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Giants’ DC Patrick Graham feels urgency, and more takeaways

Graham is well aware that he has 20 days to get ready for the Steelers

Matthew Swensen

The New York Giants held their first intra-squad scrimmage last weekend, and are getting ready to hold their second this Friday. And while this training camp has a surreal feel to it, as though the NFL season is still far off in the distance, the inexorable march of the NFL calendar continues. Ready or not, the Giants will play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 14, just 20 days away.

You don’t have to tell defensive coordinator Patrick Graham he doesn’t have much time to get his defense ready.

“Right, wrong or indifferent, I feel urgency every day. I wake up in the morning, and I don’t know if there is enough hours in the day to get done what I want to get done. We try to plan that out. I think realistically the goals you set in terms of installation, in terms of awareness, you have to plan that out throughout the year. We have to be ready to go for Pittsburgh, there’s no question. Do I feel the urgency of that? Absolutely,” Graham said. “Less than 21 days and here we go, we are playing one of the best teams in the world. There’s some urgency. With a good quarterback, good backs, good o-line, great head coach. You are dealing with a lot there.

“You have to trust the process. The beauty of working for Joe is his vision and how he has set it out since he got the job. We know what we want it to look like. We are trying to build towards that. we want to be a tough team. We want that the jump off the film. We have to put in the necessary work over the next 20 days to make sure we get there for that. The head coach set the vision, we know what we want it to look like. We don’t want to beat ourselves with dumb penalties. We want to eliminate bad football. We want to make sure on defense we can tackle, get off blocks, defend the deep part of the field. We laid out the plan for that, now it’s all about executing. Do we have 20 days left? Yeah, we have 20 days left to do it. We have to figure it out.”

Of course, players aren’t the only ones who need to get ready for live game action. Graham says Friday’s scrimmage will also help him.

“The last time I called a game was in December. I need it and I’m looking forward to it. I know I’ll be better than last week, this week. Hopefully I’ll be better the following week than I was this week,” Graham said. “It has to be constant improvement. No different than what we tell the players, get better every day, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

On players’ versatility

One subject which comes up almost every time Graham speaks is “versatility.” It’s known that the Giants are cross-training their defenders at a variety of spots, and Graham has said that the more tools in the players’ toolbox, the more he is able to do. With that in mind, he was asked about a the versatility in his young secondary, namely with Julian Love, Xavier McKinney, and Darnay Holmes.

Julian Love

“I think the thing about Love that stands out, piggybacking off the previous question, he is a smart football player, on and off the field, in terms of his awareness with the situations, awareness of personnel the offense is giving us,” Graham said. “The fact that he’s able to see that and dissect that, that’s been a good thing for us. The fact that he’s played multiple positions, whether he’s been a corner, whatever he’s played, that’s a positive because it gives us an opportunity to use his skillsets. Whether it’s covering a receiver from coming down, or covering a receiver and he’s down there, covering a back from depth or lining up to cover a back, he can use his skillset to handle that. Because he understands the bigger picture, because he’s played in multiple spots, it makes it even more interchangeable if that makes sense.”

Xavier McKinney and Darnay Holmes

Graham said, “Both of those guys … they come in, they go to work. Darnay and Zay, I call him Zay, but Darnay and Zay go to work. They come in, they’re prepared, they’re ready for meetings. I think they’re being really diligent outside of the building in terms of they’re coming in with the right questions the next day. You can tell they’ve already watched the tape before we even get to it because they’re being real serious about their craft. I can appreciate that because a lot of times, it takes a while to learn that ... They’re kind of catching up right now and understanding the work that you have to put into it ... we wanted these guys for a reason.”