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Perspectives: Takeaways as New York Giants conclude mandatory mini-camp

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Standouts and some random thoughts about the direction of the franchise highlight this recap

NFL: New York Giants-Minicamp NorthJersey.com-USA TODAY NETWORK

At the end of New York Giants mandatory minicamp, I’d be blasting this classic tune from Alice Cooper all the way down the Garden State Parkway.

But not this year. Yes, the Giants have wrapped up their three-day mandatory minicamp, and, yes, they still have one more week of “school,” er, OTAs before they are dismissed for about seven weeks prior to the start of training camp (rookies will report July 22, veterans on July 24 with the first practice set for July 25).

Since it is the end of the football work week for the players, here are a few takeaways and perspectives from the three-day minicamp.

Camp standouts

If I’m picking stars from the shorts-and-shells, non-contact mini-camp not named Eli Manning or Daniel Jones or Saquon Barkley, my choices would be receiver Darius Slayton, tight end C.J. Conrad, safety Jabrill Peppers, and cornerback DeAndre Baker.

Slayton came into camp with a reputation for having concentration dropped balls, something that we saw initially in the rookie minicamp. But to his credit, he’s worked to correct that and had himself a strong mini-camp in which his blazing speed was put on display several times on passes thrown by Daniel Jones.

“Honestly, my job is pretty easy,” Slayton said of working with Jones. “He’s a really smart guy; he throws a great ball, it’s on time. When you are working with a guy like that, as a receiver it gives you a lot of confidence that all I have to worry about is getting open and he is going to put the ball where it’s needed.”

It’s still early in the process, but Peppers is fast demonstrating that he has that “it” factor. Call it confidence, call it cockiness, call it whatever you want, but the defense seems to lack a certain something when he’s not on the field.

Peppers almost reminds me of a young Antrel Rolle in terms of that extra something he brings to the field.

Now, of course, it’s still too soon to say if he’ll turn out to be half the player Rolle was, but if you’re talking leadership, already Peppers has made a difference. Pair him up with Antoine Bethea, and the Giants might very well have their best safety tandem in some time.

I’m calling this right now. If he stays healthy and if he blocks the way I think he’s capable of blocking, Conrad, the undrafted free agent out of Kentucky, will have a spot on this roster. He was that good as a receiver, and I think he moves a lot more fluidly than Scott Simonson and Garrett Dickerson.

Not to jinx anyone but given Evan Engram’s injury history (he missed this camp due to an undisclosed ailment); the Giants are probably going to need whoever their third tight end is at some point for more than just a quick play here and there.

Baker has undoubtedly made the most of his opportunities to work with the first-team defenses during Sam Beal’s absence this week.

“It’s been good. Being around the older guys, teaching me different ways to get better,” Baker said of his experience.

“Older guys in the room like (CB Janoris Jenkins) Jackrabbit, (S Michael) Mike Thomas – those guys helping me getting plays right and everything like that.”

Although there hasn’t been any contact allowed, Baker, who carries a little chip on his shoulder, has shown that he can turn and run with the best receivers the Giants have and get himself into a position to knock away passes.

He’s also embraced the opportunity to earn a starting job and has had no problem with working with the second team defense when asked.

“I was just taking mental reps from the old guys, seeing the things that they did wrong, seeing the things that they did good to help my game,” he said.

“It played a good role. It was valuable to me to sit back and watch them and go put in my game.”

Does he think he’s ready to work more with the first-team defense this summer?

“It’s up to the coaches,” he said. “I just go out there and work every day, give it my all, and compete. That’s left in the coaches’ hands.”

Roll call

Cornerback Antonio Hamilton joined the small group of players who were unable to participate in the practice. Peppers (tooth) and receiver Sterling Shepard (wrist) both returned to action. Cornerback Sam Beal (personal) was not present on the final day of the mini-camp.

The rest of the small group includes receivers Alex Wesley and Brittan Golden, tight end/quarterback Eric Dungey, safety Sean Chandler, tackles Nate Solder and Mike Remmers, Engram, and defensive lineman Olsen Pierre.

Shurmur has said that he doesn’t anticipate any of the injured players from this spring being long-term occupants in the rehab area just outside the practice field.

Odell again

I didn’t want to have to write about this next topic because quite honestly, I’m trying to stay LockedOn Giants this year.

But here we are, so here goes.

This fascination with Odell Beckham Jr. and supposed battle with quarterback Eli Manning has become almost as newsworthy as the reported feud between the U.K.’s “dueling duchesses,” Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle.

In case you missed it, Beckham spoke to reporters at the Browns mandatory minicamp this week and took what some perceive to be a thinly veiled verbal shot at his former quarterback, Eli Manning when he was asked about his new quarterback, Baker Mayfield.

”I’m going to have to get adjusted to the speed because (Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield) has an arm,’’ Beckham said, according to Cleveland.com.

”He’s throwing that ball hard. Just catching him from the first day, it was like, ‘Wow! This is completely different.’ It just takes time.”

Naturally, the story made its way back east and into the Giants mini-camp coverage and yes, even into head coach Pat Shurmur’s press conference after the three-day mini-camp.

“I would probably think of it as less of a criticism of Eli,” Shurmur said when asked about Beckham’s comments.

“He’s getting comfortable with his team; he’s around his teammates, he’s around his new community. I wouldn’t say it’s a criticism of Eli; it’s more of he likes whom he’s playing with.”

Perhaps Shurmur is right in his interpretation — that’s how I took the comments when I initially read them because according to reports out of Cleveland, Beckham has been off training on his own most of the off-season.

With that said, Beckham has moved on to greener (or is that “browner”?) pastures and no amount of times speaking or writing his name by the New York market is going to make him magically re-appear in a Giants uniform.

As for Beckham, for someone who professes to be locked in on winning a championship with the Browns, maybe it’s time that he stops acting like a jilted lover who delights in throwing shade at his former team every chance he gets.

Extra points

— Offensive tackle Nate Solder, who recently had a cleanup procedure done on his ankle, raised a few eyebrows when he was asked if training camp would be an issue.

“Well, I don’t want to say that, but I am taking it one day at a time, and that perspective is very good,” he said.

Some might interpret that response as he won’t be ready to go when the team reports for camp, but one thing to remember when it comes to injured players is that they don’t have to play until September.

In Solder’s case, he’s locked in as the starting left tackle and if his reps are limited during the early part of the camp, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for two reasons.

One, they’d be saving wear and tear on his body. And second, they’d be able to get a more extended look at the swing tackle candidates whom I’m sure they’d probably want to see work with the starting offense at some point, be it in practice or a preseason game.

Check out this video I put together from Wednesday’s Giants community service event. The entire team, the administration, front office — even the cafeteria folks — gathered in the field house to put together bags of school supplies to benefit children of domestic violence victims who seek the services of My Sisters’ Place.

They also colored pictures with inspirational messages and autographed them for inclusion in the bags for the children.

I managed to get up close looks at the artwork by a couple of offensive linemen and by Saquon Barkley, so all the pictures and videos you’ll see in the montage are ones I took with my phone. I hope you enjoy it.

— The Giants have a team-building activity on tap for next week: They’ll be headed to the Bronx to catch one of the Subway Series games between the Yankees and Mets on Monday night.

Up next

The Giants have one more week of work. Their Tuesday OTA will be open to the media.