New York Giants: 3 big takeaways from the release of the unofficial depth chart

david sills, new york giants

The New York Giants released their first unofficial depth chart ahead of the first preseason game against the New York Jets on Saturday. With the team enjoying a great experience at MetLife during Fan-Fest, coining the first fan engagement since before COVID-19, spirits are high, and excitement is brewing.

While the depth chart has a few interesting placements, there’s still plenty of time for players to change the course of their off-season.

Three takeaways from New York Giants’ unofficial depth chart:

1.) David Sills listed ahead of CJ Board, Austin Mack, and Damion Wills

One of the standout players for the Giants thus far has been David Sills, who broke his leg last year, ending his preseason early. Sills was a stand-out during training camp in 2020, and once again, he’s proving to be a solid receiver, especially in the red zone. During live drills in the RZ, Sills has hauled in five touchdown passes, with a number of them coming from quarterback Daniel Jones.

David spent the majority of his off-season following Jones around the country, working hard to create chemistry and perfect timing. Clearly, that is paying off in a big way during camp.

“Basically this guy followed Daniel around the country,” Giants coach Joe Judge said of Sills, per Art Stapleton of NJ.com. “Wherever Daniel was, he was going to be there to catch passes. That’s someone who you can tell has really invested in himself to get every shot he has.”

Judge loves players who invest in themselves and spend extra time refining their craft. Based on that alone, I would say Sills is on the fast track to earning a spot on the 53 man roster. If he can contribute on special teams, Judge will have a hard time moving on from him and his work ethic.

“He’s making a lot of plays for us,” Judge said. “He’s doing a good job, he comes out, works hard every day. Sills is a guy who does everything you ask and he does it 100 percent.”

2.) Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines listed as projected starters at OLB

The Giants added tons of outside linebacker support this off-season, but they listed two familiar faces as the projected starters ahead of the first preseason game. Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, who was activated off the PUP less this week as the starters, have Azeez Ojulari and Trent Harris behind them.

Carter is coming off a torn Achilles and Ximines a shoulder injury that ended his season, but they have the most experience at the position. The expectation is that Ojulari will earn significant reps to open the year, given his success last season in the SEC.

Having more depth at the position will prove to be beneficial in 2021, as the Giants were forced to rely on seventh-round pick Carter Coughlin and practice squad player Jabaal Sheard as their primary outside linebackers in 2020. Based on the fact this depth chart is unofficial, it’s not surprising to see Ximines slotter it in as the starter.

3.) Tae Crowder listed as starting WLB next to Blake Martinez

When the Giants drafted Tae Crowder with the final pick in the 2020 NFL draft, nobody expected he would be vying for starting snaps just one year later. The Giants have Crowder listed as the starter opposite Blake Martinez. Not much has been said about the former Georgia stand-out this training camp, but he showed flashes of adequacy as a pass coverage linebacker and run stopper during his rookie season. He collected 40 total tackles, 18 stops and allowed 283 yards. Over 210 covered snaps, he didn’t give up a single score, which is a positive sign.

Behind Crowder, the Giants have Devante Downs and TJ Brunson. I wouldn’t expect either to dislodge him from the starting spot, putting Crowder in an advantageous position to open the year as the primary weak side linebacker.

New York Giants forming a dangerous Georgia EDGE duo

new york giants, azeez ojulari

The New York Giants‘ defense endured a plethora of injuries in 2020. In particular, many of the injuries occurred at the edge rusher position. Both starting edge rushers, Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, suffered season-ending injuries.

Lorenzo Carter will return to the starting lineup this season. He has participated in OTA’s this week and looks sharp. Many were surprised to see him on the practice field. Carter has returned and he is joined by a new arrival on the practice field. Rookie edge rusher Azeez Ojulari was an exciting draft pick for the Giants in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft. The Georgia edge rusher will be a huge addition to the Giants’ defense.

Lorenzo Carter and Azeez Ojulari stats and highlights

The New York Giants’ edge rusher position seems to be improving steadily. They have added mid-round draft picks, like Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines, over the years, but the investment in a first-round talent like Azeez Ojulari is telling. The Giants recognize a weakness on the edge and have now fully addressed it.

Azeez Ojulari had been mocked to the Giants with the 11th overall pick pre-draft. He ended up in New York, but not until pick 50. That is incredible value for the Giants. Ojulari recorded an impressive 9.5 sacks in his breakout 2020 season. He also totaled 12.5 tackles for loss and an incredible 4 forced fumbles. Ojulari was credited with 35 pressures by PFF in 2020. He’s a bendy speed-rusher with a sick pass-rush move that beats down left tackles

Lorenzo Carter and Azeez Ojulari have more in common than playing for the Giants. Both of these players are speedy pass-rushers that played for the Georgia Bulldogs. The Giants’ new Georgia edge-rushing duo could be an imposing force for offenses to gameplan around.

Lorenzo Carter played in only five games in 2020. However, Carter’s play during those five games was impressive. The Giants finally felt confident in their edge-rushing with Carter. He racked up a sack and 7 pressures in those five games and looked faster and stronger than he had in the past.

Unfortunately, the duo of Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines was not keeping opposing offensive linemen up at night. The Giants recognized this and made it a priority to upgrade the position. They feel they have done that by adding Azeez Ojulari to the mix. Lorenzo Carter and Azeez Ojulari could be a dangerous tandem in 2021 as the Giants hope to improve their pass-rush.

New York Giants: How does the loss of Lorenzo Carter affect the defense?

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter

The New York Giants lost more than their week five contest against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday afternoon, they also lost outside linebacker Lorenzo Carter for the remainder of the 2020 season. Carter tore his Achilles, a major blow to his young, developing career and the defense.

Carter, who has been a fantastic presence on the edge for the Giants this year, playing in 71% of snaps prior to going down. He missed just one tackle and racked up 15 combined tackles, four quarterback hits, and 1.0 sacks over five games. However, his ability to secure the edge and limit the run game was apparent. Losing his extraordinary length and athleticism was immediately noticeable against the Cowboys.

Markus Golden replaced Carter after the injury — Golden did not show the same tenacity had in 2019 when he earned 10.0 sacks. Against the Cowboys, he finished with 0.5 sacks, one solo tackle, and three combined tackles.

While his stats on paper don’t seem terrible, he missed a number of tackles and was a liability in run defense. In addition, the angles he took toward the quarterback seem to be problematic, missing several would be sacks. While he did his usual job by getting into the backfield, he seemed lost once he beat his assignment.

How can the New York Giants further supplement the loss of Carter?

With Carter out and Oshane Ximines on injured reserve, the Giants will have to rely on Golden and Kyler Fackrell moving forward. If they continue to lose, despite already being 0-5 on the season, I would like to see Carter Coughlin earn reps at the position.

As an effective pass rusher at Minnesota, Coughlin has elusive moves but lacks the strength to bull-rush in the NFL. He can be more of a finesse option, but I worry he will not perform well against the run. Activating him on third downs might make more sense earlier on in his career, but for now, I believe the Giants will stick with the more experienced players.

Fackrell, who signed a one-year, $4.6 million deal this past off-season, has played extremely well for the Giants. Against Dallas, he played 98% of snaps, recording three combined tackles, one tackle for a loss, and one interception for a touchdown. I expect Fackrell to continue earning a majority of the snaps on a weekly basis, but with their inexperience behind Carter and Ximines, Golden will undoubtedly be the next man up.

New York Giants: Silver Linings From Week One vs Pittsburgh

New York Giants, Daniel Jones

The New York Giants suffered a disappointing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last night. After getting off to a good start, the Giants squandered their lead and ultimately lost the game by two possessions. The final score was 26-16.

Despite this loss, there was plenty to like about the Giants’ performance in Week One. Some Solid performances on both sides of the football can encourage Giants fans heading into the second week of the season.

The Silver Linings

Daniel Jones

The Giants’ second-year quarterback, Daniel Jones, played a great game on Monday night. However, he did turn the ball over twice, and it cost the Giants big-time. But outside of those two turnovers, Jones was impressive as can be in Week One.

The Steelers possess one of the best defenses in the NFL. Their run-defense and pass-rush were elite last night. The Steelers held Saquon Barkley to 6 rushing yards and pressured Daniel Jones on 26 of his passing attempts. Jones was pressured 6 times more than any other quarterback in the NFL in Week One.

Despite having pressure in his face constantly, and despite not having a solid run game to rely on, Daniel Jones stood in the pocket and made some of the best throws of his career. Jones totaled 279 yards and 2 touchdown passes on 26 attempts.

Jones was particularly good when targeting the middle of the field. When targeting the middle, Jones completed 13 of his 15 passing attempts for 182 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jones was also superb on third down and carried the Giants’ offense at times. If Jones can continue to play at this level while keeping the turnovers down and receiving more help from his offensive line, 2020 could be the year Jones establishes himself as a franchise quarterback.

The Front Seven

The Giants enjoyed multiple impressive performances in their front seven. No one was more impressive than newly-signed inside linebacker Blake Martinez. Martinez recorded 11 tackles (tied for the most of all linebackers in Week One) en route to an 83.9 overall grade by Pro Football Focus. Blake Martinez played like one of the best linebackers in the NFL in Week One.

Lorenzo Carter also had one of the best games of his career on Monday night. Carter recorded 3 pressures, nearly had a sack, and earned an 81.5 overall PFF grade this week. His 3 pressures were tied for the team lead along with Leonard Williams, another player who had an impressive performance.

Leonard Williams recorded a sack and 3 pressures in Week One. Another interior defensive lineman also recorded a sack, though. Dexter Lawrence, the big hog molly out of Clemson started his second season off on the right track, earning a sack in an impressive performance.

The Giants’ defense was most impressive in Week One. The front seven was excellent, seeing multiple players have some of the best individual performances of their careers. This was especially important as the defensive secondary struggled to contain Ben Roethlisberger and his playmakers. The Giants will want to see their front seven build off of an impressive performance in Week Two, while also hoping to see some improvement from their young and inexperienced secondary.

New York Giants: 3 players who stood out in Friday’s scrimmage

New York Giants, Daniel Jones, Lorenzo Carter

The New York Giants faced off in a live intra-squad scrimmage on Friday evening, which aired on Saturday via NBC. While the edited version only lasted one hour, we were able to extract some valuable points.

Tackling was held to a minimum, and quarterbacks weren’t allowed to get hit, but the defense was in the backfield quite a bit, which could be the reality for the Giants and their newly assembled offensive line.

However, plenty of players had solid outings on both sides of the ball.

Three players who showed out for the New York Giants on Friday:

1.) Corey Coleman

The wide receiver unit was tumultuous in 2019, dealing with a number of injuries, which limited rookie quarterback Daniel Jones‘ production.

Golden Tate was suspended for the first few games of the season, Darius Slayton missed his first two games with a hamstring injury, Sterling Shepard was in and out with concussions, and Corey Coleman suffered a torn ACL before the season even began. Luckily, all four are healthy and have brewed optimism.

During Friday scrimmage, Coleman caught multiple passes, including a back-shoulder pass on the right side of the field for a lengthy gain. His speed and first-round talent have been apparent, despite multiple significant injuries over the past few seasons. If he can remain healthy, Coleman could be an underrated producer for Big Blue moving forward.

2.) Wayne Gallman

After being buried on the depth chart in 2019, back-up running back Wayne Gallman showed out on Friday. He performed so well that the Giants released undrafted free agent Javon Leake the next day. The former Clemson stand out produced two touchdowns, one on the ground in one through the air.

Oddly, he lost favor with former New York Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, but he is proving himself valuable in front of Joe Judge. If he continues to excel in practice and live scrimmages, he could be the number two running back behind Saquon Barkley. With Dion Lewis signing as a free agent this off-season, I see him more as a scat-back than Barkley’s back up.

3.) Lorenzo Carter

Lorenzo Carter was the star of the evening, recording 4.5 sacks, two of which came on rookie tackle Andrew Thomas. He also recorded one against Cam Fleming and another against tight end Levine Toilolo. Carter has struggled to reach his potential over two years in the NFL. With double the defensive snaps in 2019, he barely recorded better statistics compared to his rookie season. The Georgia stand-out is one of the most athletic players in the NFL given his size, with 4.46 40-yard dash speed.

If Carter can finally take a big step forward, he might just save the Giants a ton of money down the line.

New York Giants: Lorenzo Carter Breaks Out in Blue-White Scrimmage

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter

The New York Giants thought they had a steal on their hands when they selected Georgia linebacker Lorenzo Carter in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. As a rookie, Carter played in 15 games, starting two, and recored four sacks and had four passes defensed. Last year, he started 12 games but his stats barely improved.

The plateauing had the Giants a little concerned. The book on Carter, a high school stud who had a college career that fell below expectations, was that he flashes on some plays then disappears on others. The incoming Giants’ coaching staff, specifically outside linebackers coach Bret Bielema, faced the challenge of unlocking Carter’s massive potential in Year Three.

So far, so good. Carter was absolutely dominant in the Giants’ first full-team scrimmage on Friday night, racking up four “sacks” and looking very much like a player who has taken that next step in his career. Carter may have had five sacks on the night. Since the quarterbacks are in red jerseys, defenders are not allowed to bring them to the ground, so sacks are basically imaginary during scrimmages.

“Zo has been very particular in training camp, he has made a lot of improvement,” head coach Joe Judge said after the scrimmage. “He plays with a high motor. He is developing a skill set to really expand on what his game has been in the past. Bret (Bielema) is doing a phenomenal job with him. The offensive line, to be honest with you, it’s live competition. We’re going out there, there’s some different tools we can use to help these guys in games. We chose to keep this a little bit vanilla tonight so it takes a little bit of tools you can use through game planning away from it. We have to see more improvement in the on one matchups and how they handle it across the board.”

Carter, who usually plays the WILL linebacker role in the Giants’ 3-4 alignment, was on the field for 65% of the Giants’ defensive snaps in 2019 and only 40% of the snaps in his rookie season of 2018. Yet, his production, as stated, was basically identical.

Bielema, who coaches all of his charges evenly, recently spoke about Carter and another former linebacker the Giants selected in the third round of the draft, Oshane Ximines.

“I think the part that’s been fun to work with those two, and really the room in general, is they’ve bought into everything Joe (Judge) has talked about since day one,” said Bielema. ” As a positional coach, we go in there, we talk about specific things that pertain to outside linebacker play. It’s easy to see that both of them have a lot of talent, a lot of physical, raw skills that they’ve been able to hone and kind of be specific. But now to fit into our scheme, they’re going to work every day. They’re doing their daily grind, they keep stacking days together, and then hopefully the results will start to show up on Sundays the way they envision, the way we envision them, and hopefully everybody alike on the outside world as well. ”

The Giants will be in terrific shape if one or both of those players make the “leap” this season. As a fall back measure, they went out and signed Green Bay’s Kyler Fackrell and then adroitly tendered Markus Golden, who went unsigned this summer. Throw in former University of Minnesota star Carter Coughlin and the Giants have gone from a dearth of talent at the edge rusher spot to practically having an embarrassment of riches.

“A lot of talent, honestly. A lot of raw ability,” said Fackrell when sizing up the unit this week.  “I think we’ve been working, we’ve been getting a lot better in the one on ones and everything. That work has been great. We were watching some clips from last year with pressures and stuff. As a rookie, X produced. I think he had four, four and a half sacks, which is awesome for a rookie. The same kind of thing with Zo. He’s going into his third year. I think it’ll be… It’s a fun room, it’s a fun group to be a part of. The mixture of us as outside linebackers as well as all the talent in the interior d-line. I think third down is going to be a fun down.”

The Giants hope it is, too.

 

 

New York Giants: Recapping Today’s Practice 8/25

New York Giants, Austin Mack, Sterling Shepard

The New York Giants had another late practice session tonight, wrapping up well after seven p.m. Practice was halted for a while too, as lightning was striking in the surrounding area. Because of this, media coverage was limited, but they were able to drop some tidbits on today’s practice session.

Injury update

Darius Slayton returned to practice today. Jabrill Peppers and Shane Lemieux also participated after leaving practice early on Thursday.

Ryan Connelly, Nate Ebner, Spencer Pulley, and Eli Penny did not participate in practice today. They all worked on the side with the training staff (via Art Stapleton).

Highlights

There was finally a fight at Giants practice today. Lorenzo Carter and Evan Engram got into a scrum. Engram’s helmet was thrown off his head. Head coach Joe Judge determined that Carter was in the wrong, so he sent him for a lap.

Later on, Sterling Shepard scored a nice touchdown reception with James Bradberry in coverage. Shepard celebrated to get back at the defense, jumping into the arms of Nick Gates. Later on, Shepard dropped a potential touchdown pass in a two-minute drill, and the defense got after him for that.

Giants’ practice is intensifying as we inch closer to the regular season. With no preseason due COVID-19, Joe Judge is making sure to work his players hard to prepare for the season. Judge even said today that the team is considering having Daniel Jones take off his no-hitting red jersey to get him acclimated to the hits of football (via Matt Lombardo).

The Giants wrapped up another intense practice today, as Joe Judge continues to set the tone for his new team. With less than three weeks left until the Giants’ first regular-season game, do not expect to see the Giants take their foot off the pedal anytime soon.

New York Giants: Lorenzo Carter talks personal improvement, Andrew Thomas

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter

Lorenzo Carter is entering his third season with the New York Giants. Across the 30 games he has appeared in, 14 of which he has started, the linebacker has totaled eight and a half sacks, 88 combined tackles and 23 quarterback hits.

Carter says he worked on improving his angles in the offseason after the coaching staff pointed it out to him (quotes courtesy of Giants.com).

“It was really just refining my game, like I said, working hands, working power, and working the angles really because a lot of times, it comes down to what types of angles you have. That’s one thing I saw a lot last year and then the coaches pointed it out to me when we got into the lab this year.”

The Giants edge rotation has some new faces this season. The team signed former Green Bay Packers pass rusher Kyler Fackrell to a one-year deal in free agency, selected linebackers Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin on day three of the 2020 NFL Draft and have Markus Golden back in the saddle after he signed his restricted free agent tender. They join Carter and second-year player Oshane Ximines.

Carter likes what he sees from this group.

“I think it’s great that we have a lot of talent and that we’re a little deeper in that room. Like you said, we have MG, we have X-Man, we have Fack, and even with Cam Brown, we have a lot of guys in the room that have a lot of different skill sets. It comes down to us making sure that we maximize our abilities and trusting the coaches in making sure they put us in the right positions.”

Carter thinks if they individually do their jobs, the Giants have a great chance at being a “successful” defense.

“It’s just doing our job. It’s a lot of do your job. Right now, the focus is on fundamentals and making sure that you do your job to the best of your ability. I think if we do that and I do my job setting edges, letting the linebackers do their job filling gaps, and just play together as a team, we’re going to have a great chance to be successful.”

Carter was teammates with the Giants’ 2020 first-round draft pick, tackle Andrew Thomas, at Georgia in 2017. The rookie will presumably start at one of the team’s two tackle positions this season.

The outside linebacker knew Thomas was going to be a “top first round pick” in college.

“I knew from day one when he stepped on campus at Athens that he was going to be a top first round pick. It’s nothing new. It’s the same thing he did as a freshman in college. He’s learned, grown and matured. As a rookie, he came in that far advanced too. I know I have to bring it to Andrew because like I said, he’s ready. I have to make sure he’s ready for game one.”

New York Giants: Rag-Tag Team Of Pass-Rushers Could Be Dangerous In 2020

The New York Giants‘ defense does not have a single top-tier pass-rusher. Instead, the Giants have a rag-tag group of pass-rushers and a blitz-heavy defensive scheme to generate pressure. The Dolphins Blitzed on 35% of their snaps in 2019 with Patrick Graham running the defense. The Giants are expected to run a similar defensive scheme in 2020.

New York will use its scheme to make up for its lack of EDGE talent. The Gmen do have a few talented pass-rushers on their roster, but not a proven singular game-changing pass-rusher. But the Giants might not need that. The group of underrated pass-rushers that the Giants have assembled could be dangerous for opposing offenses this season.

New York Giants: What Should Be Expected Of Lorenzo Carter in 2020?

New York Giants, Lorenzo Carter

The New York Giants have a major weak spot on defense. The Giants have invested heavily to build up their defensive line and their secondary. They have even invested to improve their linebacker corps. However, the edge rusher position has not been prioritized as much.

The Giants have drafted a couple of mid-round edge rushers and shopped in the bargain-bin during free agency. This could be because of the Giants’ defensive scheme. New defensive coordinator Patrick Graham runs a blitz-heavy defense that generates pressure through the scheme, rather than through the players.

The defensive scheme could explain the lack of a top-tier edge rusher on the Giants’ roster. But of the edge rushers on the Giants, what can we expect? In particular, what should be expected of their 2018 third-round draft pick Lorenzo Carter?

Sophomore Regression

Lorenzo Carter was a solid player during his 2018 rookie season. The former Georgia Bulldog looked promising in his limited playing time. Carter played just 40% of the team’s defensive snaps. When he was on the field, though, Carter was impressive. In 441 snaps, Lorenzo Carter totaled 4 sacks, 19 pressures, and 43 combined tackles.

Lorenzo Carter followed up his rookie with only 4.5 sacks in 723 snaps in 2019 (65%). His pressure rate of 59% plummeted to 29% as a sophomore as he posted only 23 pressures. Giants fans anticipated a breakout season from Carter in 2019 after a promising display as a rookie. Fans believed an expanded role would lead to better production. Carter’s expanded role did not lead to a better season, though.

An Improvement In Year Three?

After a disappointing 2019 season, what will 2020 have in store for Lorenzo Carter? With the key addition of Kyler Fackrell and the impressive play of Oshane Ximines in 2019, Carter could see his role decrease. The Giants might now view Carter as a specific rotational pass-rusher. He performed well in 2018 on 40% of the defense’s snaps, so the Giants could play him in that capacity in 2019 and hope that he plays better in a more refined pass-rushing role.

The Giants could also look to change Carter’s role entirely. Lorenzo has proven to be pretty good in coverage for an edge rusher. His lanky build and excellent athleticism allow Carter to cover ground and create problems in coverage.

Lorenzo Carter was actually more of a coverage linebacker in college, but he was also an efficient pass-rusher at Georgia. This is similar to Vikings’ star linebacker Anthony Barr. Barr is a weakside linebacker that is also an efficient pass-rusher, but his athleticism and versatility allow him to play in coverage. The Giants could look to use Lorenzo Carter in a similar fashion and see if he continues to thrive in coverage as a linebacker.