On an individual level, summers in the NFL boil down to one concern: making a roster.
While nothing is guaranteed, a lane toward that end goal opens up for players who are drafted. For others, an invitation to walk on is all they can ask for. Those players enter camp with nothing more than a number and a locker. It’s then up to them to prove their value come autumn.
It is no easy task, but it is possible. From Victor Cruz to Chase Blackburn, undrafted players make rosters every year, and 2012 was no different.
Here’s a look at such players who have made the cut during Tom Coughlin’s era with the New York Giants:
G Greg Walker (Clemson)
LB Jim Maxwell (Gardner-Webb)
LB T.J. Hollowell (Nebraska)
T Jason Hilliard (Louisville)
DT Damane Duckett (East Carolina)
CB Curtis DeLoatch (North Carolina A&T)
DT Ahmad Childress (Alabama)
WR Chris Davis (Southern)
WR Jason Geathers (Miami)
DE Claude Harriott (Pitt)
OL Josh Parrish (Wash St)
DB Art Thomas (Virginia)
RB Chris Douglas (Duke)
T/G Greg Walker (Clemson)
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So what does a two-time Super Bowl MVP for the New York Giants get asked to talk about most frequently?
Eli Manning answered that question Friday afternoon on “Pro Football Talk Live” with Mike Florio.
“Well this year, it’s been a lot about Peyton with everything that’s going on,” Manning said. “You get some Jets questions, but I guess the main one is how are you going to try to improve this year, how are you going to try to repeat. All of them are pretty easy to answer. The one I enjoy is I like to talk about the Giants and talking about how we’ve worked hard and what our mentality has been this offseason and try to make sure we’re improving and getting better as a team and playing to our potential.”
Entering his ninth season in New York, Manning has experienced the ups and downs and all that comes with playing in the market. He’s currently on the upswing and isn’t worried about how much or how little coverage the defending Super Bowl champions received this offseason.
“When they’re writing about you in the paper, it’s not how much you’re making the headlines, it’s what they’re writing,” Manning said. “Are they writing good things? That’s what we want. We’re not trying to make more headlines. We’re trying to make sure, when we do make them, they’re writing about the quality of play we’re playing on the football field.”
That quality of play will be tested right away when the Giants take on the Cowboys in the first game of the season. It’s a 180 from last year’s series, which didn’t see the two NFC East rivals faceoff until Week 14 as they met twice in the final four games.
While it can be debated which way is better, all Manning knows is Wednesday is a good night to be a football fan.
“These games are exciting,” he said. “Obviously to open up the 2012 season with a division rival, the Cowboys are always a tough team. Last year, the last game of the regular season, we played them and the winner goes to the playoffs. So it’s very fitting that we open the season with them and we know we have to play our best football if we expect to win. They have a lot of ability over there, so it will be a great way to start the season at home on a Wednesday night at our own stadium. It should be a great atmosphere.”
Tags: Eli Manning
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In one of the NFL’s strongest divisions, the defending champs boast the best players, according to Pete Prisco of CBS Sports. The Senior NFL Columnist selected his All-NFC East team with the season opener days away, and 10 Giants made the list – the most of any of the four teams in the division.
Here’s a look at the breakdown along with Prisco’s analysis:
QB — Eli Manning, Giants: It’s not a joke to call him elite anymore. He’s that and more.
FB — Henry Hynoski, Giants: He’s a powerful blocker who should be even more of a factor as the running game improves.
WR — Victor Cruz, Giants: Question with him now is can he do it again. I say he does.
WR — Hakeem Nicks, Giants: He’s big, strong and fast and the Giants’ No. 1 receiver.
C — David Baas, Giants: He missed time last year in his first with the Giants, and it showed. He’s a tough run blocker.
RG — Chris Snee, Giants: Snee, the son-in-law of coach Tom Coughlin, wasn’t great early last season but came on late.
DT — Linval Joseph, Giants: He was one of the unsung heroes of the Giants’ Super run last season.
RE — Jason Pierre-Paul, Giants: Watch what he does this year. He is a force and he is still just learning the game.
SS — Kenny Phillips, Giants: He had his best season in 2011 after he was able to finally stay healthy.
P — Steve Weatherford, Giants: The Giants made a great move picking up this veteran last year.
>> SCHEDULE CHANGE: ‘America’s Game: 2011 New York Giants’ now debuts at 9:00 PM ET on Tuesday, Sept. 4 on NFL Network.
>> New York Giants 2012 NFL Season Preview, Predictions. [NFL.com]
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Giants.com takes you around the locker room as the defending Super Bowl champs wrap up the preseason and prepare for the regular-season opener against the Cowboys.
Now that it’s over, DE Justin Tuck was asked about the mood coming off this preseason.
“It’s been a fun preseason; it’s been a different preseason. I’m excited to see who we’re going to have on this football team because those guys made our coaching staff, and Jerry Reese and his staff’s decisions pretty difficult. Heading into the regular season, I’m excited about it, I’m ready to get going, and we start off with the Dallas Cowboys and that’s going to be very exciting.”
Corneback Jayron Hosley updated his injury status (toe) and talked about his chances of playing against Dallas.
“I’m taking it day-by-day. Right now I’m feeling pretty confident that I’ll be ready, and the trainers have been doing a great job with me. The trainers have been doing a great job of getting me ready, getting me prepared to get back on the field as soon as possible. I’m feeling pretty confident about playing against Dallas.”
On and off practice squads his whole career, RB Andre Brown put together a solid performance in the final preseason game on Wednesday with 14 carries for 55 yards and two catches for 22. He’s been through this routine before as the roster will be finalized to 53 on Friday.
“A bad expert. I feel more comfortable though. I feel that other than the one fumble that I had, I feel as though I put a solid game together. I’m sure I’m capable of playing in the league. I know I’m going to be here or if it’s not here, I’m going to be somewhere and I know that I still believe that it’s going to be my year.”
CB Prince Amukara updated his ankle injury.
“Yeah, I’m out of the walking boot. I’ve been rehabbing, walking better, and it feels a lot better than it did last week. It’s only been six days, so we’re still taking it day-by-day.”
Meanwhile, DE Adewale Ojomo has relished the competitive environment on the defensive line.
“It’s been a great environment. It’s a process. It doesn’t just happen overnight. People don’t see what goes into it. Listening, adjusting and Osi and those guys and Coach Robert Nunn, so it’s just a lot of work. I wasn’t just going to come here because my senior year in college, I had one and a half sacks. Coming in here learning from those guys made a big improvement.”
Also trying to make the roster, WR David Douglas feels like he belongs in the NFL after an impressive training camp and preseason.
“I think so. I just took it day by day from the first day I got out here and that’s really all you can do coming in as a free agent and a rookie trying to make a team. I felt like I came out and I gave it my all every day and that’s really all you can do.”
Tags: Adewale Ojomo, Jayron Hosley, Justin Tuck, Prince Amukamara
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The general manager was recently profiled in The Pacer, the official newspaper of the college in his home state, and spoke about his journey from humble beginnings in Tiptonville to winning his second Super Bowl last season.
“I had to schedule my classes around football and make sure they were balanced. I had to work for my scholarship,” said Reese, who was a grad assistant and then a secondary coach at Martin from 1988 through 1993 after being named team MVP his senior season. “With my background and leadership qualities I learned at UTM by being part of a team, I still use those skills today.
“You’ve always got to dream big. I always dreamed of being head coach at UTM at some point and look where I am now.”
Charley Deal, a close friend and assistant vice chancellor for alumni relations, sees what he’s done today.
“For someone who came from his background, Jerry pushed himself and was hard on himself,” Deal said. “He worked around the clock to make himself better.”
» NFL.com and NFL Network analysts gave their 2012 predictions on stats leaders, MVP, rookie awards, and more. Jason Pierre-Paul appears to be on the short list for Defensive Player of the Year.
» Barden builds on momentum. [Kieran Darcy, ESPNNewYork.com]
» ESPN.com’s NFC East blogger Dan Graziano continued his ranking of the top 20 players in the division. WR Hakeem Nicks came in at No. 6, with five players to go (one player announced a day).
Other Giants in the rankings so far:
8. Justin Tuck, DE, Giants
10. Victor Cruz, WR, Giants
18. Osi Umenyiora, DE, Giants
20. Ahmad Bradshaw, RB, Giants
Tags: Ahmad Bradshaw, Hakeem Nicks, Jason Pierre-Paul, Jerry Reese, Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, Ramses Barden, Victor Cruz
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Final preseason game. Starters on the bench. A 6-3 final score.
Steve Weatherford is jacked.
While a combined three field goals in 60 minutes of play might not be everyone’s favorite brand of football, it did give the punters a workout on Wednesday night as the preseason drew to a close.
There were 18 total punts in the defending champs’ victory, split evenly between the Giants’ Weatherford and the Patriots’ Zoltan Mesko. Weatherford punted nine times (seven in the first half alone) for a 52.0-yard average and a long of 64. He also had boots of 59, 52, 55, and 58 yards, with two downed inside the 20-yard line.
“Having a performance like that going into the regular season, it’s actually a boost of confidence,” he said after the game. “I was confident going into this game, but coming out of this game, I thought I punted really well. There are still some things I want to work on, but for the most part I’m happy walking out of here.”
The amount of punts wasn’t shocking to Weatherford not only because it was the final exhibition game, but also because it was against the Patriots. Despite two elite quarterbacks on each side, a matchup between two teams with a lot of history together often equates to a field position battle.
Case in point: Weatherford punted eight times in last year’s Week 9 matchup, pinning five inside the 20. Then again in Super Bowl XLVI, Weatherford had four punts, three of which were downed inside the 20.
“It was a field position game,” Weatherford said. “It usually is when we play these guys. I think about the last couple times I played them, we both have great quarterbacks – obviously Tom Brady wasn’t playing tonight – but when he is, it’s a field position battle. So tonight they relied on me a little bit, and I was happy with the outcome.”
Punting isn’t his only duty, though. Weatherford held Lawrence Tynes’ late 32-yard field goal, which wound up being the clincher in Wednesday night’s victory. It wasn’t exactly in the mud at Candlestick Park to win the NFC Championship, but it was good to get the rep in before the regular season kicks off in less than a week.
“Tynes has hit some bigger ones than that one,” Weatherford joked. “But it was fun to be a part of.”
Tags: Steve Weatherford
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1) DE Adewale Ojomo – The Giants’ preseason sack leader notched another one when it counted the most. Late in the fourth quarter, Ojomo sack-stripped quarterback Brian Hoyer while Marcus Thomas recovered the football at the New England 17. The play led to Lawrence Tynes’ game-winning field goal.
2) P Steve Weatherford – The punter had a busy night during the preseason finale. He punted nine times for a 52.0-yard average and a long of 64. He also had punts of 59, 52, 55, and 58 yards, with two inside the 20.
3) DE Matt Broha – Starting in place of Jason Pierre-Paul at right defensive end, Broha upheld the seat of honor. He notched 1.5 sacks to go along with five tackles (four solo).
4) WR Ramses Barden – Building off last game’s performance when he scored his first touchdown as a Giant, Barden followed up with four catches for 31 yards (7.8), leading all receivers.
5) K Lawrence Tynes — Tynes knocked in all six of the Giants’ points, including the go-ahead 32-yarder late in the fourth quarter that would seal the game.
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0:00 — FINAL: GIANTS 6, PATRIOTS 3
1:07 — FIELD GOAL: GIANTS. Lawrence Tynes knocks in a 32-yard field goal, giving the Giants a 6-3 lead late in the game.
4:31 — Dan DePalma gets in on the action and makes a 10-yard grab while taking a hard hit.
*Paid attendance announced: 75,530
13:29 — Ojomo moves the pile and helps stop RB Jeff Demps for a loss of 1 at the New England 6.
13:38 — Weatherford downs his seventh punt inside the 20-yard line, his second of the game. Patriots take over at their own 10.
Tags: Adewale Ojomo, Steve Weatherford
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0:00 — GIANTS 3, PATRIOTS 3
1:13 — Jernigan shows what he brings to the table with a 25-yard catch-and-run, injecting the stadium with some life before the final quarter of the preseason.
7: 40 — FIELD GOAL: GIANTS. Lawrence Tynes knocks in a 34-yarder. He is now 7/7 this preseason. Giants 3, Patriots 3 (drive: 13 plays, 64 yards in 7:30)
9:10 — WR Ramses Barden hauls in his fourth catch of the night. He currently leads all receivers in receptions and yards (31).
13:24 — RB Andre Brown breaks a 16-yard run. Brown is getting the bulk of the carries now, has been featured on seven plays during the current drive.
15:00 — Giants will receive the ball to start the second half.
Tags: Andre Brown, Jerrel Jernigan, Lawrence Tynes, Ramses Barden
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0:00 — PATRIOTS 3, GIANTS 0 (key stat: Weatherford punted six times in the half with a long of 64 yards and an average of 55.3)
1:11 — Rueben Randle back to return punts for the first time tonight, signals fair catch.
2:00 — Broha puts a good hit on Mallett for a sack. He has 1.5 on the night.
8:17 — Backup QB David Carr takes over for Manning, who finishes 4/8 for 29 yards.
*Heading into Friday’s roster cuts to 53, this final preseason game is a last chance for fringe players to leave an impression. On defense, players like Matt Broha (3 tackles 0.5 sacks), Dwayne Hendricks (4 tackles), Adewale Ojomo (1 tackle), Craig Marshall (3 tackles, 0.5 sacks), and Markus Kuhn (1 tackle) doing a good job of that so far.
8:27 — FIELD GOAL: PATRIOTS. Patriots 3, Giants 0 (drive 12 plays, 51 yards in 4:58)
15:00 — Matt Broha and Craig Marshall (starting in place of Jason Pierre-Paul and Justin Tuck, respectively) combine for a sack of Patriots QB Ryan Mallett.
Tags: David Carr, Rueben Randle, Steve Weatherford
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