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OTA's Start Today

Mr. P

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The New York Giants begin the OTA (organized team activity) portion of their offseason this week with on-field workouts Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We'll be there Wednesday to see practice and to talk to players and coach Tom Coughlin. Then we'll be back the next two Mondays for in-person coverage leading up to the June 16-18 mandatory minicamp.

Here are three things to watch as this latest phase of the offseason program gets underway this week:

Could Justin Pugh be shifted from right to left tackle in the wake of Will Beatty's injury? Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

1. Offensive line alignment: Obviously, the way the linemen line up on May 27 isn't set in stone and shouldn't be taken as the projected starting offensive line for Week 1. However, in the wake of the Will Beatty injury, it will be interesting to note which combinations the Giants' coaches are interested in trying. Specifically, everyone will want to know who gets the first crack at left tackle. Will it be Justin Pugh, who has started at right tackle the past two seasons? Will it be 21-year-old rookie Ereck Flowers, who was the No. 9 pick in the draft just a few weeks ago? Will it end up having to be someone not on the roster yet? And how will this affect things along the rest of the line? There's no hitting or pads in these practices, but the teams can line up for 11-on-11 drills that allow the coaches to install and practice specific schemes and plays. We will get some sense of how they view their options on the line.

2. Jason Pierre-Paul: The Giants' franchise player still hasn't signed his $14.813 million franchise tender and has been opting out of the voluntary portion of the offseason workouts in order to work out on his own at home. It's possible he shows up and signs the tender this week, but I think we'd all be pretty surprised if that happened. Pierre-Paul was hoping for a long-term deal, and while he hasn't spoken out about any disappointment and things between him and the team seem to be OK, it doesn't make sense for him to expose himself to injury until he absolutely has to. These are voluntary workouts, these OTAs, and while the team would like to have everyone in house, the Giants can't compel Pierre-Paul to attend, and they're really not supposed to criticize him publicly for not attending, either. He'll be here soon enough, and I don't think a training camp holdout is likely. But he's within his rights not to be here if he doesn't want to be at this point in the offseason.

3. Defensive position battles: Who will line up at safety with the first team? Who gets first crack at the starting defensive end spot opposite Pierre-Paul? (And does Pierre-Paul's continued absence open up two spots to allow players to showcase themselves for the coaches?) Who starts at defensive tackle next to Johnathan Hankins? How do they arrange the linebackers? Who's the nickel cornerback? As with the offensive line, nothing we see this week is anywhere close to final. But again, it's always interesting to get a glimpse at what the coaches are thinking about the positions where they have questions and/or competition. Even this early.




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Ebenezer Samuel @ebenezersamuel 32s33 seconds ago East Rutherford, NJ

From left to right, Giants OL during this 11v11: Flowers, Pugh, Richburgh, Schwartz, Marshall Newhouse.


Ebenezer Samuel @ebenezersamuel 42s43 seconds ago East Rutherford, NJ

Interesting Giants defensive line here too: Jenkins, Kuhn, Hankins and Ayers, who looks pretty healthy out there.

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Art Stapleton @art_stapleton 1m1 minute ago

Justin Pugh's move to LG was in the works before Will Beatty's injury. His motivation: "To be the best guard in the league."


Tom Rock @TomRock_Newsday 1m1 minute ago

Damontre Moore said Spags' system is more similar to what he played at Texas A&M. If given oppty, he believes he will thrive.


Tom Rock @TomRock_Newsday 21s21 seconds ago

Damontre Moore is up to 256 lbs. Was at 248 last year. Dropped his body fat too.


Tom Rock @TomRock_Newsday 33s34 seconds ago

Eli says it's good to have Flowers at LT from Day 1 rather than have to move him there midstream. "He'll have mistakes. Get them out now."

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A fresh season with a different defensive coordinator and a host of new players is bound to bring plenty of intrigue. The Giants, for the second year in a row, are trying to reshape part of their team on the fly.

Organized team activities (OTAs) are the first real look at the 90-man roster, or at least most of it. With the media allowed inside the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Wednesday there was plenty that opened eyes, beginning with Justin Pugh at left guard.

That wasn't all though. Other observations I made from the workout:

• Cullen Jenkins played a lot of defensive end

The veteran defensive tackle took an inordinate number of snaps as a defensive end. This could be for one of two reasons.

1) Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was not at the "voluntary" workout. The Giants view Jenkins as their best answer against the run if Pierre-Paul is out of the lineup.

2) They plan to use Jenkins more as an end on running downs in 2015. This is part of their solution after finishing 30th in the NFL in run defense last year.

With Jenkins pushed outside to right defensive end (Pierre-Paul's spot), defensive tackle Markus Kuhn worked a lot with the first team. It's make-or-break time for Kuhn, who is in the final year of his rookie contract and has made minimal impact during his first three seasons.

• Odell Beckham Jr. is at a different level

Even in a limited OTA workout, it's obvious who the best player is on the field. Beckham moves at a different speed than everybody else, and when he catches the ball it's looks unique. He snatches the ball out of the air. The expectation that he will only improve off his breathtaking rookie season is justified.

• Offense on the move

On one play, Beckham began in the backfield, motioned into the slot and wound up matched 1-on-1 with safety Cooper Taylor. Quarterback Eli Manning hit Beckham for a quick completion on an out pattern.

That's a matchup the Giants offense will win almost every time: Beckham vs. a safety. Expect that kind of movement plenty in the second season under offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

"I think that is going to be a lot of the offense," Beckham said. "Moving [Victor Cruz] around, myself, Reuben, Preston [Parker], whoever is in."

LISTEN: This week's Talk Is Cheap podcast discusses best O-line combos

• Landon Collins a free safety?

Teams don't like to use "free" and "strong" safety designations these day. They say they just have safeties.

But the positions still exist. One safety is used more in the box. He's essentially the strong safety. The other as a centerfielder. He's the free safety. If the Giants were to use the starting combo of Cooper Taylor and rookie Landon Collins as they did on Wednesday, Collins would be the "free" safety type. He moves significantly better than Taylor. In fact, it was obvious he moves better than any of the safeties on the field at OTAs. (Reminder: Nat Berhe was on the sideline.)

Even if that is not Collins' ideal role, he might end up as the Giants free safety if Berhe doesn't prove to be a better option.

Other Tidbits:

Third-round pick Mykkele Thompson looked especially raw. If Wednesday is any indication, he's a few years away from being able to play as a safety. Of course, it could just take him time to get used to an NFL practice and system, and he will improve significantly by training camp.

• Defensive Kerry Wynn is a name to watch this summer. He was rotating in with the first team on Wednesday and the Giants were impressed with him last season.

• Despite general manager Jerry Reese insisting that free-agent acquisition Josh Gordy's position was as a safety before the draft, he's working with the cornerbacks at OTAs. Amazing what can happen after adding two safeties in the draft.

• First-team linebackers with Devon Kennard (see below) sidelined by an injury: middle linebacker Jon Beason, weakside linebacker J.T. Thomas, strongside linebacker Jonathan Casillas.

Interesting that Casillas was on the strongside ahead of veteran Jameel McClain, who worked as the second-string middle linebacker. Coach Tom Coughlin said Casillas would compete with Thomas for the starting weakside job at the NFL meetings in March.

• Veteran Trumaine McBride worked as the first-team slot cornerback. It will be his job to win or lose this spring and summer.

• The offensive line combos were:

First team (from left to right) ‐ LT Ereck Flowers, LG Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg, RG John Jerry/Geoff Schwartz, RT Marshall Newhouse

Second team ‐ LT Michael Bamiro, LG Brandon Mosley, C Dallas Reynolds, RG Adam Gettis, RT Emmett Cleary

• Players returning punts at practice were Dwayne Harris, Beckham, Rueben Randle, Preston Parker and Ben Edwards.

• With Harris returning punts, the gunners on the punt unit were Josh Gordy and Geramy Davis. Expect both to be used prominently on special teams.

• Injuries Updates

RG Geoff Schwartz (ankle) ‐ He continues to be brought along slowly after ankle surgery late last year. He had six reps in team drills and is full cleared to practice.

LB Devon Kennard (ankle) ‐ He was in uniform and stretched and warmed up with teammates. His injury is not considered serious.

S Nat Berhe (calf) ‐ He was riding the stationary bike and his injury is also considered minor.

DE Robert Ayers (knee/ankle) ‐ He was carted off the field early in practice but no significant damage was found in either the ankle or knee.



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