin; CB — Janoris Jenkins; CB — Eli Apple; S — Andrew Adams; S — Curtis Riley

The biggest surprise on defense has to be the emergence of Curtis Riley as a contender at free safety. Riley played 11 games as a cornerback for the Tennessee Titans the past two seasons.

NOTE: These lineups, of course, don’t include Odell Beckham Jr. and Landon Collins. William Gay has been the starting slot cornerback.

Torching those linebackers

Over the past two days, the Giants’ offense has used its running backs to exploit the team’s linebackers down the field in pass coverage. Tuesday, Saquon Barkley torched B.J. Goodson for a long play on what appeared to be a wheel route. On Wednesday, Barkley blew past Olivier Vernon to catch a long pass from Eli Manning and Wayne Gallman beat Romeo Okwara for a big gain on a throw from Davis Webb.

That’s a good news/bad news deal. Good news that the Giants are attacking down field with their running backs. Bad news that Vernon and Okwara, converting to outside linebacker, had no real chance in pass coverage.

Koehn’s turn to kick

Aldrick Rosas went 8-for-8 in field-goal attempts on Tuesday. Wednesday, Marshall Koehn got his turn and went 7-for-8. He yanked his first kick, a short one, wide left but then made seven straight.

Mike Shula on working with Eli Manning

Offensive coordinator Mike Shula spoke to media on Wednesday, and was asked about his working relationship with Eli Manning.

“We talk in our profession about coming to work every day, being the same guy, having the guys around you know what to expect from you and he’s the true example of that. He’s really worked hard to learn this offense as fast as anybody and again, not just to learn it but to learn all the adjustments,” Shula said. “He’s got such a good feel of what he knows we’re going to have to make moving forward even though sometimes we might not have even talked about them here already because it’s just our defense. But all that being said, his timing is good, he’s been accurate, he knows how to find guys if number one isn’t open and those are all things that hopefully he will continue to improve on and he will probably be the first to tell you that he needs to continue to improve and get better for us to keep taking steps.”

As for Manning being 37, that doesn’t seem to bother Shula.

“Well, we’re not going to run Q-power, but other than that, he’s been good. As we know, the guys that are at his age and are playing are in it for a reason, because they understand where they’re at in their careers, they understand their bodies, they understand what they have to get done – Drew Brees, Roethlisberger, Philip Rivers, those guys. Tom Brady is obviously almost in a different class all by himself even being a few years older,” Shula said. “And Eli is a perfect example that they get that and they know that and their minds are really fast. If there is anything that he maybe lacks because he is a little bit older, he makes up because of his mind being so fast.”

James Bettcher on building defensive mindset

“That doesn’t happen unless players buy in and players believe. That doesn’t happen unless guys are willing to come and to be here and be present when it’s voluntary,” Bettcher said. “That’s one thing I can say about our guys here. Our players have had their hands in the pile, they’ve been working extremely hard.

“We’ve asked a lot of them, both from a mental standpoint and frrom an effort standpoint on the field.”