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Evan Engram wants to improve as a blocker, play 16 games

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The Giants’ tight end is all business in camp

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Giants Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

If the New York Giants are going to reach their potential on offense in 2019, they are going to need tight end Evan Engram to get there.

A fantastic rookie season established Engram as one of the most dangerous receiving tight ends in the NFL, but injuries and a change in usage set him back in 2018. On Thursday Engram talked about the work he is putting in to take his game, and the Giants’ offense, to the next level.

On blocking

If you asked most fans — or experts — to list the best blocking tight ends in the NFL, odds are Evan Engram wouldn’t be mentioned. Part of that is due to the lingering narrative that he is an oversized receiver and not a tight end. While he might not have been a great blocker coming out of Ole Miss, Engram has put in a tremendous amount of work as a blocker since being drafted.

And even though Engram was one of the few tight ends to not blow a single block (126 blocking snaps, 1 pressure allowed in pass protection) in 2018, he is still working to get better.

“LDub (TE Coach Lunda Wells) does a great job with us,” Engram said, “working on our techniques throughout the spring and kind of getting our mind right on the good technique and things. When the pads come on, you get to really work it, and you get the film to break down and fix those mistakes. I was honestly thinking about this the other day, we’ve come so far just with the little things in the blocking game, and that’s a credit to our coach. He’s been really on us hard, and we take pride in blocking, and when the pads come on we’re definitely taking care of each other, but we’re definitely competing.”

In addition to his own drive and work ethic as a player, Engram also credits the work the Giants’ offensive line is putting in as motivation.

Engram said, “Being next to the O-line, you’ve got to bring it as well because they’ve been working their butts off, they’ve been pushing each other to work on the small things, and to be in sync with them to get the run game going.”

On practicing against Jabrill Peppers

The Giants have largely overhauled their defense for the second time in as many years. While it remains to be seen whether reshuffling the deck will lead to better play once the games matter, at the very least it gives the offensive players new challenges in practice.

This year Engram will be practicing against Jabrill Peppers, who replaces Landon Collins as the box safety. He says that Peppers’ patience will force him to improve as a pass catcher.

Engram said, “He’s real patient. You get pads on and you get in the speed of the game — as a receiver, you want to work releases, you want to give double moves to kind of create separation with him. You have to be really deliberate with those moves. He’s real patient, he doesn’t really bite. He’s really aggressive and he plays as a strong player, but you’ve got to really work on your craft with him. That’s definitely going to pay off when it comes to playing against other guys, and it’s definitely going to help him, and it’s going to help us with him playing on defense and going against that competition as well.”

On what he expects from the season

While Engram is continually working on his blocking and his craft as a pass catcher, those aren’t what will vault him into the upper echelon of tight ends and offensive weapons. Engram could be one of the most dangerous offensive players in the NFL, but to do so he needs to get a volume of targets to get there. And like they say, a player’s best ability is availability. Engram has yet to play a full 16 game schedule in his two years as a pro, missing one game his rookie season and five last year.

His goal for 2019 is clear.

“I want to play 16 games,” Engram said. “That’s kind of my mindset coming into this year. There’s definitely a responsibility off the field I have to take to make that happen. Obviously, you have injuries that you can’t control, and stuff happens on the football field, but there’s also things you can control to keep your body in proper shape, and stay healthy and stuff like that. That’s kind of my motto this year, 16 games, and I know what it takes to do that, and it’s going to be up to me to get that done.”