Giants TE Larry Donnell's blocking had made him a liability. So the Giants pulled him from games on run downs, in lieu of better blocking tight ends Daniel Fells and Adrien Robinson. Donnell didn't start three of the last five games.
Donnell knew his weakness, had a goal and attacked.
"I was trying to refine my game so I can be better in the run game. I did some things, changed it up a little bit weight-wise and all," Donnell said this week after the Giants' first organized team activity workout. "The big problem with me is my hands used to go too wide. People used to get their hands inside of me, inside my chest and I lost a lot of battles there."
"We want to see him step up in the areas that are not natural for him, the blocking areas, for example," coach Tom Coughlin said during last season. "And obviously ball security."
Donnell had four lost fumbles, in part because he often found himself with his feet off the ground and in compromising positions. But that's more a mental mistake than physical.
So the focus this offseason was on blocking. There was a lot to fix.
Donnell averaged 82% of the snaps through the first 11 weeks, but played just 69% over the final six games. He finished the season as the #11 TE in both standard and PPR formats, but did not crack 60 yards or find the endzone in the final six games. He had the 17th-most targets (5.2 T/G) over that span, after seeing the 7th-most (6.1 T/G) in the first 11 weeks. If his blocking and ball security improve, he should see his snaps rise, and in turn his targets and production.
Friday, April 10, 2015, 10:32am
The Giants have their second tight end back.
On Wednesday afternoon, the club came to terms with Daniel Fells on a one-year deal, according to sources. Fells will rejoin Larry Donnell, an exclusive rights free agent who already re-signed, in a solid tight end tandem for the Giants.
Fells, 31, was a quiet addition to the franchise last season, but he quickly emerged as perhaps the most well-rounded weapon in an anonymous tight end corps. An ex-Bronco and ex-Patriot, he was the best blocker of the group, and he added four TD catches and 18 receptions.
Monday, November 17, 2014, 12:49pm
Given the Giants' rushing woes, perhaps we shouldn't have been shocked that running back Rashad Jennings stayed on the field for nearly every snap against the San Francisco 49ers. But with Jennings clearly still rusty after a six-week layoff, it was certainly surprising that his backup, rookie Andre Williams barely saw any action.
Instead, in hopes of playing a ball-control style of offense, the Giants upped the snap count for players like backup tight end Daniel Fells in the jumbo package to give Jennings and the offensive line an extra blocker.
Williams underwhelmed as the feature back in Jennings' absence, failing to crack 60 yards and never rushing for more than 3.5 yards per carry over his four games as the starter. The story went on to say there were moments against the Niners, especially in short-yardage situations, where Williams might have been used earlier in the season, but for whatever reason was left on the bench. It appears to be good news for Jennings owners who stuck with him through the layoff. In Week 12, the Giants host Dallas, followed by Jacksonville and Tennessee which are fairly favorable matchups. However, the Redskins and Rams are in store for playoff Weeks 15 and 16, and present much more difficult matchups.
Tuesday, September 2, 2014, 8:15pm
The Giants are hoping that, as they hit the season opener with TEs Daniel Fells, Larry Donnell and Adrien Robinson in a platoon situation, each one got better after a preseason that forced all of them to compete for reps. The team abandoned the hope that one would surface as the ideal all-around candidate after a few weeks of training camp and opted for the "by committee" scenario that tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride said would work, though it wouldn't be ideal.
But will it?
Asking Tom Coughlin yielded little in the way of answers. The team cut Kellen Davis over the weekend but could bring him back for his blocking. When the coach was asked if he was settled on a starter for the season-opener against the Lions, his answer was brief and didn't say much for the players he had.
Donnell led all TEs in receiving but his blocking was a major question. As we've said all along, this is a situation to stay away from until someone emerges...
Saturday, August 30, 2014, 9:36am
Davis, 28, was signed by the Giants this offseason after spending last year with the Seattle Seahawks. He was a key figure this summer in an open competition with the Giants that included Robinson, Daniel Fells and Larry Donnell.
There really doesn't appear to be a TE1 at the time for the Giants and there was talk it would be more of a committee. The offense is still a bit of a mess, so until one emerges offensively, stay away from this situation.
Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 12:23pm
Giants TE Daniel Fells is expected to take some (if not most) of the first-team snaps on Thursday night against his former team, and is in serious contention for playing time in the tight-end-by-committee approach the Giants admittedly will employ.
"They are all going to play," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said of the rotation for Thursday night, and likely this season.
The Giants TE situation is one to just stay away from right now until someone (hopefully) emerges.
Monday, August 25, 2014, 6:43pm
It has reached the point where the Giants conceded they don't have a true No. 1 tight end, only four limited players (if they keep all four on the final roster) with specific skill sets they plan to use accordingly.
"That is not necessarily what the plan was [entering training camp]," coach Tom Coughlin said. "But the plan has evolved to that, where people can be utilized for their skills in different ways."
It's an ugly fantasy situation and one to stay away from, at least until someone can emerge. But the entire passing game seem to have a ways to go first. The story said Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell are presumably around for the long haul of 2014. Veterans Daniel Fells and Kellen Davis are also in the mix. Every day, the order they take the field seems to change.
Monday, August 4, 2014, 10:06am
The Giants’ search for a new tight end continues.
On Sunday night, Larry Donnell got the start against the Bills, which made sense given the praise he has garnered in training camp. But Donnell didn’t do anything worthy of praise in the Hall of Fame game. The good news is that none of the other tight ends did, either.
Targeted twice, Donnell caught one pass for 13 yards. Daniel Fells caught one for 10. And they’re the only two tight ends who actually got in the game.
Monday, July 28, 2014, 5:54pm
The crux of the Giants tight end problem, with six weeks until the regular season begins, continues to be this: Their new offense wants to rely on the tight end to a significant extent, but it still doesn't really have a tight end on which it can rely.
"Right now, we're looking for that complete tight end who can do it all," Giants tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride said Monday. "But we also need guys who are role players -- guys who can be specialists in certain areas. If he's best at executing a certain block, he's going to have the opportunity to make that block in the game. If he's best at running a certain route, he's going to have the opportunity to run that route in a game. So you need to have that all-around tight end, and then you also need to have specialists, guys who are great at a particular role."
Sunday, July 27, 2014, 9:48am
According to multiple people within the Giants organization who requested anonymity in order to speak freely on the matter, the Giants have informed their tight ends that there is a good possibility that a fullback won’t make the final 53-man roster — leaving all of those duties up to the tight ends. Though injuries, personnel shifts and observances in the preseason could change the team’s plans, they entered the year hoping to keep their best four tight ends and give themselves some options on cut-down day.
Imagining a Tom Coughlin team without a hard-nosed presence at fullback is difficult to do, though it’s more a reflection of the offensive evolution around the NFL. Some scouts around the league believe that the league will eventually retreat back into a run-heavy offenses that emphasize ball control, but for now, bolstering options in the passing game make the most sense.
Free agents Kellen Davis (Seahawks) and Daniel Fells (New England) along with Larry Donnell and Adrien Robinson have been asked to learn the new wrinkle. While it will likely give a job to one of these guys, none are expected to be fantasy worthy. However, it looks like the Giants will have a new look on offense running the ball.
Thursday, July 24, 2014, 4:10pm
The Giants don't have a definitive starter at tight end no matter what the depth chart says, and, as we wrote yesterday, that is not a problem right now.
In the meantime, Tom Coughlin said he's giving equal reps to each player in hopes that a few will separate from the pack and that all will be able to play in games.
In the short-term, it appears that Coughlin has no interest in making a snap decision. Injuries, inevitably, will also help him parse out the depth chart.
"Plenty of time for that," Coughlin said. "We don't have to rush into anythi
Monday, June 9, 2014, 12:17pm
The Giants like their tight end to be a reliable run-blocker and an occasional helper in the passing game. Anyone who can fit that description has a chance to be on the field -- whether it's Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell, Daniel Fells, Kellen Davis, whoever. I wouldn't touch any of them in fantasy football, and I wouldn't go into this season super-worried about whether the Giants have a tight end who can catch 70 passes. They don't want one. They don't think they need one. So whatever your expectations may be for Adrien Robinson this year, there's a pretty good chance the ones the Giants have are even lower. But they're also probably less worried about it than you are.
Friday, August 30, 2013, 6:31pm
Wednesday, August 14, 2013, 1:40pm
There was a moment where Tom Brady yelled at Sudfeld for not getting to the ground in a drill simulating a late-game situation, but Sudfeld has been one of the most impressive Patriots throughout camp, and he carried it over into joint practices by consistently getting open against the Buccaneers linebackers and safeties. Sudfeld went 2-1 in the one-on-one coverage drills with the Patriots running backs and tight ends vs. the Buccaneers linebackers and safeties. He also caught a team-high three passes in 11-on-11 work, including a touchdown against safety Keith Tandy.
Sudfeld might be the right player to handcuff to Rob Gronkowski. He's been getting glowing reports from camp and it looks like he would start if Gronk misses time at the beginning of the season.
Sunday, August 11, 2013, 1:27pm
Patriot TEs Zach Sudfeld, Daniel Fells, Jake Ballard and Michael Hoomanawanui all filled their roles nicely in the opener. Sudfeld will assume some of Aaron Hernandez’ responsibilities, lining up offset or in the slot and catching passes, and his nifty spin move by the sideline was eerily familiar. Fells, who has had a nice camp, played well in his blocking and receiving assignments.
Ballard was counted on as more of a blocker, and Hoomanawanui did some of the same, including several snaps at fullback. All four would be useful on the 53-man roster until Rob Gronkowski returns.
Sudfeld and Fells have stood out the most in camp and there was talk of Ballard not making the team as he tries to get back to 100-percent. It seems like all could make the team if Gronkowski misses time or starts on PUP. But with the lack of info about Gronk, it's even possible Gronkowski is ready for week one. Either way, don't expect any of the other TEs to put up Hernandez-like numbers as the Pats are expected to run more and/or use more three WR sets.
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