Tagged in: joe judge

New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley takes next step in recovery, completes first contact practice

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley and wide receiver Kenny Golladay participated in a padded practice Thursday, and Barkley took some contact seemingly without incident for the first time since tearing the ACL in his right knee 11 months ago.

It was the latest step in Barkley’s progression and a mandatory one before he gets into a match, according to coach Joe Judge. The Giants open the campaign Sept. 12 versus the Denver Broncos.

“We did a normal practice safely, and just talked to the guys and [they] gave me some good shots,” Barkley said afterward. “But it’s [about] route running and running routes just to get me back in the flow of things, so I guess you could say yes [I took my first hit].

“But [Thursday] felt good at practice and practicing with everyone on the team. Think that was definitely needed. Just grateful to be out there and just getting ready for the season.”

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Barkley will have to get through another fully padded practice next week before likely getting cleared by doctors.

The Giants don’t practice again until Monday.

Barkley is trending in the right direction and has a strong chance to play Week 1 versus Denver, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. There is optimism, but the Giants have been cautious and still could hold him back. It will ultimately be a team-driven decision.

“This whole process I’ve been a team player listening to the doctors, listening to the coaches, listening to the trainers, knowing that they have my best interest at heart,” Barkley said. “Whatever they feel that is best for me and best for the team, I’m willing to do.”

Barkley was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Aug. 9. He worked his way into live drills for the first time last week during joint practices with the New England Patriots while wearing a red no-contact jersey.

On Thursday, he shed the red jersey for the first time in live drills. Did he feel like his old self out on the field?

“I guess. I feel good. Taking it one day at a time,” Barkley said. “I’m just not even trying to think about do I look like my old self. I’m a very confident player. I know whenever I’m able to get back out there — maybe it might be one quarter, maybe it might be one play — whatever the opportunity is, when I’m back out there, I know I’m going to be able to go out there and be who I am and play how I am.

“Right now, I’m not focusing on if I’m making cuts, saying, ‘Is that how it was before?’ I’m focusing on getting in football shape, just living in the moment, enjoying the moment and playing football again.”

There isn’t much time left. The Giants have 10 days and just four practices before their season opener. Only one is expected to be with full pads. Getting through that would help Barkley inch nearer to being ready for Week 1.

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New York Giants sign former first-rounder Kelvin Benjamin

The New York Giants have signed former Carolina Panthers first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin, the team revealed Sunday.

Benjamin and former Philadelphia Eagles running back and Super Bowl hero Corey Clement impressed over the weekend during tryouts at rookie minicamp and received one-year deals.

A wide receiver who had more than 1,000 yards as a rookie for the Panthers in 2013, Benjamin has not played in the NFL since 2018. He worked primarily as a tight end at the tryout.

“In terms of Benjamin working a different position [Friday], we’re going to work different guys at a variety of things right now,” Giants coach Joe Judge said.

“He’s a big guy. He’s always been a big receiver. He’ll work receiver. He’s working a little bit flex tight end as well. “I wouldn’t really kind of, you know, pin him down to any one position at this point. We’re going to use the weekend to move him around to different spots and see how it works out.”

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Benjamin would join a crowded tight end room along with Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, Kaden Smith and Levine Toilolo. The Giants also are deep at wide receiver after adding Kenny Golladay and John Ross in free agency and drafting Kadarius Toney in the first round.

This will make it tough for Benjamin to eventually land a spot on the final roster, regardless of position.

It was just three years ago during a Monday Night Football broadcast that ESPN analyst Booger McFarland famously declared Benjamin was “probably a Popeyes biscuit away from being a tight end.”

Benjamin, 30, has spent time with the Panthers, Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs. He has 209 career receptions for 3,021 yards and 20 touchdowns. The 28th overall pick in 2014 was drafted in Carolina by current Giants general manager Dave Gettleman.

Clement, 26, spent the first four campaigns of his professional career with the Eagles. He has been slowed in recent years by injury but is best known for his performance in Super Bowl LII, when he had 100 receiving yards and a touchdown in the Eagles’ upset win over the New England Patriots.

Clement also helped execute the Philly Special, a trick play that resulted in a touchdown reception by quarterback Nick Foles.

The Giants needed veteran depth at running back. With Saquon Barkley coming back from a serious knee injury, the Giants signed Devontae Booker as a free agent and drafted Gary Brightwell in the sixth round.

New York also announced that it had waived running back Jordan Chunn and tight end Nate Wieting.

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New York Giants RB Saquon Barkley on track to be ready for start of season

New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley is on track to be ready for the beginning of the season, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Barkley tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during a Week 2 loss at Chicago. He had surgery in late October, giving him almost 11 months to rehab and be ready for the start of the 2021 season.

The procedure included ACL reconstruction and meniscus repair. It was deemed a success at the time.

The Giants also picked up the fifth-year option on Barkley’s rookie contract Wednesday, the team revealed. With the move, Barkley’s 2022 salary, worth about $7.2 million according to OverTheCap.com, becomes fully guaranteed.

Barkley told the AP Pro Football Podcast in February that his surgically repaired knee was doing well, but he would not set a possible return date at that time.

Barkley and the Giants have been optimistic from the start that the team’s top offensive player would return at full strength for this season. Coach Joe Judge told him it’s “gonna be a hell of a story.”

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Barkley has been training primarily in Los Angeles and Arizona this offseason. He has spent time rehabbing alongside former teammate and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who also is rehabbing an ACL tear.

The Giants have been working under the assumption that Barkley would get back to 100 percent. Still, they allowed backup Wayne Gallman to walk in free agency and replaced him with Devontae Booker because of his three-down capabilities.

Barkley, 24, was hurt on Sept. 20. He was running toward the sideline when Chicago Bears safety Eddie Jackson tackled him. Barkley grabbed the knee as he was headed to the ground.

Barkley was helped off the field and later carted to the locker room. He had four rushes for 28 yards before exiting. His season ended with 19 rushes for 34 yards and no touchdowns. It was the second consecutive injury-shortened season for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft.

Barkley played 13 games and just barely topped 1,000 yards rushing in 2019 as he dealt with a pesky high ankle sprain. He won Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2018, when he led the NFL with 2,028 yards from scrimmage and scored 15 total touchdowns.

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Giants expected to retain GM Dave Gettleman

The New York Giants have decided to keep Dave Gettleman in place as their general manager for a fourth season.

The Post reports substantiated several other reports that have suggested the same.

After another losing season, which dropped the Giants’ record to an abysmal 15-33 during Gettleman’s tenure, there were rumors that Giants brass was thinking of letting him go or re-assigning him to an advisory role within the organization.

However, ownership thinks the team showed enough progress in Gettleman’s third-year and are headed in the right direction.

While Gettleman received well-deserved heat for hiring previous failed head coach in Pat Shurmur, he also played a large role in the hiring of head coach Joe Judge, who showed promise as a leader in his rookie year.

Personnel wise, the Giants’ roster still has a lot of holes to fill, but the signings of James Bradberry, Blake Martinez, Logan Ryan and Graham Gano were home run additions.

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Gettleman’s investment in Leonard Williams also paid dividends as Williams had a career season with 11.5 sacks, 57 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, and 30 quarterback hits.

Despite continuous displeasure from their fan base regarding Gettleman’s time as GM, Giants ownership felt they had seen enough in 2020 to keep the current regime in place.

Although the team went 6-10, they were in contention for the NFC East until the final evening of the regular season due to poor competition within the division.

And while ownership said they wanted to be playing meaningful games in December, being a product of a poor divisional race likely did not play a factor in bringing Gettleman back. This decision came from the improvement of the team as the season progressed and the culture that the coaching staff built on the field and in the locker room.

Judge also publicly thumped for Gettleman, telling reporters recently that he’s thoroughly enjoyed working with the GM.

“I’ve enjoyed working with Dave the entire year,” said Judge. “We’ve done a lot of good things together. I really enjoyed the process of free agency and the draft. Obviously, we went through training camp, and there was a lot of logistical work we had to do in this particular spring and summer in terms of getting the setups ready for when the team came back.

“I think everyone is doing a good job right now in terms of understanding where we want to go and pushing in the right direction. There’s been some great coordination and communication with Dave [Gettleman] and everyone in personnel in terms of the kinds of players that fit into our systems.”

Co-owner John Mara and Gettleman will speak to the media on either Tuesday or Wednesday to discuss the decision. Gettleman will turn 70-years-old in February.

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New York Giants QB Daniel Jones has second leg injury

New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones is dealing with a second “lower leg issue” coming out of Sunday’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals, coach Joe Judge stated Wednesday.

Jones confirmed Wednesday afternoon it was a low ankle sprain and that it was “sore.” This is in addition to the right hamstring strain that limited his ability to run, resulting in six sacks in the 26-7 loss, and forced him to miss the previous week’s game.

“There really is nothing worse for the wear with the previous injury,” Judge said as the Giants returned to practice. “He did come out with some bumps and bruises. There is another lower leg issue we’re dealing with right now. We’re going to go ahead and move him around at practice and see where he’s at.”

Judge said no decision has been made about whether his starting quarterback will be able to play Sunday night versus the Cleveland Browns. Jones, with a propensity to downplay injuries, said the hamstring feels good and overall he “felt good” during Wednesday’s practice.

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Colt McCoy, who saw an increase in practice reps with Jones listed as a limited participant in practice, would start if Jones can’t play.

“I’m going to give him the opportunity this week to work through practice, see how he moves and how he reacts to things,” Judge stated. “… If he’s not at risk beyond any normal game, then we’ll go ahead and give him the chance to play. If we think that is an issue, that he can’t go out there and defend himself, then we’ll make then best decision for him long term and the team as well.”

Jones looked hampered during Wednesday’s open portion of practice. He backpedaled gingerly while the team warmed up and stretched, and he hobbled at times during individual drills.

His back leg even jolted a couple times after making short throws.

McCoy, who started in Jones’ place in a 17-12 win over the Seattle Seahawks, took more reps than usual at Wednesday’s practice. McCoy was behind center for the first snap with the first-team offense, which is generally a decent indication of who starts at quarterback that week.

Jones was 11-of-21 for 127 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions and a lost fumble against Arizona. The second-year quarterback did not have a rushing attempt for the first time in his career.

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New York Giants fire offensive line coach Marc Colombo

The New York Giants fired offensive line coach Marc Colombo following a nasty verbal confrontation with head coach Joe Judge, sources told ESPN, and have substituted him with longtime NFL assistant Dave DeGuglielmo.

“We appreciate what Marc has done, but I felt like this move is in the best interest of the team,” Judge said in a statement released by the team Wednesday.

When Colombo was told of a plan by Judge to hire DeGuglielmo as a consultant on Tuesday night, it did not go down well.

Colombo did not agree with the move and felt that he was being undermined, a source told ESPN, due to DeGuglielmo’s background as an offensive line coach. Another source added that the hands-on Judge wanted to bring in “one of his guys” to capture more control at a position that is not his expertise. Although there was plenty of name-calling, Colombo and Judge did not get into a fistfight, as one report indicated. A Giants spokesperson stated the report of a physical altercation is “absolutely false in every way.”

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The move to fire Colombo was a surprise considering that the Giants’ offensive line has shown improvement in recent weeks. The Giants have rushed for more than 150 yards in each of their past three matches.

Colombo was hired by Judge this offseason to work under Colombo’s former boss Jason Garrett, the offensive coordinator. Colombo was previously line coach for the Dallas Cowboys.

But Judge has been more involved in recent weeks in working with the Giants’ offensive line.

DeGuglielmo was an assistant offensive line coach/quality control with the Giants from 2004 to ’08. He also worked with Judge in New England when he coached the Patriots’ offensive line in 2014 and ’15.

Judge interviewed DeGuglielmo for the offensive line coach job earlier this year.

Colombo, 42, played 10 years in the NFL for the Chicago Bears, Cowboys and Miami Dolphins.

He worked as an assistant with the Cowboys for each of the previous four campaigns.

Among Colombo’s top jobs has been to work with the Giants’ young offensive linemen. Three of their first five picks in this year’s draft were offensive linemen, including No. 4 overall pick Andrew Thomas. Fifth-round pick Shane Lemieux was recently inserted into the starting lineup, and third-round selection Matt Peart has been rotated in.

But Thomas struggled early, and his sloppy technique became a topic of conversation. “We sat down, had conversations with Andrew, talked about taking [his technique] from the practice field to the game. That is what he’s done lately,” Colombo said last week.

“He has a new air of confidence. The past couple weeks he has played really well. His timing has been better. His pass sets have been better. His run blocking has been better. We just have to keep growing. I’ve noticed a more confident Andrew the past few weeks.”

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