This is the first time the Giants will get to see how it looks when they are (almost) all put together.
Starting Tuesday, all or close to the entirety of the 90-man roster will be present at the Giants’ team facility for a mandatory three-day minicamp. Prior to this, organized team activity practices attracted about 70 players per session at their peak. The top defensive backs opted to work out elsewhere, but all of them are expected to join their teammates this week. First-round pick Kadarius Toney participated in the rookie camp but not the OTAs and, now that he has signed his contract, figures to be on the field with the veterans.
Saquon Barkley continues to rehab from reconstructive knee surgery and is on schedule to commence with individual drills and team work later this summer. He will not take part in the minicamp.
This is an important period for the Giants. There is stability at the helm, as Joe Judge is in his second year; and with Jason Garrett, the offensive coordinator; Patrick Graham, the defensive coordinator; and Thomas McGaughey, the special teams coordinator. The systems are intact and, as a result, returning players will be much further along than they were one year ago.
“It’s a good opportunity to get on the field, get together, get with coaches,” quarterback Daniel Jones said of the OTAs and the minicamp. “Everyone starts hearing the verbiage, hearing the system again, practicing lining up, getting in and out of the huddle, start developing some rapport on the field with the guys. I think we’ve got some good work in with guys and we’ll keep working on it.”
In early April, Jones organized well-attended throwing sessions in Phoenix. This was three weeks before the 2021 NFL Draft and so Jones and Toney have yet to work together, turning this minicamp into the first on-field building-block in their football relationship. Toney, an elusive wide receiver from Florida, has running back traits. The anticipation is he will need plenty of time to acclimate to an NFL playbook, as far as route-running and where he fits into the offensive flow. The more he gets out of the minicamp, the quicker he is able to hit the ground running when training camp opens up July 27
The Giants were one of the youngest teams in the league in 2020 and they do not desperately need any of their draft picks to come in and start from Day 1. They need Toney to make an immediate contribution, though, and hope linebacker Azeez Ojulari, the second-round pick, is at least a factor as a pass rusher in his first season. Whatever they get in 2021 from cornerback Aaron Robinson (third round) and outside linebacker Elerson Smith (fourth round) would be considered a bonus.
“I’m pleased with the way they work,” Judge said. “With rookies, what you see a lot of time is you see a level of improvement week-by-week more so than the vets because they are so young. It’s like watching a bunch of pups grow up. They come in, they drink from a fire hose in rookie minicamp, in terms of just getting on the same page, you have to remember these guys walk down the hallways and just try to remember everyone’s face and names.
“So you start plugging it all together and moving fast going forward. These guys, it slows down for them every week, you know, the scheme, the systems, the terminology. You start seeing their bodies get in better shape. I think one thing with all the rookies right now and talking to a bunch of other teams, they are seeing the same thing. When you get these guys from the draft in the rookie minicamp, they have been so far removed from football training. It’s that combine training, it’s that personal trainer. Kind of let’s go at your own pace. You have to get back into team football where you are moving at a high intensity and higher volume and you’re moving in more team drills.
“I’m pleased with the attention to detail they are giving for us, and the way they are working with the rookie development program and I’m excited to get the pads on and see them go full speed.”
Pads and full speed will wait until training camp; this minicamp is the next-best thing for Judge.