The New York Giants’ offseason program began to ramp up Tuesday morning with the start of their mini-camp. The Giants are one of several teams to hold mini-camp before the end of their OTAs. The team has been working over the course of the spring as they gradually ramp up to training camp at the end of July, but this is the first time in a while that media members have been able to attend practice.
Our own Ed Valentine was in attendance and has already provided his takeaways from the first day of mini-camp.
After practice the media got to talk to players, including new safety Jabrill Peppers.
While attendance at mini-camps is mandatory for players, the practices shouldn’t be confused with training camp. What is being done on the field only bears a passing resemblance to actual football. With players in helmets, jerseys, and shorts, and practices not being run at full speed, results should be taken with a grain of salt. That being said, important work is still getting done, both on the field and in the class room.
Likewise, the work of forging a team out of players who might only have met each other recently is under way as well. Giants’ head coach Pat Shurmur believes Peppers’ infectious personality will be an asset in helping to build team chemistry.
“He has a very charismatic personality and he loves to play the game,” Giants’ head coach Pat Shurmur said. “He picked up quickly what we were doing on defense well and he is extremely smart. He is very tough and very competitive. When you see guys like that on the field, you feel their presence immediately. He got to it quickly.”
For his part, Peppers is just happy to be on a football field, saying, “You always have to remember this is a blessing to be able to play this game and get paid for it. No matter how hard the days get, you don’t gotta do it, you get to do it. There’s a lot of guys that would love to get this opportunity that we have. Whenever you don’t feel like doing it, you just gotta bring yourself, something has to come over you to just (say) this is a blessing to be out there. That’s what I try to do, even some days I don’t feel like doing it. Once I get out there, that pretty much goes away and diminishes. It kinda comes naturally.”
Roles in the defense
Coming out of college, Peppers played a variety of positions for the Michigan Wolverines — lining up everywhere from Wildcat QB to linebacker to defensive back, and just about anywhere but lineman. At the NFL combine, the League had him work out with the lnebackers, but he stayed an extra day and asked to work out with the defensive backs as well.
Early in his career with the Giants, it looks as though he will once again wear a number of hats for the defense.
“I love it so far,” Peppers said. “Playing various spots, populating the ball, dropping back in coverage. Me and AB [Antoine Bethea] are two interchangeable guys. We can definitely mix up the looks, hold disguises, things like that. It should definitely be fun.”
While the Giants were nominally a “3-4” defense last year, the reality was that they played from a variety of fronts, from a 3-4 to a 4-3, all the way to dime packages with no true defensive linemen on the field. It’s a feature of the Giants’ defense that the Giants’ new safety likes.
Peppers said, “Week in and week out, everything is probably going to go by game plan. Coach Bettch is a smart guy, he figures out where to put us and we gotta make him look good by making the plays. I’m not really too worried about it right now, just learning the playbook, learning as much as I can, soaking it all in, so if he does need me to play multiple spots, it won’t be too much of a shock to me.”
“I like all of them,” He added. “You knew I was going to say that. Just to keep the offense guessing about what I’m doing, what AB is doing. Even with the backers, even with corners. If you just know what you are supposed to do, know where your help is and play to your strengths, I think you will be pretty good in this defense.”