Team: New York Giants

Giants Not Optimistic About Wilson Returning

Just over a week after he was medically cleared to return to the field following neck surgery, Giants running back David Wilson left practice on Tuesday with a neck burner. Although Wilson tweeted last night that he’s “fine,” the team is more concerned about his status, according to Jordan Raanan & Conor Orr of NJ.com. The duo reports that the Giants believe Wilson is a long shot to return to the field, with a source suggesting that the running back “needs a miracle.”

It’s an extremely unfortunate turn of events for Wilson, who was projected to be the second-string tailback for the Giants this season behind the newly-signed Rashad Jennings, assuming both players remained healthy. No official determination has been made yet, however, as Wilson is scheduled to meet on Monday with Dr. Frank Cammisa, who performed last year’s neck surgery. After that assessment, the two sides should have a better idea of how to move forward.

It’s worth noting that the Giants have a reputation for being very cautious with neck injuries, so even if their team doctors weren’t comfortable with clearing Wilson, that doesn’t necessarily mean his NFL career is over. We’re seeing a similar situation play out with Jermichael Finley, who has reportedly been cleared by at least one NFL team doctor, but hasn’t received clearance from the Packers, who are also wary of neck and spine injuries.

NFC Notes: Lee, McCoy, Suh, Tanner

Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee is in the early stages of rehabilitation from a torn left ACL, but he’s already thinking about his future, writes Todd Archer of ESPN.com. “I think I’ll come back completely healthy,” Lee said. “Now, the question is, can I stay out there? That’s something that obviously I’m hopeful for and I’m going to do everything I can do to do that and control everything I can. But at the end of the day, there’s situations that you might not be able to avoid. I’m not going to stress too much about that end. I’m just going to do what I can do.” More from the NFC:

  • Bad news for Seahawks tight end Anthony McCoy as Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (on Twitter) hears from a source that he has torn his left Achilles. Last season, McCoy suffered a torn right Achilles and missed the entire season. In 2012, the 26-year-old’s last season on the field, he hauled in 18 receptions for 291 yards and three touchdowns while also spending time on special teams.
  • The Lions are postponing talks with Ndamukong Suh because they want him to be informed and sign a deal he’s happy with, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. It was reported yesterday that Detroit will table talks with the star defensive tackle until after the season.
  • Running back Phillip Tanner visited with the 49ers yesterday before ultimately signing with the Colts, tweets Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com. The 49ers have a new running back of their own in 27-year-old Alfonso Smith, who joined the club yesterday. San Francisco’s once-loaded RB stable is looking pretty banged up at the moment. backup Kendall Hunter tore his ACL, LaMichael James has a dislocated elbow, and Marcus Lattimore has multiple nagging injuries.
  • New Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is keeping the Big Blue’s defense on their toes in practice, writes Paul Schwartz of the New York Post. “Reps against the no-huddle does help going against the guys in Philly — their offense is very, very fast — and I think the Redskins, they do the same thing too,’’ cornerback Prince Amukamara said. “That’s only preparing us for the season.’’
  • Earlier tonight we recapped the Buccaneersoffseason.

Minor Moves: Monday

We’ll round up the day’s minor transactions from around the NFL right here, with additional moves listed at the top of the page throughout the afternoon and evening:

  • The Colts have waived WR Aaron Burks, tweets Craig Kelley of Colts.com.

Earlier updates:

  • Guard Cody White and receiver Alan Bonner have been placed on the Texans’ injured reserve list after being waived/injured, tweets Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post.
  • The Bills have removed linebacker Darrin Kitchens from their injured reserve list with an injury settlement, reports Wilson (Twitter link).
  • Rookie defensive lineman Kalonji Kashama has been waived by the Lions, according to Tim Twentyman of DetroitLions.com (via Twitter).
  • The Giants have replaced one offensive lineman with another, according to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com, tweeting that the team claimed Mark Asper off waivers from the Bills and dropped Demarcus Love.
  • The Browns have waived kicker Jake Rogers, tweets Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal.
  • The Broncos now have three open roster spots after waiving tackle Aslam Sterling with a left squad designation, per Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com (via Twitter).
  • In addition to their move noted below, the Dolphins have also signed offensive tackle Tony Hills and waived wideout Gerald Ford, the club confirmed today (via Twitter).
  • The Chiefs have signed South Alabama cornerback Damond Smith, the team announced today (via Twitter). By our count, Kansas City was already carrying 90 players, so a corresponding move figures to be made at some point today.
  • The Raiders have filled the open spot on the roster by signing safety Jeremy Deering, who also returned kicks at Rutgers, says Vic Tafur of the San Francisco Chronicle (via Twitter).
  • Former Buccaneers defensive back Anthony Gaitor has re-signed with the club, joining Michigan defensive tackle Jibreel Black as Tampa Bay’s new additions, tweets Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune. Per Scott Smith of Buccaneers.com (via Twitter), undrafted rookies Brendan Bigelow (RB) and Quintin Payton (WR) have been waived to make room for the incoming players.
  • The Browns have waived offensive lineman Chris Faulk, who was coming off a major ACL injury, according to Jeff Schudel of the News-Herald (via Twitter).
  • Offensive lineman Michael Philipp, who signed with the Dolphins two months ago, has been cut by the club, tweets Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.

NFC East Notes: McClain, Williams, Beckham

Cowboys‘ wideout Terrance Williams is going to have a chance to improve on his 2013 campaign, writes Jon Machota of DallasNews.com. The second year receiver is looking to avoid a sophomore slump by emerging as a dependable number two receiver and the third option in the passing game after Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. Bryant is even more optimistic about Williams’ chances.

“Terrance done blew up,” Bryant said. “He’s lightning fast, outstanding hands, probably one of the best route runners I’ve ever seen. He’s going to do some big things.” 

Head coach Jason Garrett said that Williams would have an increased opportunity to show off his talents. 

“I think he has a little confidence based on how he played and he’s going to have a big role for our football team,” said Garrett. “He earned a bigger role on our football team last year. We’re excited to see him play.”

Here are some other notes from around the NFC East:

  • New Cowboys‘ linebacker Rolando McClain is being given every opportunity to win a starting job with middle linebacker Sean Lee out of the season, writes Tim McMahon of ESPNDallas.com. McClain has been working mostly with the second team, but showcased his natural talent during his first practice with the team.
  • If McClain does earn that spot on the Cowboys‘ defense, he will be part of a unit trying to go from worst in the NFL in 2013 to the best in 2014. At least that is the goal cornerback Morris Claiborne has set for the defensive squad, write Machota“We were last in the league in defense and we’re trying to be No. 1,” said Claiborne. “That’s our goal. We’re not shying away from it.”
  • Giants‘ head coach Tom Coughlin is frustrated with his first-round pick’s absence from training camp, as Odell Beckham Jr. is sidelined with a hamstring injury, writes Jordan Raanan of NJ.com. Coughlin said that he was disappointed not to see Beckham on the field. “It would be nice to get him back practicing,” Coughlin said. “He actually looks pretty good out there. He’s moving around, catching the ball, he doesn’t favor anything. I’m just hoping it’s a real short amount of time.”
  • The Eagles have a shot to really hurt defenses in the passing game with their backfield in 2014, writes Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com. LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles are talented receivers out of the backfield, and could find some intriguing mismatches in the defense.
  • The two most important statistics of training camp for the Eagles thus far are a pair zeros, zero injuries and zero interceptions, according to Geoff Mosher of CSNPhilly.com. The team has managed to get through camp unscathed so far, and none of the four quarterbacks has turned the ball over through the air. Of course, while this is a positive for the team’s offense, the linebackers and secondary are not so happy with their part in that second zero.

NFC East Notes: Barbre, Randle, Carter

With Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson facing a four-game suspension, head coach Chip Kelly says Allen Barbre is next in next man up, per Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (via Twitter). CSNPhilly’s Goeff Mosher (via Twitter) says Kelly likes Barbre and that the veteran would be pushing for a more prominent role independent of Johnson’s suspension. Mosher wonders aloud if that’s a veiled message to right guard Todd Herremans.

Here’s a few more NFC East links:

  • Giants third-year receiver Rueben Randle is “still something of a mystery,” writes ESPN’s Dan Graziano. “He led the Giants with six touchdown catches in 2013 but got just as much attention (if not more) for mistakes and miscommunications that helped lead to Eli Manning interceptions.” Drafted to be a deep threat in then-offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride’s system, Randle faces an adjustment to Ben McAdoo’s system, which will require receivers to create separation closer to the line of scrimmage.
  • Could Larry Donnell be the Giants’ starting tight end? ESPN’s Dan Graziano said the coaches “really, really like Donnell and don’t have any clearly superior options,” and noted he was listed first at the position on the team’s first unofficial depth chart. Donnell (6-5 265) went undrafted out of Grambling in 2011, but latched on and earned his way on special teams. Now, he’s in position to overtake Adrien Robinson, who GM Jerry Reese is still high on despite the fact the 2012 fourth-rounder has yet to catch an NFL pass and let his weight balloon to nearly 290 pounds last season.
  • Cowboys linebacker Bruce Carter is having fun again, writes ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon, and DallasCowboys.com’s analyst Bryan Broaddus observes Carter is “playing like a player that has a much better understanding of what his responsibilities are and what technique he has to execute in order to be successful.”
  • Redskins receiver Leonard Hankerson, who is recovering from a torn left ACL and MCL, has been cleared to run, reports Mike Jones of the Washington Post.

NFC Notes: English, Beckham Jr., Redskins, Vikings

Selected in the second round of the 2010 draft, linebacker Pat Angerer made an immediate impact on the Colts defense. It seemed like the Iowa product would have a successful NFL career, but injuries derailed his plans. In December, Angerer underwent microfracture surgery, a procedure seen in the NBA but rarely in the NFL.

Less than a year later, the 27-year-old is playing with the Falcons, competing for a roster spot. Even if he doesn’t ultimately make the squad, Angerer is still thrilled with the opportunity to even play football again.

It was about 50-50 but more like 20 percent chance of coming back (with) the way my knee was,” Angerer told Michael Cunningham of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It was pretty beat up. To come back and to even be on the field, that’s a pretty big accomplishment and something I’m really proud of. I’m looking forward to taking advantage of the opportunity.”

The player is also optimistic about his surgically-repaired knee.

You definitely see the durability,” he said. “It feels better than it did the last two years. Today it felt good. This is the first time I’ve played football since December. Definitely rusty, got to get a little bit more strength in there, but I feel decent.”

Let’s see what else is going on around the NFC…

  • The Cowboys are taking a look at former first-rounder Larry English, a source told Rainer Sabin of The Dallas Morning News. The linebacker was cut by the Chargers earlier this week.
  • There is no word on when rookie Odell Beckham Jr. and his injured hamstring will be allowed to practice. As a result, ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano writes that the Giants are “frustrated that their first-round pick is not on the field.”
  • The first day of the Redskins‘ kicker competition was a “draw,” writes ESPN.com’s John Keim. Rookie Zach Hocker had longer kickoffs than Kai Forbath, but the two were perfect on their field goal attempts.
  • Wide receiver Adam Thielen was on the Vikings practice squad last season and may be in line for a larger role in 2014. “He works his rear end off, he runs his routes real hard, he catches the ball good,” coach Mike Zimmer told ESPN.com’s Ben Goessling. “He’s got an opportunity to make this football team.”

Poll: Who Will Win The NFC East?

As is the case with most other divisions around the NFL, the team that wore the crown a year ago heads into the 2014 season as the favorite to do so again — last year, the 10-6 Eagles beat out the Cowboys and Giants for the NFC East division title, and Philadelphia is the frontrunner to take the division this year as well.

Few other divisions in football have been as balanced over the last decade than the NFC East, however. Within the last five seasons, all four teams have finished atop the East at least once, and in the last seven years, no club has won the division more than twice. While the Eagles, even without DeSean Jackson, are favored in 2014, their three challengers all have solid rosters, and could topple Philadelphia if things break right.

Last year’s runner-up – Dallas – has finished with an 8-8 record for three straight seasons, and the pressure will be on this season to improve upon that mark. The club had limited cap flexibility to make offseason upgrades, but made several signings on the defensive line, and added Zack Martin to a talented offensive line that already features multiple stars. There are question marks at a few areas on the field, particularly on the defensive side, where linebacker Sean Lee will miss the season. But the Cowboys have some upside.

So too do the Giants, who got off to a horrendous start in 2013 and couldn’t make it back to .500, as Eli Manning set a new career high in interceptions (27). With a new offensive coordinator and scheme in place, there’s optimism that Manning can limit the turnovers. And while there were plenty of veteran departures, the team was active in free agency adding replacements, including cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, running back Rashad Jennings, and guard Geoff Schwartz.

As for the Redskins, a 3-13 team a year ago, they aren’t viewed as a consensus cellar-dweller. Betting site Bovada.lv gives Washington 4:1 odds to win the East, just behind the Cowboys and Giants, and a healthy Robert Griffin III should singlehandedly boost the team’s win total. With receiving playmakers DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts added to the mix, and a new coach and offensive coordinator on board, the Redskins’ offense could once again look like the exciting, dangerous unit we saw two years ago, during Griffin’s rookie season.

What do you think? Do any of last year’s non-playoff teams have the talent to take down the Eagles, or will Philadelphia become the NFC East’s first repeat division champion since 2004?

Previously:
Who will win the AFC North?
Who will win the AFC West?
Who will win the AFC South?
Who will win the AFC East?
Who will win the NFC North?
Who will win the NFC West?

Extra Points: Giants, Davis, Bucs, Clabo

Giants linebackers coach Jim Herrmann believes the team may have stumbled on a true gem with fifth-round pick Devon Kennard, writes Howie Kussay of the New York Post. “I liked him on film, obviously our college scouting liked him on film,” Herrmann said. “He played at USC and he played under four different coordinators, and played four different positions, so I think he kind of got lost in the college shuffle a little bit there.” More from around the NFL..

  • Cowboys owner Jerry Jones told reporters, including Charean Williams of the Star-Telegram (on Twitter), that a lot of the team’s “dramatic” offseason decisions freed up money that the club can use to hammer out extensions with Tyron Smith and Dez Bryant. It’s likely that Jones is referring to the situation with Kyle Orton that ended with his release earlier this month
  • According to a report from WUSA 9, former Redskins tight end Fred Davis is wanted by D.C. police for a domestic violence incident. It’s just the latest in a string of troubles for the former NFL notable who was suspended indefinitely for substance abuse and charged with a DUI over the winter.
  • Bucs GM Jason Licht says he will keep five running backs on the roster if they can help win games, tweets Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Licht added that the team is excited about Bobby Rainey. There has been speculation that the 26-year-old, who was picked up off waivers in October of last year, was on the bubble heading into the season.
  • After Tyson Clabo was signed by the Texans, the best available right tackles in the NFL are David Stewart, Eric Winston, Tony Pashos, Jonathan Scott, Dennis Roland, and Jeremy Trueblood, opines Adam Caplan of ESPN.com (on Twitter).
  • Bears GM Phil Emery was highly complimentary of new backup quarterback Jimmy Clausen, according to Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune (on Twitter). “That’s as good of a quarterback workout we’ve seen since I’ve been here,” the GM said of the former Notre Dame QB’s June tryout.
  • The Bears put veteran tight end Travis Beckum and journeyman offensive lineman Thomas Austin through tryouts Wednesday, a source told Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Beckum, 27, has been looking to find a home in the league after suffering a torn ACL in the Giants in their Super Bowl XLVI victory following the 2011 season. Austin has played eight games in the NFL with one start, spending time with the Colts last season. Unfortunately for both men, Biggs gets the sense that it’s unlikely either will get contract offers from Chicago.
  • Scott Brown of ESPN.com (on Twitter) is glad to see center Fernando Velasco catch on with the Panthers after the way he stepped up for the Steelers last season in the absence of Maurkice Pouncey. The 29-year-old was graded as Pittsburgh’s fourth-best lineman by Pro Football Focus (subscription required) in 2013.
  • The deal for new Lions wide receiver Reese Wiggins is a minimum salary deal for three years with nothing guaranteed and no bonuses, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN.com (on Twitter).

NFC Notes: Orakpo, Redskins, Rolle, Panthers

Brian Orakpo‘s long-term future with the Redskins remains up in the air, but he vows not to let his contract uncertainty bother him during the upcoming season, as he tells Brian McNally of the Washington Times.

“You can talk about contracts and this and that. Throw all that out the window, man,” Orakpo said. “I’m signed for the 2014 season. I need to go out there and make plays. I need to go out there and be a force. That’s what I’ve been working extremely hard at because this defense relies on myself to go out there and make big plays so we can get off the field.”

Here’s more from around the NFC:

  • During most of his time as general manager for the Redskins and Buccaneers, Bruce Allen has shared decision-making responsibility with a head coach (Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden, respectively). However, with Shanahan no longer in Washington, the GM has “unprecedented authority to direct the franchise,” writes Jason Reid of the Washington Post.
  • Entering the final season of his five-year contract with the Giants, Antrel Rolle has yet to discuss an extension with the team, according to Tom Rock of Newsday. While Rolle would like to continue playing with the Giants beyond 2014, he acknowledges that “it’s possible” he’ll end up elsewhere, downplaying the need to focus on his contract situation at this point.
  • Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer takes a look at Charlotte native Brenton Bersin‘s quest to earn a spot on the Panthers‘ regular-season roster in 2014.

Offseason In Review: New York Giants

Notable signings:

Notable losses:

Extensions and restructures:

  • Chris Snee (G): Accepted pay cut. Reduced 2014 base salary from $6.75MM to $2MM in exchange for $1MM in guaranteed base salary and up to $500K in per-game roster bonuses.
  • Steve Weatherford (P): Accepted pay cut. Reduced 2014 base salary from $2.025MM to $900K in exchange for increased roster bonus, workout bonus, and incentives.
  • Mathias Kiwanuka (LB): Accepted pay cut. Reduced 2014 base salary from $4.375MM to $1.5MM in exchange for $700K roster bonus and up to $125K in incentives.

Draft picks:

  • Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU (1.12): Signed
  • Weston Richburg, C, Colorado State (2.43): Signed
  • Jay Bromley, DT, Syracuse (3.74): Signed
  • Andre Williams, RB, Boston College (4.113): Signed
  • Nat Berhe, S, San Diego State (5.152): Signed
  • Devon Kennard, OLB, USC (5.174): Signed
  • Bennett Jackson, CB, Notre Dame (6.187): Signed

Other:

The Giants didn’t renovate this offseason, they practically knocked their house down and built a brand new one. Nearly half of the G-Men roster hit free agency following the 2013 season and, predictably, their 2014 incarnation will look rather different. The Giants historically like to build from within, but they had little choice after a 7-9 showing last season.

Big Blue’s biggest move of all was signing cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a five-year, $35MM deal as a part of their rebuild of the secondary. After signing a one-year deal with the Broncos last year, DRC enjoyed a strong season in Denver, snagging three interceptions and breaking up 19 passes while ranking fifth overall among 110 qualified cornerbacks, according to Pro Football Focus’ metrics (subscription required). A $35MM pact is far from cheap, but it’s certainly not an overpay for Rodgers-Cromartie, even with nearly $12MM guaranteed. The Broncos made a six-year, $54MM offer to him before landing Aqib Talib, though that offer didn’t include enough guaranteed money to make him want to stay put. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

Joining Rodgers-Cromartie in the overhauled secondary will be cornerback Walter Thurmond and safety Quintin Demps. Thurmond, who missed a quarter of last season thanks to a violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, recorded 24 tackles to go along with one interception and one sack for the defending Super Bowl champs. Thurmond won’t be as integral as DRC or Prince Amukamara, of course, but he should fill the slot role nicely after the departure of Terrell Thomas. Demps, who signed at a discount price, will start at free safety with Antrel Rolle at the other safety spot.

For all of the change happening in East Rutherford, NJ, the Giants maintained some stability when it comes to their linebackers. Jon Beason, who was widely viewed as the No. 1 priority for the Giants amongst their own free agents, was retained with a three-year, $17MM deal (~$6MM guaranteed). It’s a nice deal for the 29-year-old University of Miami product and he won’t have to dole out an extra 10% to anyone since he represented himself in negotiations. The advanced metrics weren’t kind to Beason as Pro Football Focus’ stats ranked him 47th out of 55 qualified inside linebackers last season. Even though his pass coverage might have been lacking, he still registered 93 tackles and an interception in just 12 games with the Giants. One new face joining Beason will be former Ravens LB Jameel McClain. McClain will be moving from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 defense but should be a disruptive force for his new team if he stays healthy. The 28-year-old has missed nine games over the last two seasons. A familiar face, Spencer Paysinger, will be back in the fold after accepting a $1.43MM restricted free agent tender. Linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka accepted a pay cut in the offseason, keeping him in place as well. Keith Rivers and Marcus Dowtin, meanwhile, will be plying their craft elsewhere in 2014.

The Giants also moved on from a pair of expensive veterans on the defensive line this offseason in Justin Tuck and Linval Joseph. To help replace Tuck, the Giants inked Robert Ayers to a very reasonable two-year, $3.75MM contract. The former first round pick started 27 games in Denver over five seasons and has a reputation for stuffing the run like few others can and registered 5.5 sacks last season. On the interior, third-round pick Jay Bromley and Mike Patterson (signed to a minimum deal) will be there to support projected starters Johnathan Hankins and Cullen Jenkins. Those men will have to step their games up considerably after Joseph was plucked by the Vikings.

Aside from Rodgers-Cromartie, the Giants’ biggest free agent signing was offensive guard Geoff Schwartz. The Giants’ guard situation left much to be desired with mediocre options such as Kevin Boothe. Schwartz, on the other hand, was both a pass-blocking force and a strong run-blocker for Kansas City last season once he was brought into the starting lineup. The Giants also made a very interesting move when they picked up center J.D. Walton, who hasn’t seen the field since Week 4 of the 2012 season. When he was healthy, Walton was viewed as a high-upside talent, but it’s been a long time since he’s seen the gridiron. If he’s healthy, the Giants may have pulled off two of the best o-line signings of this offseason.

Schwartz and Walton will look to open up holes for the returning Peyton Hillis and new addition Rashad Jennings. After years of backing up NFL notables Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, Jennings is looking to establish himself as a feature back. He’s coming off of a season in which he ran for a career-high 733 yards last season and he should surpass that total easily as the Giants’ No. 1 option at tailback. Eli Manning, who was less-than-stellar in 2013, will need a strong running game to help keep defenses honest. The addition of first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. should help make his job easier as well. The speedy LSU wide receiver vaulted up boards in the weeks leading up to the May draft and a number of teams were drooling over his skill set, including MetLife Stadium’s other tenants.

The NFC East wasn’t all that imposing last season and if the trend carries into 2014, the Giants could have an easier path to the postseason than a lot of other teams in the NFL. No matter how things play out, you can’t fault GM Jerry Reese for a lack of trying. Big Blue has turned things upside-down in search of their fifth franchise Super Bowl.

Spotrac and Over The Cap were used in the creation of this post. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.