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Can Giants’ WR Alonzo Russell finally harness his physical gifts?

Russell hasn’t done so in stops with Cincinnati and Arizona

NFL: Preseason-Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals
Alonzo Russell
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants could use a big wide receiver with the physical skills to be a red zone asset. Can Alonzo Russell be that player? Let’s look at the former Toledo receiver as we continue our player-by-player profiles of the 90-man roster the Giants will bring to training camp.

The basics

Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 206
Position: Wide receiver
Experience: 2 (all as a practice squad player)

2017 season in review

An undrafted free agent who spent the 2016 season the practice squad of the Cincinnati Bengals, we was waived by the Bengals after the 2017 preseason. He hooked on for part of the season with the Arizona Cardinals practice squad. The Giants signed him as a free agent in May.

Over two preseasons with Cincinnati, Russell caught four passes for 29 yards. Only one of those, for just 4 yards, was in the 2017 preseason.

2018 outlook

Russell appears to be a player who has size at 6-foot-3, 206 pounds and physical gifts that continue to get him chances with NFL teams. Going back to him time at Toledo, though, scouts appear to be miffed as to why Russell hasn’t gotten better since an outstanding freshman season.

Receiving & Rushing Table
Rece Rece Rece Rece
Year School Conf Class Pos G Rec Yds Avg TD
*2012 Toledo MAC FR WR 13 56 960 17.1 5
2013 Toledo MAC SO WR 12 59 728 12.3 6
*2014 Toledo MAC JR WR 13 51 770 15.1 8
*2015 Toledo MAC SR WR 12 36 618 17.2 5
Career Toledo 202 3076 15.2 24
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 7/5/2018.

Here is what a scout said about Russell prior to the 2016 NFL Draft:

“When a player with his height, weight, speed doesn’t get any better from his first year you really have to wonder what is going on. He should have been a 1,000-yard receiver at some point and he never was.” -- AFC East scout

Rotoworld said:

Russell looks the part with a big body and 33 7/8-inch arms, but he frustrated on film with inconsistent effort and struggles versus press-man coverage. Russell was an effective lower-level college wideout whose game is unlikely to translate.

So far, those reports appear to have proven accurate. With the Giants, Russell is competing for roster spots a crowd of players that includes Kalif Raymond, Hunter Sharp, Russell Shepard, Amba Etta-Tawo, Marquis Bundy, Travis Rudolph and Roger Lewis Jr.

Can he step up his game and earn one of the final wide receiver spots on the Giants’ roster? Past history would indicate probably not, but the intriguing physical ability gives him a chance.