New York Giants head coach has been a very busy man over the last 72 — or so — hours.
He had the Giants’ final intra-squad scrimmage on Thursday, then the Giants had to finalize their plans for their (initial) 53-man roster on Friday, go through final cut-downs on Saturday, and now Sunday was spent finding out if any of the Giants waiver claims were successful and setting up the Giants 16-man practice squad.
It’s understandable then that Judge was a bit late for his scheduled Zoom call with the Giants’ beat writers. But, as he explained, he didn’t want to short-change a player with whom he was meeting.
“I apologize for the slight delay,” Judge said. “I got caught up with a player and didn’t want to cut that conversation short, so I appreciate you guys staying with us. Since the conclusion of practice the other day, we’ve really been focused full-time on the roster development, working down through the 53 cuts as well as developing our practice squad. As the actual practice squad is finalized, we’ll make sure to release that to you. I don’t want to give you any information that isn’t 100 percent, so we’ll wait until that’s finalized in a whole.”
Judge explained the surprising decisions to cut linebacker Ryan Connelly and wide receiver Corey Coleman.
On Ryan Connelly
The Giants’ decision to waive second-year linebacker Ryan Connelly took the fan base — and the media — off guard. Judge admitted that it was a calculated risk and that the Giants were hoping to be able to sign Connelly to their practice squad.
“We have a lot of respect for Ryan,” Judge said. “He’s a good football player. We had to make the decision ultimately that was best for us. We wish him good luck. If things worked out perfectly for us, we would have loved to have him back on the practice squad. We didn’t expect that to happen to be honest with you because he’s a good, accomplished player and there are a lot of teams in the league that were going to be looking to claim him. We wish him good luck in Minnesota and look forward to seeing him play.”
Judge added that Connelly’s health wasn’t a factor.
“Ryan was obviously healthy and he’s healthy going into Minnesota, so we wish him the best of luck,” Judge said. “We feel good right now about our linebacker depth. We have to get everybody on the roster developed at all the positions and building our versatility at each spot. Right now, we feel comfortable with where we’re at, but we have to push to improve going forward.”
On skill position players
As things stand now, the Giants are going into this season with just five wide receivers on the roster; Sterling Shepard, Darius Slayton, Golden Tate III, C.J. Board, and Damion Ratley. When the Giants published their initial 53-man roster, that last receiver spot was taken by Corey Coleman, but the Giants released him after claiming Ratley off of waivers.
“First off, we’re pleased with the wide receiver depth we have. I think we’re going into it right now with some speed at the position. That’s something we’re definitely looking to add right there,” Judge said. “I think we have good position flexibility with all of our skill players on offense. We feel good with where we’re at right now. Look, it’s the National Football League. We’re always looking to improve through our own roster development, develop through our practice squad, and throughout the year as different moves happen on different rosters, that can obviously impact our own roster as well.
“In terms of the guys that we’ve added to the roster, each one answers specific needs at that position group, really as far as establishing more depth and giving us some versatility within the position. We were able to add some speed at the skill positions, safety and receiver, obviously.”
On the cornerback position
When the Giants made the move to sign cornerback James Bradberry in free agency, it was to solidify their secondary. But that only lasted a short while and the unit once again found itself in flux when a warrant was issued for DeAndre Baker’s arrest in May.
The Giants have cycled through a number of defensive backs trying to find a good answer opposite Bradberry, particularly after Sam Beal opted out of the 2020 season. It seems that the Giants current plan is to go with a “cornerback by committee” approach.
“Right now, we’re looking to play as many of our players as possible at those positions,” Judge said. “Keep them fresh and rotate. One thing we haven’t had yet is a preseason game or a regular season game yet obviously. We’re going to make sure we use all of our guys, roll them on through, and we’ll see who performs the best. Whoever the hot hand is we may go with, but we’re going to make sure we keep rolling them on through and building the experience of the group as a whole.”
The Giants also made a move very late in training camp to acquire CB Isaac Yiadom in a trade with the Denver Broncos.
“He’s been in here today already kind of talking through some different things, trying to get caught up to speed. He has an iPad, he has a playbook and availability. We like the way he plays on the line of scrimmage. He has some experience within the league,” Judge said. “That goes a little bit of ways, but it’s our job as coaches to get him caught up to our system as fast as possible. There won’t be much carryover necessarily from the other system, but we try to keep as many of the techniques similar for him so he can carry over as fast as possible.”
The Giants’ head coach also explained what motivated the Giants to make the trade for Yiadom.
“We like the energy and effort he plays with,” Judge said. “We like the physicality he shows on the line of scrimmage, and obviously, this is a guy that we remember when he came out of college not too long ago in the draft. We’ve known about this guy in the league for a while.”