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How the Giants plan to prepare for the NFL’s dirtiest player

November 10, 2016 | 7:28pm

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Odell Beckham Jr. and Vontaze Burfict Photo: Getty Images; AP

 

He all but tried to decapitate and did concuss Antonio Brown in the playoffs, and he was such a repeat offender the NFL suspended him three games for the start of this season for violating its player-safety rules.

He is Pro Football’s Dirtiest Player, which means Beware, Odell Beckham Jr., on Monday night.

When receivers talk about keeping their head on a swivel, they are talking about the clear and present danger presented by Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Ask Brown. Ask Ravens tight end Maxx Williams, whose head and neck were greeted by the crown of Burfict’s helmet last season even while he was out of the play. Ask Cam Newton, whose surgically repaired ankle was twisted by Burfict following a tackle on the goal line. Ask Martellus Bennett, hit in the back of the knee by Burfict.


This is the wrong guy to trot your Big Blue Bull’s-eye anywhere near.

“I’m very aware of who he is and where he’ll be at on the field,” Beckham told The Post. “I don’t want to sit here and say he’s the player that everybody’s trying to box him to be, I’m sure he’s not that guy. I don’t quite know him exactly like that, but …

“You just gotta be aware. Protect yourself.”

Burfict sounds like the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde off the field and on it.

“Cool off the field, on the field, you never know,” Beckham said. “You just gotta keep your head up … play football.”

Told Burfict is considered by many the dirtiest player in football, a crown Ndamukong Suh used to wear, Beckham seemed philosophical.

“Once somebody gets labeled something, it’s hard to get out of that anyways,” Beckham said. “Once you get put in that box, there’s no really getting out, ’cause it’s always gonna resort back to that.

“He could turn into a modern-day Buddhist, and still, one little incident, he sneezed on somebody wrong, and he’s back to being a dirty player.”

Beckham will nevertheless be aware of Burfict when he ventures over the middle.

“One thousand percent,” Beckham said. “I’m aware of anybody when I’m going across the middle. You don’t really want to take any of those.”

Once upon a time, there was a St. Louis Cardinals guard named Conrad Dobler, who would bite opponents in the trenches and leg whip them and punched Mean Joe Greene and kicked Merlin Olsen and wound up on the cover of the July 25, 1977, Sports Illustrated cover with “Pro Football’s Dirtiest Player” printed above his photo. “If they played every game under a full moon,” one foe said, “Dobler would make All-Pro.”

There was former Raiders safety Jack Tatum, who wrote a book entitled “They Call Me Assassin,” who left Darryl Stingley a quadriplegic following a violent collision, who once said: “I like to believe that my best hits border on felonious assault.”

There was former ’roid-rage linebacker Bill Romanowski, who broke Kerry Collins’ jaw and spit in the face of J.J. Stokes.

 

Burfict, who has contributed more than $275,000 in fine money to Roger Goodell’s kitty, is a worthy successor.

The good news is Burfict will not be covering Beckham. The bad news is Josh Norman is the equivalent of a mosquito bite compared to how hazardous to a receiver’s health Burfict can be.

“I love Burfict; that’s all I got for you,” said former Bengals teammate Leon Hall, now a Giants’ defensive back.

Why do you love him?

“I just like him as a person,” Hall said. “In general, I like him as a football player. I’m sure he’d like to have some things back, but that’s what makes him as good as he is.”

Beware, The Dirtiest Man In Football.

“We got to be aware of everyone, but obviously he’s a guy that likes to be physical, and we just got to make sure we got an eye on him when we’re coming on those shallow routes and we’re coming across the middle,” Victor Cruz told The Post, “keeping our head on a swivel.”

Cruz watched a replay of Burfict’s hit on Brown a couple of days ago as part of his preparation.

“You just want to make sure that you’re never in that position, because he likes to hit hard, and he’s obviously gotten in trouble for some excessive hitting and some things like that,” Cruz said. “So you just want to make sure you know where he is when you’re coming across the middle and try to, you know, take care of yourself.”

Nobody’s perfect. But nobody’s Burfict.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Eli Manning was a mess — and this Giants disaster falls on him

December 5, 2016 | 2:25am | Updated

 

MORE FROM: Steve Serby

PITTSBURGH — This was a Steel Hurtin’ all right, a day when those two Super Bowl championships seemed like distant memories, a day when Giants fans would have traded Eli Manning for Ben Roethlisberger in a Big Apple minute.

This was a test of their mettle, and Manning and the 8-4 Giants, 24-14 losers, were anything but iron men with iron wills.

This was a jolting, jarring slap in the face, the first blast of December football that left the Giants’ six-game winning streak strewn across Heinz Field, a sobering and humbling reminder that the road to the playoffs is littered with desperate teams fighting every bit as fiercely as they are for January football.

Bring on the Cowboys?

Yeah, right.

These aren’t the Steel Curtain Steelers of yesteryear, with “Mean” Joe Greene and L.C. Greenwood and Jack Lambert and that crew, but on a day when the Giants needed Manning to lift them, carry them past Big Ben and keep the NFC East title dream alive, he looked as if he were seeing ghosts.

Manning threw two interceptions, including the critical mistake from which the Giants could not recover.

Victor Cruz shouldn’t have bothered making the trip. He was targeted the same number of times as Amani Toomer.

Manning was 9 yards away from taking the lead in the second quarter when he looked for Larry Donnell, of all people, in the end zone.

And didn’t get enough air under it.

And found Lawrence Timmons at the 2 instead.

And Timmons returned the gift interception 58 yards to the Giants’ 40.

Three plays later, Roethlisberger escaped the pocket to his right and hit Antonio Brown with the 22-yard TD pass against Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins that made it Steelers 11, Giants 0.

“I tried to squeeze it in there,” Manning said. “I thought I could get it high enough to Larry Donnell and kinda put it on that back shoulder a little. Lawrence got a little wider than I thought and thought I could get it there. Obviously any interception’s a bad decision, so it obviously hurts when it takes away points.”

It was an uphill climb the rest of the way, and Manning couldn’t climb it.

Maybe you can beat the Browns scoring seven points in 59 minutes.

Not the Steelers.

And certainly not the Cowboys.

And if Ben McAdoo doesn’t fix it quick, the Giants will be in big wild-card trouble.

“We need to be more efficient,” McAdoo said.

Manning was 1 yard from a first down and 3 yards from a touchdown midway through the third quarter when, after all the inefficiency and listlessness and disjointedness, he had finally begun targeting Odell Beckham Jr. and connecting with him and from the shotgun, forced an incompletion under duress over the middle to tight end Will Tye, who was blanketed by Ryan Shazier, when running back Paul Perkins was virtually free in the left flat and a better option.

“Had pressure right up the middle, and tried to hit to Will quickly,” Manning said. “Good defensive call by them.”

The Giants defense soon gifted Manning the ball at the Pittsburgh 17 when Damon “Snacks” Harrison stripped Le’Veon Bell and Eli Apple recovered. Two plays later, Manning faked an end-around to Beckham and tossed a screen right to Rashad Jennings for the 13-yard touchdown that made it Steelers 14, Giants 7 with 6:30 remaining in the third quarter.

But Big Ben immediately answered the bell when Landon Collins lost tight end Ladarius Green on the 20-yard TD pass that made it Steelers 21, Giants 7.

Apple then gifted Manning the ball with an interception at the Giants’ 47, but on fourth-and-13, as Manning scrambled out of the pocket to his right, he threw across his body, an underthrow for Sterling Shepard, who was open early, that was intercepted by Sean Davis.

“If he could have got a little more mustard on the ball, we had a chance for a big play, but it’s tough running to the right and throwing back across your body,” McAdoo said.

He later missed an open Shepard from the Pittsburgh 24. The Giants cannot win big games with Manning’s downfield game in disrepair, if he is able to complete one pass — on one target — to Beckham for 10 yards in the first half, and forgetting Cruz was back on the team. He targeted Beckham 17 times in the second half.

“It really came down to those red-zone trips where we got no points off,” Manning said.

There is no margin for these errors by Manning on another day when he has no running game and finds himself down 2-0 thanks to an end-zone holding penalty on offensive lineman Ereck Flowers.

By the time it was Steelers 14, Giants 0 at intermission, Manning had completed nine passes, and six of them were to Jennings and Tye.

The defense, which has been burdened all season with covering for the offense, was Ben And Break early. Late in the first half, when Roethlisberger needed 17 yards on third down, he flipped a middle screen to Eli Rogers and got 18 to position Randy Bullock for a chippie field goal.

Manning struggled with the deep ball in Cleveland and this was more of the same right from the gitgo. A prayer for tight end Jerrell Adams wasn’t answered and interference was called on a disbelieving Beckham.

“You never know when we can break out,” Manning said.

They’ve been saying that from the start of the season.

“We just gotta do a better job to help our defense out,” Beckham said.

Bring on the Cowboys?

Yeah, right.

“It’s a big game, and we gotta win this one,” Manning said.

If he doesn’t play better than this, if he doesn’t play better than Dak Prescott, if he doesn’t start getting his team in the end zone, they won’t.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Giants’ defense gets surprise boost from versatile vet

December 15, 2016 | 2:05am

 

Well into this season, Devon Kennard was informed he not only would be playing strong side linebacker, but he was wanted, and needed, as a pass rusher at defensive end. That was just great with Kennard.

Then came the “but.’’ He also was wanted and needed at defensive tackle, inside, where Damon “Snacks’’ Harrison and Johnathan Hankins — the big boys — play.

“The first thing I thought was, if it’s [a running play] they run right at me and I’m inside, that’s going to be something really new for me, getting a double-team by a center and guard or guard and tackle,’’ Kennard told The Post on Wednesday.

“It happened once in a game, and it ended up we got a stop so it was fine. It’s definitely different. I’m not Hank or Snacks. I always joke with the linebackers, I go, ‘If I get a double-team, you all better come and hit those gaps ASAP. Don’t leave that double-team on me too long.’ ”

Kennard was laughing as he spoke, happy his role within a rollicking Giants defense has expanded.

“I think it’s something I’m growing at,’’ Kennard said. “Especially rushing inside, that’s something I’ve never done. I feel like I’m a versatile, multiple-type player who can do a lot of different things, and they’re starting to use me as such.’’

At 6-foot-3 and 251 pounds, Kennard has a chiseled physique and could be the picture in the dictionary under “ideal strong side linebacker size.’’

kennard-2.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=218Devon KennardPhoto: Getty Images

A 2014 fifth-round pick from USC, Kennard started six games as a rookie and had 4.5 sacks. At last, it looked like the Giants had a mid-round, home-grown legitimate linebacker prospect. Injuries limited him to nine games last season and stunted his development. This season, he was filling a complementary role on defense until the game against the Rams in London. That is when Kennard’s three-position role was hatched. With the loss of Jason Pierre-Paul to abdominal surgery, Kennard’s snap count figures to rise.

He spends most of his time in the linebacker meeting room, but on occasion sticks his head into the defensive line room to check out the pass-rush plan for the week.

“I have to know everything,’’ he said.

Kennard made an impact in the Giants’ 10-7 victory over the Cowboys despite playing just 39 of the 66 defensive snaps. He dropped Ezekiel Elliott for a 6-yard loss and sacked Dak Prescott for a 6-yard loss in the second quarter, forcing a fumble that Dallas offensive lineman Doug Free was able to recover. It was the first sack for Kennard in more than two years.

Kennard will enter 2017 on the final year of his contract. The more he can do, and do well, will make him a more desirable player for the Giants, or anyone else out there.

“Absolutely,’’ he said. “I feel there’s a lot I can do on the football field and I’ve done some of everything, I feel whatever position they put me in, if they allow me to work at it and grow as a player at it I can excel anywhere on the football field, whether it’s true linebacker, playing in nickel situations like I did last year or if it’s just base linebacker, which I’ve done this year. And now rushing, I feel if you give me the time to mature into what you’re asking me to do and learn and figure it out I can excel at whatever.’’

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Meet the ‘Savages’: The Giants force with a Super Bowl vision

December 18, 2016 | 8:24pm

 

Odell Beckham Jr. readily concedes that Defense Wins Championships, and if you don’t think these Giants can win the Super Bowl, you better think again.

Beware the New York Football Giants.

“Hey, if we score 17 points and the defense holds ’em to six, our offense is good enough for me,” Beckham said after Giants 17, Lions 6, “so we’ll keep doing what we’re doing.”

What they are doing is providing Déjà Blue reminders all over again to the glory days of yesteryear, mostly Déjà Big Blue, carrying an offense that is dangerous only when Eli Manning gets the ball in Beckham’s hands. Or, in this case, his left hand, the only hand Beckham needed for a Beckham-esque 4-yard touchdown in the right flat that iced the game.

As he walked out of the locker room, he was asked to describe the personality of his defense. He needed just one word, just as he sometimes needs only one hand.

“Savages,” he told The Post.

You could have put No. 56 jerseys on all 11 of them. Or No. 13 jerseys. Remember, they have been doing this without Jason Pierre-Paul, and in the first minute of the second quarter Sunday, they lost Janoris Jenkins (back). So Leon Hall forces a Zach Zenner fumble at the Giants 4 in the second quarter and beastly Olivier Vernon recovers it in the end zone. So Damon “Snacks” Harrison, Johnathan Hankins, Landon Collins and Vernon strangulate the Motown running game. So Matthew Stafford guns for his ninth fourth-quarter comeback and Big Blue refuses to let him in the end zone.

Savages.

“We all want to be great, we all want to be known, and that’s how we play,” Collins said, “we play like savages, yeah.”

They defended every last yard, made every yard The Longest Yard.

Savages.

“It’s right on course, right on course,” Jonathan Casillas. “I like it. We’re turning into that for real as it approaches the last few weeks of the season. I think that’s a pretty good name for us.”

With left guard Justin Pugh back, the Giants ran the ball better (32 attempts, 114 yards), Eli Manning played error-free, and Big Blue defiantly held the fort until Beckham (six receptions, 64 yards) used his left hand as a Venus Fly Trap.

“It just kinda happens,” he said. “You practice it, you practice it. It’s why you practice right-hand layups, you practice left-hand layups.

“Pretty much all my life I wanted to be left-handed. Just could never really make that happen, so I try my very best, I brush my teeth with my left hand, shoot basketball with my left hand. I try my very best if I’m good at one thing be good at the other.”

Beckham was standing on the bench exhorting Giants fans when Big Blue had Stafford pinned deep in his own end late in the fourth quarter. I asked him what he likes best about his defense.

“I think it’s the swagger,” he said. “They don’t just come here Sunday and turn it on. It’s every day in practice. They come up with turnovers in practice, they come up with stops in practice. They practice the way that they play. It’s great to be on a team where it feels like family. And it’s been that way since the beginning of the year.

“I’ve been preaching about Super Bowl this year. You don’t just say that stuff just to say that stuff. You speak things into existence, I truly believe that. And that’s what we’re doing right now, we’re trying our very best to the Super Bowl, that’s the goal. And it starts one game at a time.”

This is swagger:

“No matter what the other team presents to us,” Casillas said, “I feel like we have the answer.”

They’re in it to win it once they get in it, and at 10-4, it is now a game of clinches for the Giants.

“I said it before, I heard offense wins games, defense wins championship, so if they keep playing like that, I guess we have nothing to worry about,” Beckham said.

“But at the same time, like going back to the greedy thing, I just want more for us. I want to see Vic [Cruz] in the end zone twice, I want to see Shep [sterling Shepard] in the end zone twice, I want to see the running backs rush for 175 yards, 500-something total yards, putting up 35, 40 points. Like seeing the Madden numbers almost, video-game numbers. As selfish as it is for me to request that every single time and not be OK with anything less than that, that’s something that I’m working on myself.”

Imagine how scary this team would be if Manning (20-of-28, 201 yards, 2 TDs) gets hot.

“I feel like we left some meat on the bone,” Beckham said. “The breakout game is coming soon.”

Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard that before. In the meantime, have no fear, the Savages are here, with Beckham always ready to lend a hand.

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Giants' road to the playoffs: Win and in, other possible scenarios

By Ralph Vacchiano | Dec 20 | 7:30AM

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RalphPic_93z5jd5l.pngRalph Vacchiano | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

 

 

This is all you really need to know about the Giants' playoff scenarios:

Win on Thursday night in Philadelphia and they are in.

It's that simple, which is a rarity this time of year when figuring out tiebreaker scenarios is more confusing than trying to figure out which bulb is broken on the string of Christmas lights over your garage, thus causing 100 feet of lights to suddenly go out. (Hint: It's the last one you check -- always.) The tiebreakers and scenarios can be even more confusing when you factor in ties. Usually I don't, but there have already been a couple of ties this year.

That's why you should keep it simple. In fact, a win by the Giants not only clinches a playoff spot but I'm pretty sure it clinches at least the No. 5 seed -- or top wild card spot. Yes, the NFC East isn't out of reach yet, but the wild card remains the more likely scenario. And at this point, the Giants are looking at a first-round trip to Detroit. Or maybe Green Bay. Or possibly Atlanta or Seattle.

But forget all that for the moment and focus on the simple second sentence of this story. Win and they're in.

In case you can't just keep it simple, here's everything else you need to know:

Yes, Virginia, the Giants can still win the NFC East. They need to win at Philadelphia and at Washington in their final two games and hope the Cowboys lose at home against the Lions and at Philly in their finale. It's possible, but don't forget that no team coached by someone other than Ben McAdoo has beaten the Cowboys this year. So if the Cowboys suddenly lose their last two games, they'd have bigger problems than losing the division title.

No, the Giants haven't clinched yet. And it all has to do with one nightmare, three-way tie scenario:

The Giants are the odd team out if they finish in a three-way tie for two spots at 10-6 with the Bucs and Lions. (Forget the Packers, because if they get to 10-6 they win the NFC North on tiebreakers over the Lions.) As far as I can tell, that's the only way the Giants don't get in the playoffs with 10 wins thanks to the Redskins' loss to the Panthers on Monday night.

And yes, it's more complicated than it sounds. The Bucs have to go 10-6 and not win the NFC South, which means the Falcons (9-5) have to go 2-0 to lock up the division. (I believe if the Falcons go 1-1 the Bucs win the division and the Giants would not miss the playoffs in a three-way tiebreaker with the Lions and Falcons.) And the Lions (9-5) have to go 10-6 and not win the division, which means the Packers (8-6) have to finish 2-0 to lock up the NFC North (on tie-breakers by beating the Lions twice, as I just said). And since the Lions and Packers play in the season finale and the Packers have to win that game to make this fantasy come true, the Lions have to win in Dallas on Dec. 26 to get their 10th win.

So … are keeping up with me so far? If the Giants go 0-2, the Bucs go 2-0, the Lions go 1-1 by winning in Dallas but losing at home to the Packers and they all finish 10-6 (deep breath here), the Falcons go 2-0 and the Packers go 2-0 to win their divisions then the Bucs, Giants and Lions are all tied at 10-6 for two wild-card spots.

In that scenario, with three teams tied from different divisions, the NFL first works to figure out the top team (or the No. 5 seed in this case) and the first tiebreaker is "head-to-head sweep," which isn't applicable in this case since the Bucs haven't played either team. The next tie-breaker is conference record. And in this scenario, the Bucs would be 8-4, the Lions would be 8-4 and the Giants would be 7-5. So the Giants would be "eliminated" from the No. 5 seed and the Lions would end up getting it based on the next tie-breaker - common games.

Then the NFL would work to determine the sixth seed between the Bucs and the Giants and the first tie-breaker, again, would be head-to-head, which is again not applicable. The second tiebreaker is conference record, which the Giants would again lose (8-4 to 7-5).

So the Giants would be out. And I'm pretty sure that's the only way.

Which means …

If the Giants do lose out, can they still make the playoffs? Why, yes … yes they can. They would simply need to avoid those nightmare scenario that I just painstakingly outlined above. So the Giants would just need a loss by either the Bucs or Packers to get one of the two wild-card spots. A Lions loss in Dallas next week would also do it, since either the Lions or Packers have to lose in Week 17. One of them, in that scenario, would win the division. The other would have only 9 wins.

How do ties factor in? Shut up.

So, in summary … Win and they're in. Try to forget everything else for now.

(IMPORTANT NOTE: I'm really good at math, but they didn't teach tiebreakers in AP Algebra in High School, so I reserve the right to change and update this as new information becomes available - or, you know, if any of you point out mistakes).

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Giants rip Redskins’ heart out on road to clash with Packers

January 1, 2017 | 7:32pm

More On: new york giants

LANDOVER, Md. — Eli Manning did not say he had that feeling, but he has a certain feeling he has felt before and the Giants are hoping their franchise quarterback is onto something.

“Proud of this team,’’ Manning said. “I think there’s a uniqueness and something special about this squad of guys. We are finding ways to win games. Not perfect, it could be prettier at times but we are winning games. That is a good quality to have.’’

The Giants have a quality that allows them to keep playing at a time when the NFL truly gets down and dirty. They closed out a successful and eye-opening regular season Sunday with a 19-10 victory over the Redskins at FedEx Field, eliminating Washington from the playoffs and allowing the Giants to head into the postseason feeling pretty darn good about themselves.

“I like this football team,’’ first-year head coach Ben McAdoo said. “I think we have talented men of integrity in the locker room and that’s where it starts and that’s where it ends.’’

There is no end in sight for the Giants (11-5), who will end a five-year playoff drought this weekend in Green Bay.

This is the third time since 2007 the Giants will face the Packers in a playoff game at hallowed Lambeau Field. The Giants are 2-0 in those games, but they were beaten by the Packers at Lambeau 23-16 on Oct. 9.

“Obviously Green Bay beating us, I think we did some good things at the very end of that game that gave us confidence to go out there and play those guys,’’ guard Justin Pugh said.

Said linebacker Keenan Robinson: “You got a guy like [Aaron] Rodgers, when the playoffs come around, he really turns it on.’’

The Giants had nothing to play for Sunday, already locked into the No. 5 seed, yet sent an NFC East rival packing with another pulverizing defensive performance featuring two interceptions of Kirk Cousins by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, utter disdain for the Redskins ground game and four sacks coming from all sorts of angles. Once again, the defensive bludgeoning made up for an incomplete offensive showing. The Giants ran for a season-high 161 yards — rookie Paul Perkins (102 yards) became the first Giants player this season to hit the century mark — but scored just 13 points on offense. That is not going to cut it in the playoffs. They got their final touchdown when cornerback Trevin Wade scooped up a desperation backwards lateral by Jordan Reed and ran 11 yards with the fumble recovery into the end zone with no time remaining.

dk.jpg?quality=90&strip=all&w=300&strip=Devon Kennard celebrates sacking Kirk Cousins.Getty Images

“I mean obviously we want to pick it up,’’ Manning said.

The Giants ended the season scoring 14, 10, 17, 19 and 19 points in their final five games.

The game had all the meaning in the world for the Redskins, who were in a win-and-in scenario as far as their playoff fate. They lost and are out, eliminated by an NFC East rival that did not mind at all being the team to send the Skins packing. The Redskins fell behind 10-0 at halftime and the Giants looked like the team that needed to win to stay alive.

“I think they made us flat,’’ Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “Giants made us flat. Terrible start.’’

Fittingly, the Giants sealed the game with a defensive gem, with Rodgers-Cromartie intercepting Cousins with 1:12 remaining. Cousins was looking for Pierre Garcon but instead found DRC, a turnover that killed the Redskins’ season.

True to his word, McAdoo played his starters and never really made any mass substitutions, though backups were sprinkled in liberally in the second half. McAdoo was most cautious with Odell Beckham Jr., who did not play much in the second half and finished with five catches for 44 yards. Beckham kept his poise even though his nemesis, cornerback Josh Norman, tried to bait him and was called for two penalties against Beckham: an unnecessary roughness call in the second quarter and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the third quarter.

“I personally feel like it’s been dead for a long time, I feel like I put that to bed,’’ Beckham said of his history with Norman. “If I sneeze wrong it might be a problem so I felt like today I just did a good job of just coming out and playing football and trusting coach and his decisions.’’

McAdoo said limiting Beckham’s snaps in the second half had nothing to do with saving Beckham from Norman. “It had zero factor,’’ McAdoo said. “At some point and time in the game I was going to take him out of the game.’’

The Giants led 10-0 at halftime and played it conservatively on offense in the second half. The Redskins tied the game on Cousins’ 1-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jordan Reed with 8:13 remaining.

With the crowd finally engaged and the intensity rising, the Giants found the winning points on an eight-play, 58-yard drive fueled almost entirely by Manning’s best throw of the game: an all-in-the-air 44-yarder to seldom-used Tavarres King, who went out of bounds on the Washington 25-yard line. That set up Robbie Gould’s 40-yards field goal with 2:12 remaining.

“Ten wins are good but 11 is awesome,’’ linebacker Jonathan Casillas said. “I don’t remember the last time the Giants did that. It’s a good way to finish the regular season and will give us some momentum moving into the playoffs.’’

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Perception is the only real issue for party-hearty Giants

January 3, 2017 | 1:15am

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Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Getty Images

 

MORE FROM: Steve Serby

Anyone who knows Odell Beckham Jr. — and the list on Sunday night in Miami Beach included Justin Bieber, Khloe Kardashian, Trey Songz, Fabolous and, gulp, Johnny Manziel — knows how driven he is to win a Super Bowl.

And anyone who knows Victor Cruz knows how much it means to him to be back in the playoffs chasing his second and possibly last chance to salsa in a Super Bowl in his beloved No. 80 Giants jersey.

And when Beckham, Cruz and rookie receivers Sterling Shepard and Roger Lewis Jr. show up Tuesday morning at the Quest Diagnostics Center for Ben McAdoo’s team meeting, they will begin preparation for Sunday’s wild-card playoff game in Green Bay with as much seriousness and dedication as anyone perhaps except Eli Manning, who wouldn’t know Justin Bieber from Justin Pugh.

McAdoo made as much of an issue of his boys being boys in their spare time at the start of his first playoff week as head coach as Bill Parcells used to make when Lawrence Taylor would show up on no sleep on Sunday’s at 1 p.m. and then proceed to chase the quarterback from one end of Giants Stadium to the other and sack him three times or so and wreck the game.

And remember when John Matuszak skipped out on the Raiders’ 11 p.m. bed check to go dancing on Bourbon Street until 3 a.m. three days before Super Bowl XV? “I asked him, ‘John, do you really think at 6-7, 315 pounds you wouldn’t be noticed on Bourbon Street?” Oakland coach Tom Flores said once. “He said, ‘Coach, I was out making sure everyone else was in.’ To keep from laughing, I just said, ‘Get out of here, go to your meeting.’ ”

And while the Raiders ran up $15,000 fines for breaking team rules that week, tightly wound Eagles coach Dick Vermeil enforced curfew every night. The Raiders won 27-10.

In a 2013 interview with Playboy, this was Broadway Joe Namath: “I spent the nights before the Jets’ two biggest games that year — for the AFL championship and the Super Bowl — with girls. But I don’t consider that bad or foolish of me. Look, I’m a football player, and that’s my number one thing. I’m not about to take a chance on how I perform by breaking my own schedule. But I’ve been playing football for a long time, and by now, I know what I should do and shouldn’t do to stay ready at all times. The night before a game, I prepare myself both mentally and physically for the next day. I think a ballplayer has to be relaxed to play well; and if that involves being with a girl that night, he should do it. If some ballplayers don’t feel that way, they shouldn’t do it. But I feel that way.”

McAdoo treats his players like men, and if he has any problem with them jetting away for some shirtless fun on a boat on their off day, he will never take it public, and if he or anyone else in the organization had an issue with it, it would be because it is not a particularly great optic with so much on the line so soon, and opens you up for social media derision.

Tony Romo is referenced even now because he took Jessica Simpson on a well-documented bye week Cabo vacation … and then lost a playoff game at home to the Giants.

“You don’t go to Cabo the week before a playoff game. You just don’t do it,” Troy Aikman railed afterwards. “It didn’t take away from his preparations. I know that. But to say, ‘I don’t worry about perception,’ you better worry about perception, because it’s a big part of making it through some very difficult times.”

For the party-hearty Giants receivers, they should understand there is a catch to all this:

If you allow the spotlight of celebrity to shine down on you just before you embark on the journey of a lifetime, you better show up and perform like Giants.

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Giants deny report that they trashed plane after season-ending loss to Packers
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Tuesday, January 10, 2017, 1:32 AM

The Giants unequivocally denied a Monday report that their players had trashed a United plane on the flight home from Sunday’s season-ending 38-13 loss in Green Bay.

“That is false,” a team spokesman said.

Now, Odell Beckham Jr. certainly has a reputation for destroying property after reportedly punching that hole in the wall at Lambeau Field Sunday night. But on Monday, several Giants players didn’t even understand the question when asked about the rumored plane incident, first reported by United passengers on Twitter.

“Listen to this,” one Giants player said to a teammate when approached, as if to say ‘Get a load of this guy.’”

There was reportedly a mechanical issue, in fact, that delayed the plane scheduled to operate United Flight 934 from Newark to London’s Heathrow Airport at 8:30 a.m. Monday. So there was an aircraft swap, creating a delay.

The flight didn’t take off until 11:47 a.m.

NO FLOWERS POWER

The Giants used the No. 9 overall pick on Ereck Flowers in 2015, and the offensive lineman has failed to live up to expectations in his first two NFL seasons.

 

gnotesweb10s-1-web.jpg The Giants seem perplexed after being asked if they trashed a plane. (Jerry Lai/USA Today Sports)

Jerry Reese provided a blunt assessment of Flowers’ development Monday, insinuating the Miami product could lose his job as the Giants’ starting left tackle.

“He’s still a young player. But it’s time for him to show us the fruits of being a first-round draft pick,” the Giants GM said. “I still think he has a chance to do that. We’ll evaluate that. Is he the left tackle? Should he be in a different position? We’ll evaluate all that. But I do think he’s a big, strong kid that has a chance to be a really good player.”

Flowers’ struggles this year came primarily in pass protection, where he appeared overmatched against edge rushers. He was called for a league-leading nine offensive holding penalties in the regular season. And the Packers’ Clay Matthews burned Flowers for a strip sack and fumble recovery in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s loss.

“He’s learning to trust is technique,” Ben McAdoo said. “With young players, the way they come into the league now, they have to take a leap of faith with their technique as far as the bending, keeping your elbows tight and striking with your hands in pass protection, finishing the way you’re capable of finishing. Those are things that need to improve.”

McAdoo was then asked if he’s content with Flowers’ progress this season.

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HEAR IT: Mike Francesa rips Giants star Odell Beckham, urging him to ‘grow up’ and not turn into another Jeremy Shockey
notre-dame-cincinatti.jpg Mike Francesa is not entertained by Odell Beckham's antics. (Sipkin, Corey, New York Daily Ne/New York Daily News)
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Monday, January 9, 2017, 3:20 PM

Mike Francesa would like to see Odell Beckham catch the ball or “get lawst.”

The Sports Pope opened his Monday afternoon show discussing the Giants playoff debacle and early exit from the playoffs following a 38-13 loss to the Packers. He refused to get into the receivers partying on a boat in Miami last week, noting it was only a sign of immaturity, as was the receivers taking warmups without shirts.

“Nobody cares if he wears sleeves, catch the ball. Nobody cares if he’s out there with no shirt on, catch the ball. Nobody cares if you can make one handed catches, try making two handed catches!” shouted Francesa. “Catch the ball. Grow up.”

7582796o.jpg Mike Francesa said the Giants should tell Odell Beckham Jr. to grow up before he becomes the next Jeremy Shockey. (Szagola/CSM/REX/Shutterstock)

Francesa added that maybe someone in the Giants organization will help Beckham so that he won’t turn into Jeremy Shockey Part 2.0., saying the former giant tight end left people saying “he never really was as good as we thought he was going to be.”

GIANTS KEEP 'EM, DUMP 'EM: Time to VOTE on who stays and who goes

The radio host said the whole idea of being a celebrity has come to Beckham in spite of him not winning first.

“Now you become a star by outrageous behavior and doing something outrageous like making a one-handed catch when basically you drop every fourth ball,” Francesa said. “I’d rather a guy who doesn’t make one-handed catches, but doesn’t ever have a problem making two-handed catches.”

Ever since the loss, the Giants have been getting heat for their partying and many are pointing to it as a sign that they weren’t focused enough to beat the Packers.

giants-packers-football.jpg Odell Beckham Jr. failed to make catches in the big moments on Sunday's Wild Card game against the Packers. (Matt Ludtke/AP)

Francesa also felt the Giants failed to make a statement by warming up without a shirt, noting how the Packers win games in the cold all the time.

Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz don’t address media on breakup day

“You know how you show those guys that the cold doesn’t bother you? By catching the ball!” Francesa exclaimed. “They’re not going to be impressed that you’re running around with your shirt off, they don’t care.”

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The pieces Giants GM must find to get Eli Manning one more title

January 9, 2017 | 8:56pm

 

Jerry Reese broke the bank for Steve Spagnuolo last offseason and Big Blue carried Eli Manning back to the playoffs.

And even as the Giants must begin to think about formulating a succession plan for Manning, first they owe it to him to get him more help so he can chase that third Super Bowl championship once more with feeling.

And now.

Before it is too late.

Manning has enough left in his 36-year-old arm to capture that elusive third ring.

But he needs better protection, and a pass-catching tight end and/or big target he can depend on.

And he needs it before his window closes forever.

“Thirty-six, I don’t think that is ancient for a quarterback,” Reese said. “I think he is probably on the back nine, but I don’t think that is ancient for a quarterback, and he is taking care of himself really well, and I thought he finished the season strong.”

Remember though, that Manning (26 TDs, 16 INTs) was not able to carry his team on his back when it needed carrying, and the Giants failed to reach 20 points even once over the last six games of the season.

Even armed as he is with a beautiful football mind and command of the Ben McAdoo offense, everyone wondered whether Playoff Eli would suddenly materialize against the Packers. He made enough good throws to give the Giants a chance against Aaron Rodgers had Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard caught them.

“I thought my arm strength is good,” Manning said. “I still can make the deep throws and make all the throws. At my age, I can’t relax. I have to work harder than ever just to stay where I am.”

The Giants aren’t far away.

Manning should have no fewer than two quality years left in the tank.

Beckham is on notice that he needs to grow up and recognize that it is about the game, and not the fame. Shepard should build on his rookie season. Running back Paul Perkins has the goods to be a 1,200-yard rusher. Rookie tight end Jerell Adams, a potential big target, needs to be developed.

It is critical Reese finds a left tackle somehow, someway (Joe Thomas would be a godsend, even at 32) and moves Ereck Flowers to the right side because there were too many times when Manning was anything but comfortable being uncomfortable in the pocket behind his relatively inexperienced bodyguards.

ereckflowers-e1484011988147.jpg?quality=Ereck Flowers reacts after the Giants’ playoff loss.Getty Images

McAdoo won’t be a rookie head coach in 2017. He has the trust and respect of his players. The foundation is strong.

“I think we have a good core of people to be an explosive and top offense,” Manning said. “Some guys have to play better and some guys have to step up. I have to get better and play better.”

More help from the 18th-ranked running game would also ease the burden on him, and growth from Perkins and perhaps a fullback at the point of attack can only help.

It would be negligent, nevertheless, for the Giants to stick their heads in the sand and fail to prepare for the inevitable, for Life After Eli, whenever that may be.

And as we saw in Indianapolis with his Big Brother Peyton once the Colts were bad enough to Suck For Luck, you just never know.

Bill Belichick used the 62nd pick of the 2014 NFL Draft on Jimmy Garoppolo at a time when Tom Brady was three months from his 37th birthday. Eyebrows were raised in New England. Because Brady is a freak of nature, Belichick will now have a nice bargaining chip when he trades Garoppolo this offseason.

Brett Favre was six months shy of his 36th birthday when Packers GM Ted Thompson drafted Rodgers with the 24th pick in 2005. No one, especially Favre, expected that. Rodgers waited his turn until the Packers decided it was time to give him the keys to the kingdom and trade Favre to the Jets for what became a third-round pick before the 2008 season.

It was the kind of tough, gut-wrenching decision most franchises face, and the best ones have vision.

Reese was asked about thinking about drafting a quarterback this offseason.

“We always think about every position,” he said. “But Eli is 36, and we have started to think about who is the next quarterback, and who is in line, so we will look into that as we move into the offseason.”

Smart.

But go all in on getting your 36-year-old quarterback back to his third Super Bowl first.



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  • 1 month later...

Adrian Peterson continues to throw himself at Giants, this time on Twitter

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2017, 12:56 AM
ap16s-web.jpg It sounds like Adrian Peterson really, really wants to be a New York Giant. (Andy Clayton-King/AP)

 

Adrian Peterson can’t stop pitching himself to the Giants.

Just weeks after saying on ESPN that Big Blue is a team he’s “thought about” playing for in the 2017 season, AP tweeted late Wednesday that the Giants have “been making some interesting moves.”

While they just released wide receiver Victor Cruz, it’s likely the most “interesting” move Peterson is talking about is the release of running back Rashad Jennings.

That leaves Paul Perkins as the Giants’ primary back heading into next season.

It's a no-brainer: Here's why Giants should sign Adrian Peterson

Besides the knee issue that sidelined the 31-year-old Peterson for 13 games in 2016, there are other roadblocks in the way of him suiting up for Big Blue.

For starters, he is under contract for one more year in Minnesota.

Peterson will make $11.75 million in the final year of his three-year deal if he stays a Viking, which is a big if seeing how that’s an awful lot for an aging running back coming off a serious injury.

And then there's the child abuse incident of 2014 when Peterson pleaded no contest to beating his 4-year-old son with a switch (small tree branch). It's not likely the Giants would want to sign AP considering what they went through last year with kicker Josh Brown who admitted to physically and emotionally abusing his then-wife, prompting the team to eventually release him after media pressure.

Regardless, if Peterson is eventually cut by Minnesota, the latest “interesting” moves Giants general manager Jerry Reese has made may leave the team with enough money to sign AP.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Former Giants cornerback Will Allen sentenced to six years in prison for part in Ponzi scheme

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, March 1, 2017, 3:29 PM

 

Former Giants cornerback Will Allen was sentenced to six years in jail for his role in a Ponzi scheme, according to Law360.

The former cornerback was hoping to get a break from the judge and his attorneys were seeking a 2-and-a-half-year sentence for pleading guilty to four of the 23 counts against him. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud and other charges in November 2016.

51592270dp-d023449019.jpg Will Allen spent five seasons with the Giants from 2001-2005. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Instead he was told by the judge he was “in denial.”

The Sporting News reports Allen and business partner Susan Daub were obtaining loans from investors saying they’d use them for athletes. Instead, the duo ended up only paying out $22 million of the $35 million they collected.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Reese no longer on the Giants' hot seat

By Ralph Vacchiano | Mar 28 | 10:45AM

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AP_17009753551327_8mmjih2y_50nfbtaz.jpg (AP)

RalphPic_93z5jd5l.pngRalph Vacchiano, NFL Insider | Facebook | Twitter | Archive

PHOENIX - At the miserable end of the 2015 season, as the Giants were basically firing Tom Coughlin, John Mara wasn't willing to let his general manager completely off the hook. He officially put Jerry Reese on notice when he said "Jerry knows this is on him."

A $200 million spending spree, an 11-5 record, and a return to the playoffs later, it appears that Reese isn't on the Giants' hot seat anymore.

"There was a lot of heat on Jerry," Giants co-owner Steve Tisch said during the NFL Owners Meetings on Monday at the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. "John Mara, my partner, made it very clear to Jerry that 'We're watching you and we have very high expectations, and it's really your time to deliver, Jerry.' So the moves he made last season, clearly in retrospect, were hugely significant and changed the whole defense of the team.

"I'm thrilled that Jerry accepted the challenge, acknowledged what he had to do, and he did it. That doesn't happen every time. That doesn't happen really that often. Jerry has done a fantastic job."

There's no doubt that the moves Reese made contributed to the Giants' turnaround - particularly to a defense that had ranked 32nd in 2015 and because a Top 10 unit again last year. The upgrade in talent was obvious by the signings of defensive end Olivier Vernon (five years, $85 million), defensive tackle Damon Harrison (five years, $46.25 million) and cornerback Janoris Jenkins (five years, $62.5 million), and the re-signing of defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (one year, $10 million).

Reese obviously deserves credit for spending on the right players, but it was certainly good fortune for him that the Giants had all that money to spend.

"We just happened last year to be in great salary cap shape, which we hadn't been for a long time," Mara said. "So it gave us the opportunity to do some things."

Mara wasn't as effusive in his praise of Reese as Tisch was, but he still praised the job he did helping the Giants rebuild. He also declined to take credit for motivating Reese with his strong words.

"I think he did a good job, but I don't think he needed any extra motivation," Mara said. "He wants to win as much as anybody else does. I think he was as unhappy as the rest of us over four years of not making the playoffs."

Overall, Mara said, "We were 11-5 and I think we built a pretty good defense. I think we have a team that can contend next year. I'm just as confident in Jerry as I always have been."

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New York Giants campaign for NFL schedule perk in 2017 The New York Giants hope the NFL grants them a 2017 scheduling perk.
65049785.jpg

The New York Giants are hoping the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell hears their request.

The Giants, who play both the NFC and AFC West divisions in 2017, are hoping the NFL grants them a schedule perk to their liking. The Giants want two of their road games against these divisions to be scheduled in back-to-back weeks. The Giants play the Raiders, 49ers, Broncos, and Cardinals on the road in 2017.

“You can put in requests, but nothing is guaranteed,’’ McAdoo said recently at the NFL owners’ meetings, via The Post.

If the NFL grants this request, the Giants have another one they will make. If the Giants get the back-to-back games, McAdoo said “there’s a possibility’’ he would ask ownership to allow the team to stay on the West Coast for the entire week between games, via The Post.

McAdoo's plan would be to set up a suitable practice site where the Giants can stay. This would help the team avoid the wear and tear of the back-and-forth travel to each coast. If McAdoo does make this request, it seems very likely that co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch will grant it.

The NFL recently moved the Giants' fourth-round 2017 draft pick back several spots as punishment for their use of walkie-talkies on the sidelines during the team's Week 14 win over the Cowboys. That could play a factor in the NFL's decision on whether or not to grant the Giants this scheduling perk.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mel Kiper Jr. predicts Giants' first three rounds in mock draft The New York Giants go defense early in Mel Kiper's new three-round mock draft.

The 2017 NFL Draft is just one week away and ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has just dropped his three-round mock draft encompassing Day 1 and 2.

The New York Giants took a different approach in Kiper's mock draft than most would expect with the focus on defense in the early rounds.

Kiper published his three-round mock draft Tuesday, via ESPN, and he has the Giants selecting the following players in each round:

Round 1 (23): Charles Harris, DE, Missouri
Round 2 (55): Marcus Williams, S, Utah
Round 3 (87): Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma

Here is Kiper's rationale for each pick:

I'm not sold on the Giants' offensive tackles, but for now, I'm going with a pass-rusher who can spell
and
. Harris is a versatile defender who could play for all 32 teams. He had 16 sacks the past two seasons. Last year's third-round pick,
, missed most of the 2016 season because of injury, and we still don't know if he's the long-term answer at free safety. Williams is a super athletic (43½-inch vertical) center fielder who would fit alongside
. Perine is just a bully. At 5-foot-11, 233 pounds, he steamrollers defenders. New York had one of the worst rushing offenses in the league last season, and Perine brings value late in the third round.

Harris has been a fast riser up draft boards in recent weeks. ESPN's Jordan Raanan mentioned Harris as someone who NFL circles are much higher on than the media consensus. And as you know -- the Giants motto goes something like this -- "you can never have too many pass rushers." Harris has explosive burst around the edge and advanced moves to get after the quarterback. If the Giants did select Harris, it would mean that we would be seeing a lot more of Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon kicked inside to defensive tackle on obvious pass downs and other situations where defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo wants to get his best pass rushers on the field at the same time.

 

Williams is an interesting pick for the Giants in round two. The Giants are very high on 2016 third-round safety Darian Thompson, but they do prefer to use nickel defense more than their base. Spagnuolo uses a variation of five defensive backs and has preferred to use three safeties on the field at once in the past when his personnel made sense for him to do that. Williams could play a deep half role and allow Thompson to kick down inside the box more often and defend the slot. It would be a very intriguing pick that adds more speed and athleticism to a budding Giants secondary.

Perine is someone who has been commonly mocked to the Giants in the middle rounds. Although he is not as explosive as his Oklahoma counterpart Joe Mixon, Perine comes with none of the off-field baggage. Perine is a load at nearly 230 pounds and his best asset is his ability to create yards after contact. Perine is a nice fit too for the Giants considering they already have Paul Perkins on the roster and could be looking for a red zone and short-yardage back to pair with him.

Of course, in Kiper's three-round mock, the Giants do not address one of their biggest needs -- offensive tackle and linebacker. These needs would likey be addressed in the later rounds. This is not a far-fetched prediction from Kiper. The Giants have stuck true to their draft board and often pass on need to select the highest-rated player on their draft board regardless of position.

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  • 1 month later...

Odell Beckham finally admits he’s missing Giants OTAs because of money

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Wednesday, June 7, 2017, 2:10 AM
beckhamcol7s-web.jpg Odell Beckham, 24, is scheduled to make $1.8 million in base salary this coming season and then $8.4 million in 2017. (Michael Perez/AP)

 

Odell Beckham Jr. showed his strongest sign yet Tuesday night that his absence from Giants OTAs is about the money.

And if it’s not a holdout, it sure looks like one now.

Beckham retweeted a link from the website FanSided that contained a video of ESPN reporter Adam Schefter talking as if he were Beckham’s agent on ESPN Radio, saying Beckham shouldn’t show up again in East Rutherford until the Giants rip up Beckham’s rookie deal and pay him what he is worth.

Beckham, 24, is scheduled to make $1.8 million in base salary this season and then $8.4 million in 2017, in the fifth-year option the Giants recently picked up.

But an NFL player and his team are allowed to revisit and renegotiate his rookie deal after three years of service, which Beckham has completed.

And his salary pales in comparison to contracts such as that of Beckham’s good friend Antonio Brown, 28. Brown is now worth a league-high $17 million per year for receivers, per overthecap.com, and received a $19 million signing bonus on his latest extension.

Beckham also is good friends with Broncos end Von Miller, 28, who went to the wire in a contentious post-Super Bowl negotiation with Denver before signing just prior to the franchise tender deadline last July to a record six-year, $114.5 million deal that included $70 million in guarantees.

Beckham recently received a five-year, $29 million extension from Nike, so he’s not hurting for spare change. But if his Tuesday retweet is any indication, it appears he does not intend to report until he has a new Giants contract, too.

beckhamcol7s-qhw-web.jpg Beckham recently received a five-year, $29 million extension from Nike, so he's not hurting for spare change. (Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

It now remains to be seen whether Beckham still intends to attend next week’s three-day Giants’ mandatory minicamp, which he told NFL Network in late May he was planning to do.

Schefter said in the Tuesday radio clip that if he were advising Beckham, he wouldn’t show up at an OTA, a mandatory minicamp, training camp, or anything until he received a new deal. And Beckham retweeted that sentiment.

Beckham also did not show at the David Tyree Charity Bowl at Lucky Strike off Times Square on Tuesday night, an event that the PR agency in charge, Relevant Communications, repeatedly had touted would be headlined by Beckham and Olivier Vernon.

Vernon has been a no-show at Giants OTAs so far just like Beckham. But unlike the receiver, Vernon flew up from Miami just for Tuesday’s event and then said he definitely will be attending next week’s Giants mandatory minicamp Tuesday through Thursday.

Regarding his continued absence from East Rutherford, Vernon said: “I just know when I get back with my teammates, we’re gonna be alright. That’s all I know. I know those guys are working hard right now, and so am I.”

Vernon has been working out with his former University of Miami strength coach, Andreu Swasey. Vernon, who played most of his first season as a Giant with a broken hand, also said that he's “good to go” and healthy.

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5 burning questions heading into Giants training camp

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Saturday, July 22, 2017, 1:00 PM
630772642.jpg Odell Beckham Jr. skipped all of the Giants’ voluntary OTA practices this offseason. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

 

The 2017 Giants could have it all: New York and the NFL in the palms of their hands.

And so on Thursday, they are not just opening Ben McAdoo’s second training camp as head coach. They are officially resuming their quest for the franchise’s fifth Super Bowl. There is no use hiding from it.

The Giants’ expectations for themselves are that high, as is the pressure that accompanies an 11-5 record and playoff berth in 2016, a roster headlined by stars on both offense and defense, and the New York market.

But the sting of a blowout Wild Card playoff loss in Green Bay still lingers, and the Giants know there are no guarantees as players report to Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford on Thursday for physicals and conditioning tests, with camp’s first practice scheduled for Friday.

Brandon Marshall quits interview after questions about race

So here are the Daily News’ five burning questions entering a Giants training camp that everyone is — to use a McAdoo favorite — “chomping at the bit” to get underway:

 

1. WILL ODELL BECKHAM JR.’S CONTRACT BECOME AN ISSUE?

Beckham, 24, the Giants’ transcendent star receiver, skipped all of the Giants’ voluntary OTA practices this offseason, reportedly over his contract. Beckham attended the mandatory minicamp in June and said a couple times that he does not believe in holdouts, but he also played a role in trumpeting reports of his discontent on Twitter and then didn’t squash the conversation when it blew up. So it’s unknown how Beckham will proceed entering his fourth NFL season, grossly underpaid at $1.8 million for 2017 with an $8.4 million 2018 fifth-year option already exercised.

All that’s certain is Beckham’s actions will impact the team greatly either way: Either he’ll decide to fight over his contract and create an enormous distraction, pitting the team’s best player against management, or he’ll choose to table the issue until next February and possibly clear the way for a truly special Giants season. For now, there is no indication Beckham intends to hold the Giants’ feet to the fire. But if he decides to, there will be no bigger story across the entire league.

2. WILL ELI MANNING OVERCOME ADVERSITY ON AND OFF THE FIELD?

Manning, 36, has three years remaining on his contract as he seeks to win a third Super Bowl. He is looking to bounce back from a down season in 2016 (4,027 yards passing, 6.7 per attempt, 26 TD, 16 INT), while also battling allegations of a lawsuit against him and the Giants of falsely representing memorabilia as game-worn. Manning emphatically denied any wrongdoing in the case this offseason.

Potential Ezekiel Elliott ban would be very good news for Giants

He has a new 6-4 target in receiver Brandon Marshall to help him in the passing game. But 2017 is shaping up as a challenge nonetheless to the veteran QB, with pressure to prove Manning’s window on his playing career isn’t closing, and a potential successor in Davis Webb drafted in April’s third round and waiting in the wings.

 

3. CAN BEN MCADOO TURN THE OFFENSE FROM DISAPPOINTING INTO DYNAMIC?

McAdoo’s third season calling plays for the Giants, and his first as head coach, saw an anemic offense rank 26th of 32 NFL teams in points per game (19.4), 25th in total yards per game (330.7) and 29th in rushing yards per game (88.2). The Giants also were tied for the 8th-most giveaways (27) overall in the league.

The plus side? Marshall (6-4) and rookie tight end Evan Engram (6-3) add size and talent to a receiving corps that already included Beckham (1,367 yards, 10 TDs in 2016) and second-year slot man Sterling Shepard (65 catches, 683 yards, eight TDs as a rookie). Veteran tight end Rhett Ellison (6-5) also signed as a free agent and should help in the run game, where second-year back Paul Perkins enters camp as the presumed starter.

The offensive line even returns all five regular starters from 2016, but that punctuates one of the biggest question marks of all: can third-year left tackle Ereck Flowers, Jerry Reese’s ninth overall pick in 2015, finally protect Manning’s blind side? And can the line block better in the run game to take pressure off both Flowers and Manning? The Giants’ depth at left tackle remains thin. One missing piece could threaten the whole.

JPP doesn’t mind Dak guarantee, says Giants' goal is Super Bowl

giantspreview23s-3-web.jpg Landon Collins (Evan Pinkus/AP)

4. CAN STEVE SPAGNUOLO’S DEFENSE MATCH, OR TOP, ITS 2016 DOMINANCE?

The Giants were a flawed team in 2016, but they won 11 games anyway thanks to a stingy defense led by a pair of first-team All-Pros, strong safety Landon Collins and defensive tackle Damon Harrison, and lockdown corner Janoris “Jackrabbit” Jenkins. Only tackle Johnathan Hankins (Indianapolis Colts) and linebacker Kelvin Sheppard (free agent) are gone from the Giants’ top 12 defenders from 2016, so expectations remain just as high.

But can Big Blue’s defense match its 17.8 points per game allowed from last season, second only to the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots’ 15.6? And can the defense carry this team to the playoffs again if the offense doesn’t do its part? Will Hankins’ absence affect their terrific run D? It’s going to take a better pass rush out of ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon, better linebacker play, a similarly effective season from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to complement second-year pro Eli Apple, and new depth contributions in a defensive backfield that has turned over behind the three top starters. The Giants’ defense is confident, though, and determined to back up 2016.

 

5. CAN THE GIANTS REPLICATE THE HUNGER OF 2016 IN 2017 WITH HIGHER EXPECTATIONS?

This is just human nature. No one expected anything out of the 2016 Giants in McAdoo’s first season, they knew it, and they used their doubters as fuel to announce that the NFL must take Big Blue seriously once again. Their hunger was real, and they snapped a four-year franchise playoff drought because of it.

Now, though, the Giants are no longer underdogs. They’ve regained respect, even without winning the NFC East or a playoff game last year, and so it will be a different challenge to replicate the tenacity and desperation of last season — especially on defense — having already accomplished something in the form of validation last year. Leaders such as Manning, Harrison and Marshall — who never has played in a playoff game — undoubtedly will set the tone that nothing can be taken for granted. But the Giants will need to find that same drive and motivation from a different starting point, with a new group, even if they still have the same goal.

Landon Collins fires back at Dak Prescott: Cowboys won't win

 

 

* * *

GIANTS TRAINING CAMP FACTS

Location: Quest Diagnostics Training Center, East Rutherford

First Practice: Friday at 11:40 a.m.

Open to the Public: Friday-Monday, Aug. 14

Giants WR Sterling Shepard looking to improve in these 2 areas

Camp Ends: Monday, Aug. 14

Key Losses: DT Johnathan Hankins, OT Marshall Newhouse, PK Robbie Gould, CB Coty Sensabaugh

Key Additions: WR Brandon Marshall, DT Corbin Bryant, DE Devin Taylor, S Duke Ihenacho, CB Saqwan Edwards, RB Shaun Draughn, CB Valentino Blake, QB Geno Smith, OG D.J. Fluker, TE/FB Rhett Ellison

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Odell Beckham Jr. bombarded with ‘How 'bout dem Cowboys’ chants while stuck in traffic

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Tuesday, July 25, 2017, 1:50 AM
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Odell Beckham Jr. ran into some loud Cowboys fans while stuck in traffic Monday. (Al Bello/Getty Images)

 

Talk about road rage.

Being stuck in traffic is frustrating in itself. But being stuck in traffic when you’re Odell Beckham Jr. and you’re being harassed by Cowboys fans? Well, that’s a whole other issue.

However, that’s the predicament Beckham found himself in Monday when he was stuck at a red light and soon recognized by a group of Cowboys fans two cars ahead of him.

Beckham, who posted the altercation to his Instagram story, remained silent as the group of Dallas fans yelled, “How ‘bout dem Cowboys?” and other similar chants at the Giants receiver.

Based on the crying emoji Beckham used to caption the incident, he was at least slightly annoyed by the disturbance.

 

 

HERE'S THE VIDEO:

http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/football/giants/odell-beckham-jr-bombarded-cowboys-chants-traffic-article-1.3353335

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sterling Shepard injury scare could force Giants to rethink offensive game plan

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Updated: Thursday, August 3, 2017, 1:31 AM

 

Jerry Reese signed the top free agent receiver this spring and then drafted a tight end in the first round in April. And if it wasn’t clear already why Reese needed not only more weapons but improved depth on offense, Sterling Shepard’s sprained ankle on Wednesday provided a sobering reminder.

Ben McAdoo said Shepard has “a basketball-type ankle” injury, saying he “put his foot in the ground and rolled his ankle.” The coach couldn’t provide a timetable, but bad ankle sprains tend to linger, especially for athletes who routinely cut on a dime. His fellow Giants were obviously affected by the injury, huddling in prayer after practice.

Hours after the injury, Shepard took to Instagram to quell some concerns by posting a picture of himself staring into the heavens with the caption “Why you so good to me!! #allglory2god.” It’s not known when the photo was taken, however.

Even with Shepard on the field in 2016, providing respectable numbers of 65 catches, 683 yards and eight TDs as a rookie, the Giants’ offense was bereft of a consistent game-changing weapon outside of Odell Beckham Jr. They needed to add talent, add bodies, and enhance their attack down the middle of the field.

Giants WR Sterling Shepard carted off practice with ankle sprain

So Reese signed Brandon Marshall. Check. Then he drafted Evan Engram. Check. And soon the Giants’ roster on paper not only stacked up but appeared as if it would be competing on a perpetual man advantage this fall.

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A healthy Sterling Shepard gives Eli Manning an important weapon in the slot.

Where would defenses concentrate coverages in the pass game? Double Beckham? That would leave Marshall in single coverage. Focus on both outside receivers? Engram and Shepard would have a field day.

Eli Manning always has played his best when he has had valuable weapons up the middle and along the hash marks, complementing his targets down the sidelines. Shepard provides that, and he is likely to face more single coverage than any slot receiver in the league given the weapons around him, which has the potential to stretch defenses paper thin.

Be assured: these lofty plans for the Giants offense did not go up in flames on Wednesday when Shepard rolled his ankle during what McAdoo called a “hammer route,” without a defensive back even in coverage on the outdoor fields.

Orleans Darkwa, B.J. Goodson scuffle at Giants camp

The Giants’ aspirations did take the kind of hit, however, that might force McAdoo to rethink how he’ll be able to roll out his offense early and might put extra pressure on Beckham, Marshall and the run game.

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Tavarres King (Kathy Willens/AP)

The question is whether the next man up for the Giants at slot receiver shines while Shepard is out.

Tavarres King and Darius Powe are the leading candidates making the strongest pushes for increased roles, with veteran Dwayne Harris and second-year man Roger Lewis Jr. also in the mix. And McAdoo even showed a glimpse of what the offense might look like in Shepard’s absence, moving Beckham to the slot while running King on the outside opposite Marshall.

King, a former practice squad player, cracked the roster last year and then impressed in two straight weeks to close the season, with a 44-yard catch in Week 17 in Washington and a 41-yard touchdown in the wild-card loss in Green Bay. King, wearing jersey No. 12 now after letting Marshall have his old 15 jersey, saw the most first-team reps Wednesday when Shepard was in the training room.

Geno Smith, Josh Johnson trying to impress despite limited snaps

“Twelve did me some good at Georgia,” King said of his old college number, while refusing to reveal what Marshall paid for the jersey switch. “Nondisclosed,” King said with a grin.

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Giants receivers say a prayer after practice for Sterling Shepard. (Pat Leonard / New York Daily News)

Powe, a practice squad player the full 2016 season, is having the best camp of any non-starting wideout thus far. Powe has been open often and is catching everything. He is a big-bodied receiver out of Cal with a high level of confidence, a will to contribute on special teams, and has been a favorite target of backups Josh Johnson and Geno Smith.

“I sit next to Shep (in the receiver meetings) so I pay attention the whole time when he gets coached,” Powe said of his knowledge of the slot position. “I hope I’ve been open a lot, but I can catch contested balls so it’s no big deal. Just throw the ball up, I’ll catch it…. I feel like (catching balls over the middle) came with being a big receiver, having confidence knowing that DBs probably don’t want to tackle me anyway.”

So it’s encouraging that King and Powe are stepping up. But the uncertainty surrounding Shepard’s injury, despite early optimism, creates a murky forecast of how hard the Giants will need to pivot here after watching him get carted off the field. Shepard was in such obvious pain, after all, that one report said he was crying.

Chad Wheeler working to validate Giants' trust as backup LT

And so this easily could become a situation where the Giants take extreme caution with Shepard the rest of August just to try and get him ready for Week 1 in Dallas.

It was therefore appropriate that a half-hour after Shepard’s injury, thunder started to rumble and lightning began to threaten, forcing the rest of the Giants’ practice inside. And it was also appropriate, that after practice, the Giants’ remaining receivers prayed in the end zone beneath the Lombardi Trophy banners and said a few extra words for their teammate.

“I looked back and he was on the ground,” King said of Shepard’s injury. “We do it daily, but we did give a prayer request up to the Big Man for Shep … Hopefully he’s OK.”

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