During a recent podcast, ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell explained why it's so difficult to come back from patellar tendon ruptures.
"It's this big tendon that anchors your quad, that large muscle in the front of your thigh, to your shin," she said. "So when it ruptures, essentially you incapacitate your quad. That's why guys go down in a heap when the injury happens."
"If you look at what Victor Cruz said later in the season, he said, 'I believe that calf injury came from me compensating always having that leg -- because it was on the opposite side -- had to do all the work while I was recovering from the patellar tendon injury,'" Bell said.
"A study just published in June of this year in the American Journal of Sports Medicine looked at orthopedic procedures on over 550 NFL athletes," Bell said. "And of all the different surgeries that these guys have, those who fared the worst when it comes to rate of return to play and performance metrics like yards gained and touchdowns scored, [it was] patellar tendon repair.
"And their careers were shortened overall significantly. It's not to say that one individual can't come back and be phenomenal, but it's telling you that the odds are against them in terms of returning to form."
Through the first 12 weeks, Graham was the #9 tight end in both standard and PPR formats. It was disappointing production given his history as a top fantasy threat, and now he has to recover from a torn patellar tendon injury. If he's healthy for training camp, we expect that he'll be one of the first 10-12 tight ends off the board on draft day, but that’s looking like a "big if."
Those who follow the Giants were asked who had the best spring, and here is one opinion to keep in mind:
JOHN SCHMEELK: I’m going to go with a real sleeper and go with TE Will Tye. I thought he did a wonderful job all of OTA’s and minicamps adjusting his body to make difficult catches. He caught everything that came in his direction and showed remarkable consistency for a second-year player.
Tye essentially took over as the Giants’ starter in Week 8, and was the #13 tight end in standard formats from that point on. From Week 9 to Week 17, he had the 10th-most targets at his position. If he can keep the job this summer, he's a guy to target late in fantasy drafts as the TE position has always been a big red zone target for QB Eli Manning.
Giants beat writer James Kratch answered a question about the team's RB situation:
I expect the Giants to start the season with Rashad Jennings as their starting running back and Shane Vereen as the third down/hurry-up back, with Andre Williams being the short-yardage/change-of-pace guy.
I think rookie Paul Perkins could definitely make an impact, but my guess is that would come later in the season. If Jennings stays healthy, I think he can be the Giants' first 1,000-yard rusher since Ahmad Bradshaw in 2012.
Kratch said it helped last year the Gaints broke up the RB committee down the stretch and as a result Jennings took over as the hot hand behind an improved offensive line. Jennings is 30th on our RB list but is another later-round selection who could produce as part of your fantasy committee.
The comparisons between Sterling Shepard and Odell Beckham aren’t just in the unrelated complements from evaluators. Giants’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo flat-out mistook Sterling Shepard for Odell Beckham Jr. :
"I'll tell you, I was looking at tape the other day and we had a receiver doing some things against us and I told the staff we have to do a better job there against Odell (Beckham, Jr.). And then I looked again and it was not Odell - it was actually Shepard."
It's a good sign for Shepard if his own defensive coordinator can't tell him apart from one of the best receivers in the league. It appears that Shepard is going to play starter's snaps regardless of the status of Victor Cruz. Rueben Randle was the #32 WR in PPR formats serving as the Giants' WR2 last year.
Monday, June 20, 2016, 9:40pm
The biggest surprise of spring football was, by far, Victor Cruz getting some reps during team drills at minicamp. Leading up to the three-day camp it seemed the team wasn’t going to have him participate in team drills until training camp. Instead, he would continue to do individual work on the side, most notably conditioning drills with the training staff.
That plan changed as Cruz ran routes and caught passes against air as well as defenders during jog-through. This was yet another physical step in the right direction as he works his way back from knee and calf injuries but, most important, it was a positive from a mental standpoint in terms of building confidence in what he’ll be able to accomplish during training camp.
Saturday, June 18, 2016, 2:57pm
Geramy Davis, last year’s sixth-round pick out of UConn, played in 10 games as a rookie but recorded just two receptions for 21 yards. So he entered spring as somewhat of a question mark, but he made the most of his reps during OTAs and minicamp. Davis saw a lot of time with Eli Manning and racked up the receptions with the first-team offense. That included a tough touchdown catch this week going against veteran cornerback Janoris Jenkins.
“Geremy is a bright guy,” Manning said. “He knows the offense very well. He studies hard. He’s really in tune with what his assignments are. He’s got great size. He’s one of our bigger receivers. You can move him around and put him in different spots. He’s going to be really keyed into what his assignment is, so that’s always helpful. Hopefully he can step up and get on a roll and make some plays for us come game time.”
"He's going to be a phenomenal player," Beckham said Tuesday after the Giants opened their three-day mandatory minicamp. "I just feel like I really know what he's capable of, and I'd rather let him just shock the world than spill his secrets."
"He can run routes, he can catch, he can pretty much do it all. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing him develop," Beckham said, adding that Shepard has adjusted well to the Giants' offense after a few understandable early rough patches while learning the system."
Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told reporters on Tuesday that Darren McFadden recently had surgery on a broken elbow he suffered in an accident at his home. McFadden is out for a couple months, and may or may not be ready for Dallas' season opener against the New York Giants in September.
If there was ever much doubt, this should cement Ezekiel Elliott's status as the RB1. Alfred Morris will likely serve as Elliott's backup as long as McFadden is sidelined. Rookie running backs who are drafted in the early rounds of fantasy drafts tend to outperform their veteran counterparts, but no rookies in recent memory have been drafted as early as Elliott is being drafted this year (in the 1st round).
There has been nothing but raves for Sterling Shepard, the second-round receiver out of Oklahoma, who has drawn comparisons to both a healthy Victor Cruz and to Odell Beckham. He has flashed terrific speed and great hands throughout the Giants' spring drills and appears to be a lock to land in the starting lineup.
The mini-camp drills will be more of the same — no contact, no game-planning — but it'll be more of an opportunity to watch him one-on-one against the Giants' best cornerbacks. So far he's been up to the challenge and the excitement over the 22-year-old sure has seemed justified.
Shepard's fantasy value will depend somewhat on the status of Victor Cruz, but it appears that the rookie may start even if Cruz is 100 percent.
Giants beat writer Ralph Vacchiano on the team's TE situation: I think a lot of my take is going to depend on how healthy Larry Donnell is come training camp. If he’s healthy, I think he’ll probably be the No. 1 guy given his experience, his receiving ability and his blocking skills. If he’s not healthy, it could be Will Tye. And I wouldn’t rule out some combination of the two of them.
Tye essentially took over as the Giants’ starter in Week 8, and was the #13 tight end in standard formats from that point on. From Week 9 to Week 17, he had the 10th-most targets at his position. If he wins the job this summer, he’ll be a good late-round target for owners looking for value at the position. The same can be said of Donnell. Over the past 24 games, he has averaged 3.8 catches for 35 yards and 0.33 TD. Those are fringe TE1 numbers.
The latest no-name tight end to bubble to the surface with the Giants may already be making his move at organized team activities. Matt LaCosse has consistently been making plays this spring, and earned a large chunk of first-team snaps during Wednesday's OTA workout which was open to the media.
With a slightly more well rounded skill set, LaCosse – an undrafted rookie in his second season out of Illinois – is already pushing Donnell and Tye, the last two in a long line of unknown Giants tight ends to make a surprise impact working with quarterback Eli Manning.
The early reviews from OTAs show LaCosse making plays. He lined up wide right on Wednesday and made a leaping catch over safety Landon Collins deep down the right sideline. He reached back and plucked a ball off his back shoulder in the end zone on Thursday.
Every day, it seems he's catching passes in live drills. It's making it possible to envision LaCosse (despite a rare fumble on Wednesday) as this year's Donnell or Tye, even with Donnell and Tye still on the roster.
LaCosse may already be the best blocking tight end currently on the Giants roster, even if his competition in that regard isn't very strong.
Our money is on Will Tye to win the job, but it sounds as if LaCosse is making a push. If he's able to replicate Tye's receiving ability and add additional value as a blocker, he may win the job.
Giants beat writer Jordan Raanan:
There is hope with the way Will Tye flashed in the second half of last season that he can build on that and become a dangerous receiving option. His athleticism and pass-catching potential makes him my choice to start Week 1, especially given the uncertainty that remains with Larry Donnell returning from a broken bone in his neck.
Tye essentially took over as the Giants’ starter in Week 8, and was the #13 tight end in standard formats from that point on. From Week 9 to Week 17, he had the 10th-most targets at his position. If he wins the job this summer, he’ll be a good late-round target for owners looking for value at the position.
Ralph Vacchiano discusses the Giants' backfield:
Rashad Jennings, who I like a lot more than most fans (and media) seem to like, will be the likely workhorse and get the majority of carries. (By the way, hard as it is to believe, he got 48.3% of the carries last year, though I'd expect that to tick up.) Shane Vereen will again be the third-down back and primary receiver-out-of-the-backfield weapon. Maybe they get a little more creative with him. Maybe he just plays better. But I see him being more of a factor.
And then? Good question. I don't think Paul Perkins, their fifth-round pick, will have much of an impact in the offense this year. I think Andre Williams will likely get the first shot to be the short-yardage back, and the guy who spells Jennings for a series or two. How long that lasts depends on him. And I think Orleans Darkwa and Bobby Rainey have an uphill battle to make the roster.
Vacchiano also mentioned that the RB breakdown may depend on which coach came up with the "stupid" four-running back rotation the team used last year. If it was the now-departed Tom Coughlin, then the Giants will primarily use two or three running backs. If it was former OC/new HC Ben McAdoo, then all bets are off.
Second-round wide receiver Sterling Shepard is in the best position to make a significant impact. The Giants targeted him early in the draft process as a wideout they liked, and coach Ben McAdoo sees him as a player he can use all over the formation in a variety of roles as a complement to star Odell Beckham Jr. With Rueben Randle gone and Victor Cruz still a major question mark as he attempts his comeback from knee and calf injuries, there's an opening for a No. 2 wide receiver in New York. Shepard will get every opportunity to lock down the role for the short and long term, and he has the skill set to do it.
The only thing standing in the way of a major role for Shepard is Cruz and his balky knee and calf. If Cruz looks like his old self, then the Giants will probably let Shepard grow into a larger role, but if Cruz doesn't have a great offseason then Shepard will be thrust into a major role immediately. He could fill the Randall Cobb role in Ben McAdoo's offense.
Cruz is on board with his boss's optimism, telling NJ Advance Media he feels he is back to full strength as he continues to rehab the rare calf injury that cost him the entire 2015 season.
"I'm feeling great. Workouts have been going amazing. Each day, it gets better and better," Cruz said on Friday afternoon while making an appearance during a free children's health screening seminar here in his hometown at the Boys and Girls Club.
"I'm excited to continue to train, continue that pattern, and see where it takes me. ... I'm 100 percent. I feel good. No injuries, no ailments, nothing hurts, no pain."
Cruz has not played in a game since October of 2014, when he suffered a right patellar tear. And his comeback attempt never materialized last year, as a series of false starts with a nagging calf injury eventually led to season-ending surgery without the former Paterson Catholic star playing a down.
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