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‘Valentine’s Views:’ Banging the ‘George Young to the Hall of Fame’ drum again

Former Giants GM deserves enshrinement

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New York Giants
George Young in 1993
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The New York Giants’ training camp turns a corner this week as they begin to prepare to host the New York Jets in Thursday’s preseason opener. Here are a few of my thoughts for today, which sees Giants players enjoying a mandatory day off.

George Young and the Hall of Fame

I have been banging the ‘George Young belongs in the Pro Football Hall of Fame’ drum for years now. With the Hall of Fame set to induct 20 members in 2020 as part of the league 100th anniversary celebration, including three contributors, perhaps this time around is Young’s best chance.

I’ve never been able to understand why Hall of Fame voters have turned a cold shoulder to the former Giants GM.

Young is the man who rescued the Giants franchise from a drought that saw them miss the playoffs from 1964 through 1980. He won Executive of the Year five times from 1979-1997. The Giants won two Super Bowl titles under his direction.

Young made one major mistake, letting Bill Belicheck slip away. Still, hard to believe he hasn’t garnered more support from Hall of Fame voters over the years. Let’s hope that oversight finally gets corrected this time around.

Sterling Shepard and risk management

When Sterling Shepard returned to the field the day after fracturing his thumb, catching passes one-handed in individual work, he was lauded for leading by example. Eyebrows have been raised recently, though, as Shepard, wearing a yellow “don’t throw it to me and don’t touch me” jersey has participated in some 11-on-11 work. And, jersey or not, has seen Eli Manning throw him the ball on a few occasions.

Are the Giants taking an unnecessary risk with Shepard, who is targeting a return for the regular-season opener against the Dallas Cowboys?

Coach Pat Shurmur bristled last week when asked about that.

“I think it’s a good thing that he’s out there. You’ve got to practice football. It’s something that him being out there is a good thing. It also shows it’s a thumb. We’ll worry about that as we go,” Shurmur said.

“Any player practicing, there’s a little bit of a risk. For anything. That’s why we try to be smart. That’s why we try to watch the players and see individually where they’re at, and then go from there. Because if not, we’d just throw everybody in bubble wrap and we’ll see you opening day. We all understand that that’s not how we do it. Now the challenge is to be smart.”

To be honest, I would probably rather not see Shepard involved in 11-on-11 at this point. Things happen, like quarterbacks throwing him the ball when they aren’t supposed to. Like guys slipping and falling, or bumping into each other accidentally.

It’s a risk Shurmur and the Giants are obviously willing to take, and I give Shepard credit for doing as much as he possibly can. The 11-on-11 work, though, admittedly makes me nervous.

Cameron Meredith chooses Patriots

Considering the Giants’ situation at wide receiver it made perfect sense to connect Meredith to them when he was let go recently by the New Orleans Saints. He is an established receiver who had 66 receptions for the Chicago Bears in 2016. It is my understanding that the Giants did, in fact, have interest.

Meredith, though, chose the New England Patriots.

Can you really blame the guy? With a choice between playing a role with the Patriots as they try to win yet another title or coming to the Giants, it’s not hard to see why Meredith would go to New England.

Evolving defenses

At a recent Giants practice, Emory Hunt of Football Gamplan and I were discussing the idea that more and more defensive players are really “hybrids,” guys who have the ability to do multiple things or play multiple positions.

The Giants’ defense is really an example of that changing environment.

Defensive coordinator James Bettcher talked Friday about how Dexter Lawrence is an example of a guy who can play all three spots on the defensive line. Really, so, too, are B.J. Hill, Dalvin Tomlinson, Olsen Pierre and perhaps RJ McIntosh.

Second-year linebacker Tae Davis appears to be surpassing B.J. Goodson at inside linebacker, and that’s largely because as a former safety he has coverage skills. The Giants also believe can play the run.

The secondary is also a place where this is evident. We have talked about Julian Love, who has worked in the slot and at free safety, and can also line up outside. Veteran Michael Thomas can play both safety spots and the slot. Antoine Bethea can play in the box or deep. Corey Ballentine can play multiple roles. Jabrill Peppers might be considered a box safety, but he is really just an athlete who plays defense.

This is what defenses have to be now to combat the increasing spread elements coming from offenses. The Giants are trying to get there.

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