All involved with the Giants are breathlessly awaiting the pairing of Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz as 2015 targets for Eli Manning, but general manager Jerry Reese has sounded the alarm that he cannot unequivocally count on vintage Cruz next season.
“You’ve got to prepare as if, ‘What if Victor Cruz doesn’t come back?’ ’’ Reese said Tuesday. “If you are a personnel guy, or a general manager, that is always in the back of your head. What if this guy doesn’t come back and be the player that we think he is?’’
Cruz had surgery to repair a torn patella tendon in his right knee suffered Oct. 12 in Philadelphia and the estimated recovery time was put at nine months. Cruz has vowed to return to his past form, but Reese spoke of him in a tone similar to the one Reese took a year ago when running back David Wilson was dealing with a neck injury that ultimately forced him to retire.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014, 10:34am
How Beckham handles his first offseason as a pro will help determine the level of success Beckham and the 6-10 Giants reach next season. Manning sure doesn’t want next season to end like this season.
“Not a fun day, it’s disappointing,” Manning said Monday at “Baggie Day” at the Giants training facility. “You have your good years and your bad years and you just have to learn from it.’’
Manning said Beckham, who was not available to the media, will face a much different challenge now.
“I think he has got things figured out,’’ the 11-year veteran said of the rookie. “I talked to him. He’s going to go back and start training in Arizona [at the Athletes’ Performance Institute] real soon. I think that is great.
It's amazing what Beckham did this season when he couldn't even get on the field in camp and in the early part of the season. After that he took off and exploded onto the scene finishing 2014 with a line of 91-1305-12 in 12 games. He'll be a highly-sought WR pick in next season's drafts.
Especially catching the football. He worked hard in that department, getting maximum use out of the Jugs machine, but now it’s a mental game.
“I feel like I have a different set of hands,’’ Williams said of his 18 receptions, good for 130 yards after not catching a pass his senior year at Boston College. “I feel like I have a better grasp on how the catching mechanism is supposed to work.’’
Now comes Step 2.
“It’s not really anything physical, it’s mental,’’ Williams said. “You come into the league and it’s like, ‘I was catching passes from college quarterbacks, but now this is Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP, who is throwing balls to Odell Beckham who has something crazy going on with his hands. He can catch them with one hand and I couldn’t even begin to think of how to accomplish that. It’s definitely a mental game, just having confidence that you are capable of it. Once you have that then you can really start working on actually catching the ball.’’
The story added that Williams is an intelligent player and is going to pick the brains of veteran running backs like Frank Gore and LeSean McCoy this offseason, along with his continuing dialogue with Giants’ veteran back Rashad Jennings. Any improvement in the pass-catching game could give Williams the edge to a more significant role next year. Jennings is approaching old age in terms of RBs (will be 30 in March) and was banged up in 2014.
Tom Coughlin has been told that he will return to Giants in 2015, but still has a meeting with John Mara today about potential staff changes.
The Giants have played much better in the second half and have been aided by WR Odell Beckham Jr. and his bust-out rookie season. QB Eli Manning and the rest of the offense seem to have a much better grasp of OC Ben McAdoo's system than they did in preseason and in the early part of 2014. Perhaps the fall comes on the defensive side.
Giants beat writer Dan Graziano on WR Odell Beckham: ...what we're watching with Beckham on a weekly basis (a daily one, in fact, when you take into account his practice antics) is a player gifted with such raw athleticism that he stands out on a field whose other occupants are also world-class athletes. He's impressive in all facets. He runs great routes. He has great hands. He plays bigger than his 5-foot-11 size would indicate, because he has the ability to outjump defenders and locate the ball in the air before they do. He has the blazing speed you've seen. Really, from a raw talent standpoint, he's the total package. What he's doing is even more incredible due to the facts that he missed all of training camp and the first four games of the season with a hamstring injury, and that he and Victor Cruz played only two games together. Eli Manning is targeting Beckham pretty much all the time, and it's working. Expect to see a lot of him.
Since his season started in Week 5, Beckham is the #2 fantasy receiver, averaging 7.1 catches for 97 yards and 0.9 TD. He will be drafted in the 1st or 2nd round in 2015 fantasy drafts.
Receiver Rueben Randle did not start Sunday and was benched for the entire first quarter — the second time in the past three games he has been disciplined by Tom Coughlin.
“That’s between Rueben and I,’’ the coach said after the 24-13 victory over the Redskins.
Two weeks ago, Randle did not play in the first quarter in Jacksonville because he was late to a team meeting earlier in the week. This time, Randle again ran afoul of Coughlin.
“Things not always going to go your way, so when adversity hits you, got to pull through and make the best of it,’’ Randle said.
This is a troubling slide for Randle, who has had a disappointing season and has shrunk as rookie Odell Beckham Jr. has ascended, the story pointed out. He let the first two passes thrown his way slip through his hands and ended up with two receptions for 30 yards. He did make a difficult, in-traffic 18-yard grab in the fourth quarter on third-and-8 to set up Beckham’s third touchdown. Eli Manning said it throws off the rhythm of things when referring to Randle.
Friday, December 12, 2014, 6:26pm
Giants QB Eli Manning (back, probable) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week and is probable for Week 15. Manning is good to go for a great matchup against the Redskins.
Thursday, December 11, 2014, 6:32pm
Wednesday, December 10, 2014, 6:25pm
Tuesday, October 28, 2014, 10:24am
But now, he has another set of instructions: Let it rip.
During his annual state of the organization on Monday, Reese said that he sees the offense under new coordinator Ben McAdoo as one that is developing some cautious tendencies.
Manning, he thinks, can take things in another direction by being more aggressive.
"I just think, as an offense, we have to be more aggressive," Reese said. "I think at times we're a little bit almost too cautious with what we're doing offensively. This is the National Football League. You've got to go out there and you have to win the game. You can't think something's going to fall into your lap. You've got to go out and take the games. I think we have to be more aggressive offensively. I appreciate Eli taking care of the ball and not turning it over because that correlates to wins a lot of the time, but you can't be too cautious."
The story pointed out that under the team's previous offensive coordinator, Kevin Gilbride, a system was in place where Manning could take more calculated shots down field than many other quarterbacks. It was the team's choice not to hire a coordinator with knowledge of that offense when Gilbride retired back in January.
The team announced Tuesday that wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan has been placed on season-ending injured reserve with a dreaded mid-foot sprain. He will wear a protective boot and rehab the foot.
Jernigan looked like a huge sleeper candidate in 2014 until the team drafted Beckham. Then Jernigan was back in the picture with Beckham unable to get on the field much of camp. But now, it's another blow to the Giants offense. Although Jernigan closed out the 2013 season in impressive fashion with 237 yards over the final three games, he managed just 40 yards on nine targets as Eli Manning's No. 3 receiver this month. A free agent in 2015, he's a good bet to seek greener pastures, the story said. Corey Washington could get more action if Beckham can't go this week.
Saturday, September 13, 2014, 1:35pm
Arizona's Patrick Peterson is a Pro Bowl and All-Pro player. And while he has in the past slipped inside to guard receivers in the slot -- where Cruz resides on a regular basis -- he's unlikely to do it on Sunday when the Giants welcome the Arizona Cardinals in their home opener.
When asked about it this week, Peterson told Cardinals reporters that Cruz was "an inside guy." He then went on to explain that he didn't expect to move around until Arizona plays the 49ers and top wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
"Now next week when we play San Francisco, not to jump ahead, when we get to those guys, that's when you'll start to see a little matching up, here and there," Peterson said.
The Giants had trouble getting Cruz the ball in the opener. He had two receptions 24 yards on Monday night in Detroit, and expressed a need the following day to get the ball earlier and more often, even if he did drop a pair of passes. Both he and Rueben Randle didn't appear on the same page as Eli Manning several times when Manning changed the play. The bad news is Peterson will be on someone, perhaps Randle, on Sunday afternoon.
Friday, September 12, 2014, 7:30pm
Panthers QB Cam Newton (ribs, probable) took full practice reps all week and is probable for Week 2. Newton is good to go for a date with a historically inept Lions pass defense. Detroit did a pretty good job against Eli Manning and Co. on Monday night, but that’s not saying much at this point.
Friday, September 12, 2014, 12:45pm
Giants beat writer Dan Graziano: He's still not much of a blocker, which means he won't be on the field for every snap, but if you're hard up for a tight end, you can expect Larry Donnell to be the one who keeps catching passes from Eli Manning. The Giants view Donnell as their best pass-catching tight end, and he should be a significant part of the target game plan this week against an Arizona defense that's been vulnerable to tight end production since last year.
Graziano is right. Donnell played 52 of 60 snaps last week and the Cardinals have struggled to stop opposing tight ends.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014, 6:34pm
On opening night, the Giants went 3-of-13 on third down and averaged fewer than five yards per pass. The same receivers who could not get open in the preseason could not get open in the regular season. Eli Manning netted fewer than 150 yards passing.
Did the players think this lack of rhythm would last so long?
"It's hard to tell, but honestly, I thought those problems would have been over," WR Victor Cruz said on a conference call Tuesday. "I thought we'd get into a rhythm mainly because we were playing a full four quarters, we were playing more than we were in the preseason. But it's unfortunate we didn't come out and have the rhythm that I thought we'd have.
"The great part is that it's just Week 1."
The Giants offense looked bad against Detroit and Manning and the receivers appeared to not be on the same page several times. RB Rashad Jennings struggled in the first half to find holes before breaking a couple off in the second half and adding a TD. No Giant is all that safe of a fantasy play at this point, outside of Jennings as a lower-end RB who looks like he'll at least get a big workload.
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