Other than attaching “mandatory’’ to the proceedings and calling it a veteran minicamp, the next three days for the Giants will be quite similar to what they have been doing this spring in their organized team activity practices. In fact, coach Pat Shurmur said other than extra meeting time and longer hours in the building, he views what starts up on Tuesday as an extension and not a new phase to the offseason work.
Shurmur has seen nearly 100% participation in the OTAs and every player on the roster is expected for this minicamp. Absentees get fined — it would be a hit of $88,650 for any player missing all three days. Unlike most years, the end of this camp — coming a week earlier than usual — does not signal the end of the offseason program for the Giants, as they finish up with their final four OTAs next week before the team disperses for a break until training camp in late July.
This camp will not decide anything, but it will continue the evaluation process as players delve deeper into the playbook. Here are five areas to watch:
Rabbit and the Bunnies
Cornerback for the Giants is a fascinating position, with Janoris Jenkins the lone established veteran and a bunch of young athletes around him. Surrounding Jackrabbit, Sam Beal, Grant Haley and rookies DeAndre Baker, Julian Love and Corey Ballentine are talented players, all lacking experience. This is preferable to having veterans with middling ability. Beal and Baker continue their battle for a starting outside spot opposite Jenkins, and Love and Haley compete for the slot corner role. These guys are frisky and confident.
Not much can be gleaned as to the progress of the offensive line, as these minicamp practices continue to be non-padded sessions. For now, the health of center Jon Halapio, working with the starters again coming off a fractured ankle, is encouraging. Mike Remmers, signed to move in at right tackle, will wait until the summer to jump in, coming off minor back surgery. This camp gives veteran newcomer Kevin Zeitler more time to acclimate at right guard and provides opportunity for Chad Wheeler (right tackle) and Spencer Pulley (center) to push to be noticed.
Eli and Dan Show
Yes, we realize all eyes on Eli Manning and rookie Daniel Jones are the marching orders, now and forever, as the changing of the guard at quarterback fills everyone’s attention spans. Rightly so. There are other more immediate concerns, though. Jones is not closing the gap on Manning any time soon and there is no true competition for the No. 1 job. In time, the torch will be passed but for now it is not even lit. It would be nice, though, to see a rise in Manning’s productivity in certain situational drills now that he is in the second year of Shurmur’s offensive system. As for Jones, his athleticism — easily superior to Manning’s — surfaced after only a few practices and his arm — considered subpar in many circles — held up as plenty strong, thus far.
The Other Guys
The arrival this week of Odell Beckham Jr. in Cleveland is news, because he took advantage of the voluntary nature of the OTAs to skip out on the majority of them with his new team and because everything with OBJ is news. Left behind in Giants land is a much more low-key group of receivers, led by Sterling Shepard, suddenly no longer the sidekick. Thus far this spring, Shepard looks as if he is upping the ante and embracing the role of leader. Other than veteran free-agent signing Golden Tate — who appears to be a quick study — and rookie Darius Slayton there is loads of familiarity with the offense with returnees Cody Latimer, Corey Coleman, Russell Shepard and Bennie Fowler. Is there strength in numbers? We shall see.
It will be fascinating to see how the pairing of 34-year old Antoine Bethea and 23-year old Jabrill Peppers works out. The Giants believe it could be sensational. Bethea has an edge to him — “This is not my first rodeo,’’ he reminded everyone last week — and Peppers is brimming with skills and it is impossible not to watch him, or hear him, on the field. This relationship needs to come together this summer to fortify the back end of the defense.
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