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Giants training camp notes: What we learned from assistant coaches on Friday

Several position coaches spoke with media on Friday

Bret Bielema
Matthew Swensen/


OLB coach Bret Bielema: Knew Joe Judge “had big things in front of him”

Bielema worked with Giants’ head coach Joe Judge for two years with the New England Patriots. He knew what he saw.

“The first meeting I ever sat in front when he was going over details that Coach Belichick would give him it was just very impressive to realize the football presentation, his awareness, his voice, his demeanor ... you knew he had big things in front of him.”

As far as coaching Giants’ outside linebackers, Bielema preaches what he calls “OLB DNA.”

“Everybody knows what DNA is, right? DNA is something that’s in you that describes who you are ... as an outside linebacker group we try to do things every day to establish who we are to the outside world.”

What does he think of his group of edge players?

“There aren’t any true all-stars. Just kind of guys who show up to work every day,” Bielema said.

DBs coach Jerome Henderson: It’s about the competition

The veteran defensive backs coach has the unenviable task of sorting through all of the Giants’ options at the second cornerback spot and in the slot, and doing so in a compressed period of time.

“All those corners are competing,” Henderson said. “Right now we don’t have a true depth chart. Everybody’s going to get a chance to compete.

“Joe’s made it very plain to use that everybody competes. Nobody is given anything.”

One young player Henderson will be charged with developing is second-round pick Xavier McKinney.

“Just like all young players there is going to be a growth curve with him where he’s adjusting to our communication system, our way of doing things,” Henderson said. “The thing you know about the kid, he loves football, he’s got a lot of natural ability.

“We’re going to push him really hard to make sure he continues to grow.”

OL coach Marc Colombo: Nick Gates an “alpha male”

The Giants’ offensive line coach was, of course, asked about Nick Gates’ possible transition to center. Having never played the position, could the third-year player emerge as the Giants’ starting center?

“Nick’s doing a tremendous job. Never played the position before, and he’s the alpha male that you want at the position. He owns it. That’s what you love about Nick,” Colombo said. “He’s smart. He’s tough. He’s versatile. He can play any position on the offensive line, which is a huge plus for this organization. Love the kid so far. He’s done a good job.”

Colombo played at one time for Bill Parcells in Dallas.

“Coach Parcells revived my career. He saw something in me when I was hurt and no other team would take a chance on me. I owe him a lot. He pushed me to be something better than I ever thought I could be,” Colombo said. “Forever indebted to that. I’d run through a wall if he asked me to right now.”

RB coach Burton Burns: Fulfilling a dream, helping a friend

Burns is 67, had never coached in the NFL before accepting a job with the Giants, and had stepped away from the sidelines and into an administrative role at Alabama a couple of seasons ago.

So, why come to the Giants?

“A situation created itself for me. I had a relationship with Joe Judge. One of my long-time ambitions was to coach in the NFL, but as you go through your career you wake up from year to year and just do whart you’re supposed to do.

“I think the biggest part was Joe Judge giving me the opportunity. It’s something I wanted to do personally to be in the NFL, but also knowing Joe’s personality and our relationship it was kind of like I wanted to come and see if I could help him do his thing.”