Saquon Barkley Speaking To Odell Beckham Jr. Pre-draft: “I’m going to be a Giant”

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants selected Penn State standout Saquon Barkley with the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft, and it was exactly what the star-studded running back envisioned for his future in football.

Barkley’s friendship with Odell Beckham Jr. dates back to before the draft even took place, and it has only grown in strength since joining the team.

Here’s what Barkley had to say about his relationship with OBJ, according to NJ.com:

“We talked about it. We talked the Giants drafting me into existence. When I  used to hang out with Odell, I’d tell him; ‘I’m going to be a Giant, I want to be a Giant, I want to be a part of that team.’

“Odell’s a very special player. He’s a very special person. That’s the biggest thing about Odell, he’s a very special person. The things he does, and the way he prepares is really admirable.

“I do believe that we can have an impact on this league. But, when I say ‘we,’ it’s never just Odell, and me. It’s not just the Saquon and Odell duo. It’s not the Saquon show. That wide receiving corps around Odell is extremely talented. You have a great quarterback. You have a great stable of running backs.

“Obviously, I’m the first-round running back and a lot of people are talking about me, but Jonathan Stewart has been in the league for a very long time, you have Wayne Gallman who’s a young guy but he’s very talented. We have a great room. This whole team is in a really great spot. The vibe and the feeling of the locker room. You can see the tradition that you have to live up to. This is something so special, but you have to take care of what you have to take care of every single day and that’s working hard and practicing.”

Barkley’s mindset:

You can hear the humbleness seeping from the words of Barkley, who’s just happy to be playing the game he loves on the team he wanted to play for. Despite all of the controversy surrounding Beckham at every turn, he’s been a stellar mentor to Barkley, and has really matured over the 2018 offseason. Beckham has attended mini-camps without question or hold-out, and has taken Barkley under his wing to establish a connection. That relationship will only continue to improve and help the players on the field.

The star receiver has experienced the pros and cons of being in the spotlight, and he can now provide that essential information to Barkley who will shortly enter a world that is caked in media followings and an all seeing eye.

Extra:

“I was really excited. I was talking to one of the head scouts from the Giants the day I got drafted, and I said to him ‘Will Hernandez?’ With a wink and a smile, and he just kind of smiled back. The thing about Will is obviously the talent is there. You watch film and you see he just dominates kids. He dominated college football. That’s obvious.

“But, what people don’t see is that UTEP was something like 0-12, I don’t think they won a game, and the fact that he was still so self-motivated to go out there and punish defenders every single game when he had every chance to just give it all up and not care with the game over and no chance for them to win, just shows you the character he has and why he’s going to be great. He’s going to be successful in this league, and I’m excited to play with him.”

Having a player as humble and appreciative as Barkley simply improves the team as a whole, and him knowing the struggles and mentality of his teammates only strengthens the relationships he’s currently building. The Giants made it a priority to build a warming and confident culture around the young rookie running back, and Beckham Jr. is the one leading those efforts – a matured and confident super-athlete.

 

What To Expect From New York Giants DT Damon Harrison This Season

It’s easy to forget it after last season, but the New York Giants have one of the best nose tackles in the NFL. Damon “Snacks” Harrison didn’t get compared to other top players as much, mainly because the rest of the team wasn’t competitive like it was in 2016, but he was still great against the run and even led the league in the run stop metric from Pro Football Focus.

Despite the 40 run stops, he was actually down from the two years before, which shows his potential to perform at an even better level than he did last season. When it comes to the run stopping game, it wouldn’t be a crazy prediction to say that Harrison leads the league again. But is that what Giants fans should expect from him? Harrison didn’t have a large drop off from the 2016 season, at least if you only consider the main stats.

His best year was 2016, when he had 55 tackles and 31 assists. Last season, he only had four less tackles, but also had 25 assisted tackles compared to 31. He did play one less game in 2017, so that might explain the drop from his best season. When you consider what his numbers might look like for this season, however, it’s important to consider the scheme fit under James Bettcher.

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The Giants are building a 3-4 defense, which can either be a good thing or bad thing. Harrison has experience in that system with the Jets, but his best performances came after his move to the Giants. It’s hard to tell whether a change to 3-4 is a good or bad thing for him, as an individual. On one hand, he made a big jump after moving from the 3-4. On the other hand, that could be a result of him making a jump as a player after having more time in the league.

Harrison does have more help this year, though. The Giants strengthened their front seven in the draft with Lorenzo Carter and B.J. Hill, and depending on how those players pan out, opponents may focus on him less. The team as a whole should also have better coaching this year, as things spiraled out of control early last season and this likely had an effect on the on-field play-calling for both the offense and defense.

At 29, Harrison isn’t quite at the age to drop off either. It would be surprising if he matched his best season, but an improvement from 2017 would be fairly reasonable, if you base a prediction off of the last three years. Harrison will be the main run stopping player on the Giants line, and as such, he should take a step forward with other members of the defense.

Prediction: Harrison’s 40 run stops from this year jumps to 45. His tackles don’t move too significantly, but his assists move up to 31 or more to match his number from 2016.

New York Yankees Make Questionable Roster Move – Huge Loss Follows

After a long wait, the New York Yankees have finally brought up first-baseman, Greg Bird, from the minor leagues. His debut was a disaster, and the player that was forced to sacrifice his roster spot was arguably the Yankees best utility man.

Ronald Torreyes, who has batted .339 in 22 games, was sent down to the Yankees’ Triple-A Scranton team. To fill his roster spot was Bird, who went 0 for 4 in his first game, where the Bombers suffered a massive loss on the arm of Sonny Gray (11-4)… Again.

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According to the Washington Post:

“I feel like I’m going to hit the ground running. We’ve got a great team and I’m excited to be back,” Bird said. “I’m ready to go every day.”

Unfortunately, the young Bird didn’t take flight in his first game back in the majors after returning from a bone spur in his foot.

“I feel like I’m going to hit the ground running. We’ve got a great team and I’m excited to be back,” Bird said. “I’m ready to go every day.”

General manager Aaron Boone decided to send down the productive Torreyes, who had an on-base-percentage of .785. He could have chose to send down one of their eight relief pitchers, but rather made a questionable decision. Boone has suffered through many growing pains as a first-year head coach.

“Obviously, a very difficult decision for us,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Hopefully, it’s something that’s temporary. I mean, for what Toe means to our team, to our clubhouse, to the guys in that room, to the way he performs, certainly not deserved. You know, with 14 games over 13 days I think we just felt like we needed the extra pitcher through this time. Feel like other guys have very much thrown themselves into the mix as far as deserving to be here — Toe included. So, a very difficult decision was made and it made for a difficult night.”

The major question moving forward will be the bullpen and the play of Tyler Austin. The first-baseman has performed well thus far, so replacing him with Bird is certainly a controversial call. Despite the fact that Bird is a Brian Cashman guy and was expected to be the first-baseman moving forward, Austin has proved to be sturdy, and giving Bird the additional time to heal might be necessary.

We will see on Sunday what Bird can bring to the table and if he can emerge from his cold hitting-streak with some flare.

New York Yankees Flashback: Wins And Weird Happenings

New York Yankees, Yankees, CC Sabathia

Starlin Castro‘s first-inning sac fly and Matt Holliday‘s two-run, sixth-inning jolt were just enough to carry CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees to a 3-2 win over the visiting Oakland A’s on May 27, 2017. A seventh-inning Josh Phegley home run forged the final score, but the loudest fireworks were reserved for the eighth inning, when second baseman Jed Lowrie and A’s manager Bob Melvin were both tossed for arguing over Will Little‘s strike calls.

Tyler Clippard struck Lowrie out swinging following a questionable strike 2 call, then Clippard wilted. allowing a walk and a double. Dellin Betances came on for a five-out save, and Melvin was thumbed during the first of the tall righthander’s three consecutive swinging strike outs.

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Eddie Lopat‘s 3-1 victory over the Senators on this day in 1953 both extended his winning streak over that team to eight games and started the Yanks off on an 18-game streak of their own, the third longest AL winning streak of the century. Joe Collins, Yogi Berra, and Billy Martin all chipped in with home runs.

May 27 is the day that two of the more famous images from baseball in the last 40 years took place. In 1991, Vancouver outfielder Rodney McCray made everyone’s highlight reel when he ran through the plywood fence in right field in a vain attempt to catch a ball hit by Chip Hale.

And 10 years earlier on this day in 1981, Seattle Mariner Lenny Randle got down on all fours and blew Amos Otis‘s dribbler down the third base line foul. Despite Lenny’s argument that he was merely pleading with the ball, the umps awarded Otis first base.

 

New York Giants Underdog Receiver Vying For Roster Spot

New York Giants, Dave Gettleman

The New York Giants have a rather stacked wide receiver corps heading into the 2018 season. With Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Cody Latimer, and Roger Lewis holding four roster spots, one undrafted rookie is vying for a reserve pass-catcher spot.

Former Bethune-Cookman receiver Jawill Davis has performed valiantly during rookie mini-camp and OTAs. He’s been coined as a savvy route runner, who has a knack for catching balls in traffic.

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According to his NFL Draft profile:

Davis is a savvy route runner who generates good explosion off the line, along with good hand usage to get into his route and get a clean release and avoid the jam. He has the ball skills to play outside his frame and make proper adjustments working down field. His hip swerve and head fakes, along with his natural hands, lets him make a quick move to elude the defender while cradling the ball properly to prevent the forced fumble.

Davis shows good athletic ability for his position, demonstrating the change of direction, balance and body control to not take any false steps getting into his routes. He has sudden quickness and impressive deep speed, building his acceleration nicely, as he shows the body torque to get in and out of his breaks cleanly. He is a quick, short strider with good playing speed for his size, but is better utilized in the short-to-intermediate areas, as he has very good balance running his routes and does a good job of adjusting to the ball in flight.

How can he fit in with the Giants?

Davis averaged 16.0 yards per reception with 106 total catches for 1,692 yards and 10 touchdowns in 46 games for his alma mater.

Davis’s most impressive skill is undoubtedly his route running abilities. In case of injury, Davis could be a solid receiver to fill in as a backup, but he’s certainly a project moving forward. He will need a minimum of two seasons to learn the ways of an NFL receiver and adjust to a professional level of talent.

He’s quietly making a name for himself, but he will need to show out in pre-season to earn a spot on the team.