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Giants news, 8/22: Mark Herzlich — “spirit” of helmet rule is correct

Linebacker got questionable flag vs. Detroit

New York Giants v Detroit Lions
Mark Herzlich was called for a helmet infraction on this play.
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

In the second quarter of Friday’s preseason game against the Detroit Lions, the New York Giants felt the impact of the new helmet rule for the first time. Linebacker Mark Herzlich received a highly questionable 15-yard penalty for “lowering his helmet to initiate contact,” negating a sack of Matt Cassel by Lorenzo Carter.

On replay, running back Theo Riddick of the Lions appeared to initiate the contact — in fact, seeming to launch himself into Herzlich.

Coach Pat Shurmur wasn’t happy, saying “I have a very strong opinion of that play,” and adding that the Giants would send it to the league for clarification.

The rule, via SB Nation’s ‘Rise ‘n Grind’ newsletter:

The new rule: It is a foul if a player lowers his head to initiate and make contact with his helmet against an opponent. Contact does not have to be to an opponent’s head or neck area – lowering the head and initiating contact to an opponent’s torso, hips, and lower body, is also a foul. This rule applies anywhere on the field at any time.​

Penalties for Violation: Loss of 15 yards. If the foul is by the defense, it is also an automatic first down. The player may also be ejected.

The rule has led to a rash of highly-questionable penalties being called across the league during preseason games.

Tuesday, Herzlich spoke about the rule.

“To me, at the end of the day, the spirit and the purpose of this rule is right. We want our players to be safe, we don’t want to be – we want to take the head out of the game,” Herzlich said. “You see in preseason a lot of times when you get certain holding calls on punt return emphasized, it’s called a replay. This could be a situation where they are overcalling it right now so you get used to it, but as players, we do have to know that they are out there.”

The veteran linebacker was asked if the helmet penalty should be reviewable.

“I’m not exactly sure what is going to make it work correctly. If it’s easier for the refs to see it as a reviewable play, that’s one thing. If it’s the type of rule where they’ve got to see it fast motion, that’s kind of how it goes,” he said. “But that becomes two very different penalties where you can stop and take a replay of a flag like that. That would be very different than a bang-bang play.”

Shurmur: “We’ll see” if Odell Beckham will play Friday

The Giants coach wasn’t biting on Tuesday when asked if Beckham, who has yet to play a preseason snap, would be in the lineup Friday against the New York Jets.

“We’ll see,” Shurmur said. “…You knew I was going to give you a real short answer on that one.”

Is Beckham physically ready to play in a game?

“He’s doing really well in practice here, so we’ll see where he’s at,” said Shurmur. “Again, coming back from injury, so we’ll try to be smart with him.”

Saquon Barkley “training really well”

Shurmur didn’t give a whole lot more detail when it came to the team’s first-round pick in the draft, who is working his way back from a hamstring injury.

“Coming back. As we all know, he tweaked his hamstring, and he’s training really well and doing more and more each day,” Shurmur said. “We like the path he’s on. … We’ll see how it plays out.”

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More importantly, the Giants are expecting Manning to play young.

Shurmur told The Post he thinks Manning can establish a career completion percentage high in 2018.

With Shurmur as his offensive coordinator last season in Minnesota, Case Keenum’s completion percentage was 67.6. Keenum’s previous high had been 60.9 in 2016.

Manning’s career best is 63.1 percent in 2014. Last season, he was at 61.6 percent.

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Manning has never had a pass-catching back like Barkley. Beckham will be back healthy. Shepard and Engram are emerging stars. His offensive line is better. And Shurmur is an elite playcaller.

This could be the perfect storm for Eli Manning.

“I think we have guys that can get open, and I think it’s a good system and scheme,” Manning said. “I think we’ll run the ball and get in good down-and-distance and have an opportunity to find completions. I hope we can do that.”

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