New York Giants: What the tight end position would look like without Evan Engram in Week One

New York Giants, Kaden Smith

The New York Giants are preparing for the start of the regular season this week. Their season kicks off on Sunday afternoon with a home game against the Denver Broncos. Today’s injury reports have given fans encouragement on running back Saquon Barkley, however, they have also given a bleak outlook on tight end Evan Engram.

Evan Engram suffered a calf injury in the Giants’ final preseason game this year. The Pro Bowl tight end has been healing up in hopes of playing in Week One. According to Ian Rapoport, Engram has yet to be ruled out for Sunday, however, he is considered a “long-shot” to play.

What the Giants’ offense would look like without Evan Engram

Despite being doubtful to play, the Giants still listed Evan Engram as one of two starting tight ends on their unofficial depth chart ahead of Week One. The Giants like to run a lot of twelve personnel (two-tight end sets). This is why the team lists two first-string tight ends on their depth chart.

The other first-string tight end is Kyle Rudolph. The Giants signed Rudolph this offseason to be a reliable underneath receiver and a top-tier red zone threat. If Evan Engram is unable to play, Rudolph will likely stay in his original secondary role that complements Engram’s primary role. A practice squad tight end could also be promoted to the active roster.

Kaden Smith is listed as the second-string tight end for both starting positions. The Giants are surprisingly holding only three tight ends on their roster going into this season. Kaden Smith is the team’s backup tight end but he is no scrub. Smith has been with the team since 2019 and had an impressive performance in the preseason finale, hauling in a contested 23-yard touchdown reception.

Kaden Smith is a young tight end that has the ability to contribute as a receiver and as a run-blocker. The Giants’ offensive attack might be altered slightly on Sunday if Evan Engram is unable to go. However, Kaden Smith should be able to make up for most of what is lost.

New York Giants: Barkley and Rudolph out, others will be game time decision

New York Giants, Saquon Barkley

The New York Giants are dealing with a number of injuries right now, and it’s unclear which players are in a position to return for the final preseason game. We do know, however, that two anticipated returns won’t happen in this game after Joe Judge ruled out the possibility already.

Those players are Saquon Barkley and tight end Kyle Rudolph, both of whom have mounting pressure to play in week 1. Judge confirmed on Friday that neither player will take the field against New England.

“He will not play in this game, no. We’ll dress him out. He’ll go through warm up. We’ll continue him on through ramping up. He won’t play. Him or Rudolph won’t play in this game,” Judge told reporters when asked about Barkley.

But more encouragingly, Judge also claimed that the Giants are still making decisions on some players.

Some decisions are still being made

“The other players – there’s a lot of guys where there’s still decisions being made. We’ll see how they come out today and even some tomorrow. We’ll see how they’re going to look for the game. So, I can’t give any final answers on a lot of guys,” Judge said.

The list of injuries includes three wide receivers – John Ross, Kadarius Toney, and Kenny Golladay.

With Toney being the team’s first round draft pick and Golladay being their biggest free agent signing, this has caused some reasonable concern that Daniel Jones won’t get a chance to build chemistry with his most important targets in a game situation before week 1.

But as the Giants generally rested their starters for the first couple of preseason games, it’s clear the staff aren’t prioritizing preseason experience for their key players.

We know Jones will play one half in the final game, but as of now, it remains to be seen if his new weapons will be there on the field with him.

New York Giants: Kyle Rudolph’s return to the lineup could be huge for Evan Engram

New York Giants, Evan Engram

The New York Giants had an eventful day of practice on Wednesday. They saw a couple of key starters go down with injuries (seemingly nothing significant, though). But they also got a crucial member of the offense back from injury. Kyle Rudolph was activated off the PUP list and returned to practice.

Kyle Rudolph is a phenomenal red zone threat and reliable tight end that can do it all for the Giants’ offense. Rudolph was part of the Giants’ big offensive spending spree in free agency this offseason. New York made it a priority to upgrade their offense that ranked 31st in the NFL last season. Kyle Rudolph will enter the Giants’ lineup, not as a full-time starter, but as a complementary piece to Evan Engram. The addition of Rudolph into the lineup could be huge for Engram as he takes his game to the next level.

Why Kyle Rudolph might unlock the next level of Evan Engram

Engram going vertical

Evan Engram made the Pro Bowl last year, despite having a season most fans want to forget. The dynamic tight end dropped 11 passes last season, some of which came at crucial moments and cost his team games. But there are reasons to believe Engram will bounce back in 2021.

Engram is best used as a deep-receiving weapon. When going vertical, Evan Engram can be a true playmaker. He and Daniel Jones connected on a few deep bombs last year, including two 40+ yard receptions against the Cincinnati Bengals.

However, the majority of Engram’s routes were run underneath, not vertical. 69 of Evan Engram’s 109 targets came between 0-10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Only six of his targets were on passes 20+ yards downfield (PFF). Evan Engram is one of the fastest tight ends in the NFL. It is malpractice for him to be used purely on hook routes five yards from the line of scrimmage. Let Engram put that 4.42s 40-yard dash to work and get downfield. The addition of Kyle Rudolph in the lineup will allow Engram to do just that.

Kyle Rudolph underneath

Kyle Rudolph has not dropped a pass in the last two years and is incredible at making contested catches. Rudolph’s contested catch rate since 2016 is 51.9%. Compare this to Evan Engram’s career contested-catch rate of 32.1%, and it’s easy to understand why Kyle Rudolph could be one of the Giants’ most valuable offensive weapons.

In the Giants’ 2021 offensive scheme, Kyle Rudolph will be able to do the things that Evan Engram struggled with during the 2020 season. Rudolph can run all of those routes from 0-10 yards of the line of scrimmage that Engram failed to run efficiently. Having Kyle Rudolph as the reliable pass-catcher underneath will allow the Giants to play Evan Engram to his strengths, pushing him downfield as a vertical receiving threat and putting together explosive plays.

Giants activate Kyle Rudolph off PUP list, what does he bring to the offense?

new york giants, kyle rudolph

One of the major benefits that tight end Kyle Rudolph brings to the New York Giants is his abilities in the red zone. The Giants ranked 31st last year in points scored per game with 17.5, and adding a big body for Daniel Jones to target in scoring positions is essential.

The Giants’ red zone scoring percentage also ranked 31st in the league at 46.34%. Rudolph, who is one of the most dependable TEs in the NFL when it comes to catching the football, should offer a security blanket on short-yardage routes. Rudolph has only dropped one pass since the 2018 season, playing in 92 of 96 games.

Impressively, 40 of Rudolph’s 48 career touchdowns came in the red zone, which points to an obvious injection of talent in an area the Giants desperately needed to upgrade.

Thankfully, there is optimism Rudolph could be ready for Week 1 of the regular season against the Denver Broncos.

Per the Giants:

Tight end Kyle Rudolph has passed his physical and will return to practice, though certainly on a very limited basis.

Rudolph had been rehabilitating from a foot injury, diagnosed as Lisfranc. Normally, this injury can keep players out for a significant amount of time, but he has made tremendous progress in his rehabilitation. If he can ramp up in time and participate in team drills this week, Rudolph could find himself earning a small sample size of reps against Denver.
Luckily, the Giants already have Evan Engram and Kaden Smith but did watch Levine Toilolo go down with a torn Achilles earlier this off-season. Nonetheless, if Rudolph started the season on the PUP list, he would’ve automatically missed the first six games of the season, so this is a major development, but he passed his physical and is ready to re-join the team.

New York Giants: Kyle Rudolph set for injury return in the near future

kyle rudolph, new york giants

When the New York Giants made the move to pick up tight end Kyle Rudolph in free agency, they got more than they were bargaining for. The player ended up on the physically unable to perform list after a foot injury was found during Rudolph’s physical, and it’s looking like that injury could last into the regular season. For what the Giants are paying Rudolph, many would consider his signing a mistake on the part of the team if he does come into the season at less than full strength.

However, there’s signs that Rudolph may be nearing a return come the final week of the preseason. Those signs are in the fact that Rudolph was seen working out on the field before the Browns game, both running routes and catching passes from Daniel Jones.

Pass catching ability is what the Giants will want to see from Rudolph considering his role as a receiving tight end. If he’s back to running routes and bringing in passes, it’s likely not that long before we see Rudolph on the field for real.

It’s important for the Giants that they get Rudolph back before their final roster cut. If he isn’t off the PUP list by then, he’ll have to miss the first six weeks of the season before being allowed to return.

The Giants have one more preseason game, set for this Sunday against the Patriots at MetLife Stadium. It seems unlikely at this point that we’ll see Rudolph then, but there’s a real chance that the tight end is off the PUP list before the final roster cut and available for week 1 of the regular season.

New York Giants already declare key offensive players OUT for second preseason game

new york giants, kadarius toney

The New York Giants are currently enjoying a week of joint practices with the Cleveland Browns. The Giants and Browns will face off in a preseason Week Two matchup on Sunday night.

In their first preseason game, key members of the team were held out in an effort to keep them healthy for the start of the regular season. Players like Daniel Jones and Leonard Williams did not see the field on game day. Many of these key players will return to the field to start ramping up to game speed. But the Giants have already declared a number of key offensive players out for their second preseason game.

Kenny Golladay (hamstring), Kyle Rudolph (foot), Saquon Barkley (knee), and Kadarius Toney (unknown) will all be absent from the Giants’ lineup on Sunday.

When will these players return?

Daniel Jones and most of the starters on offense will take the field on Sunday. In the third preseason game versus the Patriots next weekend, Joe Judge wants the starters to play most of the first half. But will these injured players be back in time to create some chemistry in the preseason? Or will Golladay, Rudolph, Barkley, and Toney have to wait until the regular season to see some action?

Kyle Rudolph

At this point, it appears Kyle Rudolph will not be seeing the field until the regular season. In fact, it looks like it could be a long time before he suits up for the Giants. Rudolph does not seem close to returning and if he is not activated off of the PUP list by the start of the regular season, he will miss at least the first six weeks of the year.

Kenny Golladay

Kenny Golladay is a player the Giants need healthy for the regular season. He suffered a hamstring tweak a few weeks ago and avoided the worst-case scenario, but he has not been a full participant in practice since the injury occurred. At this point, Golladay could be healthy enough to play next week, but it might be wise for the Giants to let him rest up and focus on the regular season.

Saquon Barkley

Like Golladay, Saquon Barkley is an essential piece of the Giants’ offense. New York needs their superstar running back to get healthy. It is hard to imagine that the Giants would risk an injury to Barkley by playing him in the preseason considering the severity of the injury he is recovering from.

Kadarius Toney

Kadarius Toney is a major question mark to this point. The rookie wide receiver has barely practiced with the team this summer and is now dealing with a mystery injury. The Giants say he is dealing with an injury but have not specified what the injury might be. At this point, no one knows when Toney will be recovered. All Giants fans can do is wait and hope to see Kadarius Toney on the field for the start of the regular season.

New York Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph in danger of missing first six weeks of the season

new york giants, kyle rudolph

The New York Giants are in Cleveland, Ohio this week, participating in joint practices with the Browns. The Giants and Browns will play each other on Sunday night as the NFL enters the second week of the preseason. Among the players not expected to participate in practice is newly-signed Giants tight end Kyle Rudolph.

In this year’s free agency period, the Giants went on an exciting spending spree. They upgraded their offense significantly with the acquisitions of wide receiver Kenny Golladay and tight end Kyle Rudolph. Both of these players were rehabbing injuries earlier that offseason, but the Giants felt comfortable making the signings anyway.

Back in July, Kyle Rudolph told the media that he “won’t miss any football.” Well, the veteran tight end has missed quite a bit of football already and seems to be in danger of missing a significant portion of the regular season.

Could Kyle Rudolph end up on the PUP list in the regular season?

Kyle Rudolph is not the only Giants player dealing with an injury during training camp. However, many of the injured players are participating in practice, working on the side of the field. Kyle Rudolph is not one of those players that are participating. This could indicate that the rehabbing tight end is nowhere near ready to return to football.

The Giants agreed to sign Rudolph to a two-year $12 million contract this offseason after the veteran missed the final four games of the 2020 season with a foot injury. Contracts are finalized after a player passes a physical. When the Giants conducted their physical, they acquired more information on Rudolph’s foot injury. They had the chance to alter the contract but chose not to and signed Rudolph to the original deal.

“We honored the agreement because our doctors were confident Kyle would be fine following the procedure.” – Giants GM Dave Gettleman on Tuesday via NY Post

If Kyle Rudolph remains on the PUP list when the regular season begins he will miss at least the first six games of the year. Considering he was not supposed to miss any football at all, the level of concern is heightening. Rudolph has not participated in any football yet and the regular season is just weeks away. There seems to be a good chance that the Giants could start the season without Kyle Rudolph on the active roster.

Why the New York Giants’ red zone offense will be much better in 2021

kyle rudolph, new york giants

The New York Giants have revamped their offense. In the 2021 offseason, New York did not hold back. The Giants made every move they could this offseason to upgrade the offensive side of the ball. They spent big in free agency with the signings of Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph. They then doubled down in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft when they selected wide receiver Kadarius Toney 20th overall. The Giants made move after move dedicated to fixing their incompetent offense.

In 2020, the Giants had the second-worst ranked offense in the NFL. New York averaged only 17.5 points per game last season, a truly putrid number. One of the reasons why the Giants struggled so badly to put points up on the scoreboard was their inefficiency in the red zone. Their red zone scoring percentage ranked 31st in the league in 2020 at 46.34%. Time and time again, the Giants got into scoring range and failed to convert. NFL teams will not find great success without a competent red zone offense.

That is going to change in 2021. The New York Giants added a couple of top-tier red zone threats to their offense to fix their problems in the scoring zone. The Giants’ red zone offense will be much better in 2021 because of the signings of Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph.

Kenny Golladay and Kyle Rudolph in the red zone

The New York Giants desperately needed an outside “X” receiver on their roster entering this offseason. The team was in need of a true WR1. They found that in Kenny Golladay. Golladay led the NFL in receiving touchdowns in 2019. He possesses a huge frame and makes his presence known down near the goal line. Kenny Golladay is a premiere red zone threat. According to PFF, the Giants’ new alpha dog is the highest-graded wide receiver on contested targets since 2019 (96.7). When Daniel Jones is in doubt, he can just throw it up to Kenny Golladay, and more often than not KennyG will come down with it.

Kyle Rudolph is arguably the most dependable tight end in the NFL. ‘Ole Reliable Rudolph dropped 1 pass on 167 targets from 2018 to 2020. He’s as sure-handed as NFL players get. Rudolph is durable, too, playing in 92 of 96 games since 2015 for the Vikings. Of Kyle Rudolph’s 48 career touchdown receptions, 40 of them — 83.3 percent — have come in the red zone (Paul Schwartz of the NY Post).

Kenny Golladay is the 6’4″ wide receiver that the Giants needed to fix their red zone offense. Kyle Rudolph at 6’6″ also has the height and strength to box out defenders and make those contested catches in the end zone. Of course, Evan Engram at 6’3″ will also be a factor in the red zone. The Giants struggled to capitalize when in scoring position last year. But that should change in 2021.

New York Giants: Why Evan Engram will bounce back in 2021

New York Giants, Giants, Evan Engram

Entering the 2020 NFL season, PFF had New York Giants tight end Evan Engram ranked as the twelfth-best tight end in the NFL. This ranking set some high expectations for Engram that the Giants’ pass-catcher ultimately failed to reach. Engram was selected to the first Pro Bowl of his career in 2020, however, this was a season filled with dropped passes and year-long struggles for the fourth-year tight end.

Evan Engram dropped 11 passes this season, a statistic that overshadowed any highlights that the tight end put together. Six of the eleven interceptions thrown by Giants quarterbacks came on plays targeting Engram. At times, it felt like Evan Engram was a bad-play magnet. However, there were some games where Engram reminded fans why he was once a first-round draft pick.

Engram is good, just misused

For example, Evan Engram posted a single-game career-high 129 receiving yards versus the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12. Engram hauled in six receptions in this game, including two receptions of 40+ yards.

This game demonstrated that Engram is best used as a deep-receiving weapon. When going vertical, Evan Engram can be a true playmaker. He and Daniel Jones connected on a few deep bombs this year, like the wheel route down the right sideline against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Unfortunately, the Giants did not have Evan Engram running vertical routes that freqeuently in 2020. In Jason Garrett’s offensive scheme, the tight end’s main job was to be a reliable pass-catcher underneath, mainly in the 0-10 yard range, center of the field.

69 of Evan Engram’s 109 targets came between 0-10 yards of the line of scrimmage. Only six of his targets were on passes 20+ yards downfield (PFF). Evan Engram is one of the fastest tight ends in the NFL. It is malpractice for him to be used purely on hook routes five yards from the line of scrimmage. Let Engram put that 4.42s 40-yard dash to work and get downfield.

This upcoming season, Evan Engram’s role should change significantly. The addition of Kyle Rudolph will allow the Giants to use Evan Engram as more of a vertical receiving threat while Rudolph plays the role Jason Garrett placed Engram into in 2020.

Kyle Rudolph underneath

Kyle Rudolph has not dropped a pass in the last two years and is incredible at making contested catches. Rudolph’s contested catch rate since 2016 is 51.9%. Compare this to Evan Engram’s career contested-catch rate of 32.1%, and it’s easy to understand why Kyle Rudolph could be one of the Giants’ most valuable offensive weapons.

Kyle Rudolph is a perfect fit for the Giants’ offense. He is a reliable tight end that can catch the ball underneath while Evan Engram gets open downfield. These two will complement each other perfectly as Evan Engram has a bounce-back season in 2021.

Giants receive great Kyle Rudolph injury news as training camp nears

kyle rudolph, new york giants

The New York Giants surprisingly signed TE Kyle Rudolph to a two-year, $12 million deal, including $4.5 million and guaranteed money this offseason. The former second-round pick in 2011 has spent his entire career with Minnesota but is now making the transition to New York, where he will play a significant part in the Giants’ offense this upcoming season.

However, when Big Blue originally signed Rudolph, they discovered a foot injury that nearly ruined the deal. Nonetheless, Rudolph is on pace to start Week 1 alongside Evan Engram as the primary tight ends.

“I was extremely fortunate the Giants medical staff was able to find this in March and it isn’t something where I came back here all fired up for OTAs in June and then hurt myself and put myself at risk for missing football games,” Rudolph said, via Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News.

Rudolph stated he “won’t miss any football,” which is a great reality for the Giants as they prepare to ramp up in the coming weeks.

Coordinator Jason Garrett loves to utilize 12 personnel as a primary scheme, focusing on running the football and pushing the field vertically. The Giants, with two vastly different TEs regarding their qualities, can use Engram as a deep threat while allowing Rudolph to operate in the middle of the field.

Engram was connected to six interceptions last year, dropping 11 passes. The majority of his issues took place within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage directly in the middle of the field, where Rudolph will take over. The former Viking hasn’t dropped a pass in over two years, indicating consistency and stellar hands in the receiving game.

In fact, Bleacher Report pegged Rudolph as one of the most underrated signings this off-season, stating:

A 31-year-old Kyle Rudolph didn’t make a ton of noise when inking a two-year deal with the New York Giants, especially when compared to bigger names at his position, like Hunter Henry.

But Rudolph is a critical addition for a Giants team going all-in around developmental quarterback Daniel Jones. He’ll join a cast of weapons that includes fellow tight end Evan Engram, free-agent prize Kenny Golladay and 2021 first-round receiver Kadarius Toney.

Over 12 games last year, Rudolph had a quiet end to his decade-long stint in Minnesota, recording just 334 yards and one touchdown. But he had scored six or more times in three of the four seasons prior to that while ranking as the thirdish option in a mostly run-based attack.

This isn’t to suggest Rudolph will swing the pendulum much in the win column for the Giants. But there’s something bigger at stake for New York next season: guaranteeing a proper developmental curve for Jones that leads to reaching a high ceiling.