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Giants’ 90-man roster: Early returns on Jabrill Peppers are positive

Peppers is stepping up as a leader on defense

NFL: New York Giants-Minicamp Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

“The Giants got who in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade?”

Such was the question asked by stunned and irate New York Giants fans when news broke that the Giants had traded superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to the Cleveland Browns in return for safety Jabrill Peppers and two draft picks (picks that turned into defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence and edge rusher Oshane Ximines) in return.

Besides anger and shock over management’s decision to move a popular and dynamic playmaker, the biggest question was what the heck are the Giants doing?

What they appear to be doing is trying to upgrade a defensive unit that vastly under-performed last year with younger and cheaper talent (for now) that, if it performs accordingly, will be rewarded down the line once the Giants salary cap picture becomes healthier.

Peppers is one such player. Already he’s made quite the positive impression on his coaches and his teammates for the energy he brings to the field — energy you can definitely notice.

“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,” Peppers said.

“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.”

The basics

Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 213 pounds
Position: Safety
Age: 23
Experience: 3

How he got here

Peppers will forever be linked to one of the most stunning trades in Giants franchise history since the 2004 blockbuster transaction that sent a boatload of draft picks to the San Diego Chargers in return for some quarterback named Eli Manning.

But why would the Giants create a hole on offense by trading away their best receiver to fix their defense?

The likely answer is the Giants believe that Beckham’s production can be absorbed by the teammates he leaves behind through a system that will likely feature a different primary target each week rather than the pressing need to feed the same guy week in and week out.

2019 outlook

While people are going to be looking for Peppers to produce at a level that makes fans forget about Beckham and Landon Collins, the latter of whom Peppers is replacing in the lineup, don’t expect Peppers to be pressing this year any more than usual.

“Even before the trade, I was saying that I have to pick up the play,” he said. “It’s year three. You definitely gotta pick up the play to be at the level I know I need to play at, and this organization needs me to play at.

”Regardless of how I got here, I’m here, and I’m ready to play my best ball, work as hard as I can and help this organization win ball games on Sundays.”