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Joe Judge: Devonta Freeman’s role, and more takeaways

Let’s go through what the Giants coach addressed on Wednesday

Devonta Freeman during his first practice with the Giants.
Matthew Swensen []

Newly-signed running back Devonta Freeman could have a limited role for the New York Giants on Sunday. Let’s go through that and some of the other takeaways from coach Joe Judge’s Wednesday afternoon videoconference.

Could Devonta Freeman play Sunday?


The Giants will try to get Freeman, the veteran running back practicing Wednesday for the first time, ready for a limited role on Sunday.

“We’re going to do our best to get him ready for Sunday if we can do that,” Judge said. “We just want to make sure we put him in a position where he can be successful. We don’t want to throw him out there and have him not be prepared because of lack of time.”

Freeman had a career-low 3.6 yards per carry average a season ago. In his seventh season, how much does he have left?

“I think he’s got some juice left in the tank,” Judge said. “We’ll give him the opportunity to prove that.”

What does it say about the 2020 Giants that they added a veteran player like Freeman?

“We’re not gonna raise the white flag on anything,” Judge said. “ There’s no white flags here.”

Three-week IR rule

Sterling Shepard is the second Giant to go on IR who could return after three weeks, with the other being linebacker David Mayo. Judge was asked if he like that change to the rules, implemented mostly because of COVID-19 concerns.

“I’m all in favor of it,” Judge said. “We want all of our players to play as much as they can, I’m sure other coaches in the league feel the same way.

“It’s in the best interests to have players playing. Fans want to see players play. I’m sure owners want to see players out there that they’re paying playing, and coaches want to see guys on the field. So, I’m all in favor of it.

Jimmy G. and Nick Mullens

As of Wednesday, it’s uncertain whether starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (high ankle sprain) or backup Nick Mullens will play on Sunday for the 49ers. Judge admitted that the Giants have to construct two defensive game plans because of that uncertainty.

“You have to have a little bit of a plan for both because what they may do may be dictated by who’s at the game,” Judge said. “These are conversations that we’re having with coaches.

Judge was a new England Patriots assistant coach at the beginning of Garoppolo’s career. In a light moment, Judge complemented Garoppolo’s toughness and said he comes from a “typical Midwest meathead family.”

Judge said Mullens “gets the ball out of his hand extremely fast” and “has obviously had some success for them in the past when he’s had to play.”

Final word on MetLife turf

A member of the San Francisco media asked Judge about the MetLife Stadium turf. The coach was pretty direct in his answer.

“I’ve had no conversations with the NFL, period, on the field. I’ll let them take care of that. We’ve been fine with it.”

“A do what they do deal”

That’s how Judge described the 49ers defense, meaning there aren’t many surprises from them in terms of how they play.

“They do it really, really well,” Judge said. “They know all the coverage beaters you’re going to try and run on them. They know how you’re going to go ahead and try to get at their front in terms of scheming up the run game. They’re a very good penetrating front. Really it all starts up front with these guys, they’re very disruptive. ...

“They don’t give up explosive plays. That’s the biggest thing. This team makes you commit to being a disciplined team and execute down the field play after play after play.”

Without Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and Solomon Thomas along that front it remains to be seen if San Francisco will be as disruptive as it usually is.