Azeez Ojulari

Giants Activate OLB Azeez Ojulari, S Tony Jefferson From IR

The Giants are in the midst of a bit of a midseason slump during a crucial four-game stretch of division games. They are activating pass rusher Azeez Ojulari and safety Tony Jefferson from injured reserve in hopes that they’ll be able to turn things around after losing three of their last four, according to Giants senior writer Michael Elsen.

New York will certainly be glad to see Ojulari return to the field to assist with an aspect of the game they’ve struggled with so far this season: sack production. Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale has been able to produce some form of pass rush, much like he did during his time with the Ravens, by getting creative and sending blitzers from every part of the field. While this has resulted in 12 different players contributing to the team’s sack total, the Giants haven’t gotten consistent results out of any one player, besides defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. Lawrence leads the team with five sacks and is the only one of those 12 players with more than two.

Ojulari not only will get to the quarterback, as he showed he could during his rookie season when he led the team with eight sacks, but his presence should help the other defensive lineman provide more of a natural pass rush. With offensive linemen focused on Ojulari, Lawrence, Leonard Williams, and this year’s No. 5 overall pick, Kayvon Thibodeaux, should be freed up with some one-on-one matchups.

Jefferson is a depth piece in the Giants secondary. After two standard gameday elevations, Jefferson was signed to the team’s active roster for their London game against the Packers. Jefferson unfortunately suffered a foot injury in the game and was promptly placed on IR. With starting safety Xavier McKinney ruled out for the fourth-straight game, Jefferson provides a solid option alongside Dane Belton to start opposite the team’s other starting safety, Julian Love.

New York also made an exchange at the tight end position in today’s transactions. The Giants signed veteran tight end Nick Vannett to the active roster from the practice squad, waiving tight end Tanner Hudson to make room. With fourth-round rookie, and expected starter, Daniel Bellinger missing the last four games with an eye injury, the Giants have recently turned to recent addition Lawrence Cager who converted from wide receiver this past offseason. The team is expecting to finally get Bellinger back but will have Cager and Vannett available for backup.

Lastly, New York has promoted defensive tackle Vernon Butler and defensive back Zyon Gilbert as standard gameday elevations from the practice squad for tomorrow’s matchup with the Commanders. If Gilbert enters the game for Big Blue tomorrow, it would be the NFL debut for the undrafted rookie out of Florida Atlantic.

Giants Designate Ben Bredeson, Azeez Ojulari, Tony Jefferson For Return

The Giants were one of the surprise stories of the NFL during the early portion of the season, but the team has become increasingly hampered by injuries on both sides of the ball lately. New York will soon be receiving reinforcements, however, as the team has designated three players for return from IR.

Left guard Ben Bredeson is among the trio, something which will soon give the Giants another starting option up front. The former fourth-rounder was not projected to be a first-teamer to begin the campaign, but an injury to Shane Lemieux changed those plans. Bredeson played in a rotation with rookie Joshua Ezeudu through the first two games of the season, but then operated as a full-time starter before landing on IR last month. His return may not need to be rushed, given the fact that Lemieux has since been activated.

Edge rusher Azeez Ojulari could provide the Giants with depth at the position if he is able to remain healthy. The 2021 second-rounder impressed as a rookie with a team-leading eight sacks, but has hardly played this year. Ojulari spent time on the NFI list in the summer due to a calf injury, but was not placed on IR right away with the team hoping he could suit up at some point in September. That was the case, as the Georgia product played in Weeks 3 and 4, but a reaggravation of the previous ailment has kept him sidelined ever since. If he can regain his form from last season and serve as a bookend to rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux, New York’s pass rush could receive a considerable boost.

Lastly, veteran safety Tony Jefferson‘s practice window has been opened. The 30-year-old has only played three games in 2022, after following Giants defensive coordinator Don Martindale from Baltimore to the Big Apple. The Giants are dealing with starter Xavier McKinney currently on the shelf due to an ATV accident earlier this month. That could leave defensive snaps available for Jefferson upon his return, especially if the team opts to use more three-safety packages amidst their injuries at cornerback.

Each player now has a three-week time period within which they must be activated to be eligible to play again in 2022. If all three are brought back, the Giants will have used up each of their remaining activations for the season, but they will also have at least rotational contributors in place for the stretch run.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/22/22

Here are the league’s minor moves going into Week 7:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

New York Giants

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

Giants QB Daniel Jones To Play In Week 5

OCTOBER 7: Jones will play against the Packers in London. The Giants took the fourth-year quarterback off their injury report. The Giants ruled out Taylor, however. Webb will back up Jones.

OCTOBER 6: The Giants will be without four starters this weekend. Wide receivers Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari, and cornerback Cor’Dale Flott did not make the flight to London for Sunday’s game against the Packers.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter), Golladay suffered a sprained MCL during Sunday’s win over the Bears. It sounds like this would be a temporary absence for the veteran wideout, although the Giants won’t have any extra time following their trip across the Atlantic. Despite earning his first start of the season on Sunday, Golladay still isn’t a major factor in the Giants’ offense. Through four appearances, he’s hauled in two catches on six targets.

Toney has been dealing with a hamstring injury that’s forced him to miss the past two games. There was some optimism that he could return this weekend after he was a limited participant on Wednesday, but he didn’t practice today.

“He’s done everything we’ve asked,” offensive coordinator Mike Kafka said today (via ESPN’s Jordan Raanan). “He’s practiced hard when he’s practicing. It’s unfortunate, but he’s one of those guys that does everything we asked and is working his tail off in the training room and in the meeting rooms. He does a great job with that.”

There is some good news on the injury front. Per Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com, Daniel Jones is “trending in the right direction” for this weekend. The QB has been a limited participant this week while nursing an ankle injury, but he made the flight to London and is expected to give it a go. With backup Tyrod Taylor likely sidelined with a concussion, the Giants will probably promote Davis Webb from their practice squad for some extra depth.

Kayvon Thibodeaux To Make Giants Debut

The Giants managed to win their first two games without both their starting outside linebackers. They will have an improved defensive lineup against the Cowboys on Monday night.

Azeez Ojulari and No. 5 overall pick Kayvon Thibodeaux are active for the Giants. This comes after Thibodeaux managed three limited practices leading up to the NFC East matchup. An MCL sprain sustained during the preseason led to Thibodeaux not beginning his Giants regular-season run on time. Leonard Williams, who suffered an MCL sprain in Week 2, is inactive.

A year ago, Thibodeaux was viewed as a possible No. 1 overall pick. The Oregon pass rusher’s stock dipped slightly during the pre-draft period, leading to rumors he could endure a bit of a draft-night fall. The Giants prevented that from happening, selecting him with the first of their two first-round choices. The Thibodeaux-Ojulari pairing will be, investment-wise, easily the team’s top edge-rushing duo since Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon.

After trading JPP in 2018 and Vernon in 2019, the Giants took an unusually minimalistic approach at this premium position. The team passed on using premium draft capital on the spot in 2019 or 2020, despite an apparent glaring need, and saw its edge production suffer during Markus Golden‘s abbreviated 2020 slate (before an in-season trade sent him back to Arizona). Ojulari, however, made an impact as a rookie second-rounder last season, registering eight sacks. Ojulari, who missed time with a calf injury, will now team with one of the highest-profile defensive investments in Giants history.

Thibodeaux, who will not turn 22 until December, posted 19 sacks in three Ducks seasons. Attitude- and work ethic-based concerns led to the slight draft drop, below edges Travon Walker and Aidan Hutchinson. The 6-foot-5 outside linebacker will have a chance to prove himself as a pro beginning in a nationally televised spot. The Giants had used former third-round pick Oshane Ximines and ex-Don Martindale Ravens charge Jihad Ward as their edge starters over the first two weeks.

Giants LB Azeez Ojulari Expects To Play Monday Night

It sounds like Azeez Ojulari will make his season debut on Monday night. The Giants linebacker told reporters that he’ll play against the Cowboys, per Paul Schwartz of the New York Post (on Twitter).

The 2021 second-round pick injured his calf during a practice in late August. The team avoided placing him on injured reserve with the hope that he’d return within the first four games. It sounds like the gamble worked out, as Ojulari will have ultimately missed only a pair of games.

Ojulari had a productive rookie season in New York, finishing with 49 tackles, eight sacks, and 13 QB hits. Pro Football Focus graded him as a below-average edge defender, but despite an especially low pass-rushing score, he still managed to put up solid numbers for a rookie.

The 22-year-old won’t be the only pass rusher aiming to take the field this weekend. Kayvon Thibodeaux is hoping to make his NFL debut on Monday after nursing a knee injury suffered during the preseason.

“Thibs and Azeez, they’re getting close,” coach Brian Daboll told reporters (via Michael Eisen of the team’s website). “They’re going to take some team reps today. I think they took a little bit last week, but they’re going to take more this week. They’re getting close, so we’ll see with them. I’d say they’re still day-to-day even though they’re on the close side.”

When the two players return, Jihad Ward and Oshane Ximines will likely be demoted to secondary roles on the edge.

Giants’ Kayvon Thibodeaux Out For Week 1

The Giants will be shorthanded in the edge rush department when they begin the season against the Titans this afternoon. Rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux is among the team’s inactives (Twitter link via Dan Salomone of the team’s website). 

The No. 5 pick in this year’s draft, Thibodeaux suffered an MCL sprain during the preseason, which came with a recovery timeline of at least three weeks. That made a Week 1 debut possible, but it was always more likely that the Giants would tread carefully with their highly-touted rookie.

The Oregon product was considered a candidate to fall down the board at times during the pre-draft process, but was the third edge rusher to hear his name called. His final season with the Ducks took him out of the conversation to go No. 1 overall, but the Giants were pleased to land the 6-5, 250-pounder and envision a versatile role for him. New York ranked 22nd last season in sacks, and Thibodeaux will likely go a long way in determining whether or not the team can improve in 2022.

Fellow projected starter Azeez Ojulari will also be sidelined, as had been expected in the build-up to today’s game. The 2021 second-rounder had a productive rookie campaign with eight sacks and 49 total stops, so his absence will be exacerbated by that of Thibodeaux and, to a lesser extent, fellow rookie Darrian Beavers. The Giants have Oshane Ximines, Tomon Fox and practice squad elevation Quincy Roche to lead their pass rush.

Giants Activate LB Azeez Ojulari

Giants linebacker Azeez Ojulari has been activated off the club’s NFI list, per Michael Eisen of the team’s official website. Ojulari practiced with the team on Sunday, the first time he has done so since camp opened late last month.

The 2021 second-rounder had been dealing with a hamstring injury, so his return to the field is a welcome sight for an outfit that is looking to start emerging from a rebuild. As a rookie, Ojulari led the team with eight sacks, which represented a franchise record for first-year players. He played in all 17 of New York’s games, starting 13 of them. His 58.3 overall grade and 56.9 pass rushing grade from Pro Football Focus were suboptimal, but his surface-level stats — which also included 13 quarterback hits — show plenty of potential.

Between Ojulari, Leonard Williams, and first-round rookie Kayvon Thibodeaux, the Giants have the foundation of a potentially formidable pass rush. In addition to Thibodeaux, the team also added Jihad Ward in free agency this year and invested a fourth-round pick in Elerson Smith. 2019 third-rounder Oshane Ximines remains on the roster, along with 2021 waiver claim Quincy Roche.

Big Blue also made a series of cuts on Sunday, parting ways with DB Michael Jacquet, G Josh Rivas, and S Jarrod Wilson. Wilson spent the first five years of his career with the Jaguars, the last two of which saw him operate as a full-time starter at safety. He saw action in nine games (three starts) last season, which he split between the Jets and 49ers. The veteran defensive back just signed with the Giants earlier this month.

Jacquet, who signed with the Eagles as a UDFA in 2020, has seen action in eight games (two starts) between Philadelphia and Jacksonville over the past two seasons. The Giants had signed Rivas, a Kansas State product, as part of their own UDFA class earlier this year.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/26/22

Today’s minor NFL transactions, including a handful of notable names landing on the physically unable to perform list and the non-football injury list as teams open up camp:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

  • Released with NFI designation: WR Cody Core

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Commanders

NFC Rumors: Giants, Saints, Adams, Bears

Part of 2019’s Odell Beckham Jr. trade, Jabrill Peppers is going into his fifth-year option season. However, the Giants‘ three-year, $31MM extension for Logan Ryan back in December may well have signaled they are OK moving on from the former first-round pick after this season, Dan Duggan of The Athletic writes (subscription required). The Giants signed Ryan shortly after Xavier McKinney suffered a broken foot and extended him toward the end of the year. By season’s end, the team had Ryan, Peppers and McKinney available. Ryan and McKinney are signed through 2023, though Ryan has no guarantees beyond this year. While Peppers (25 starts as a Giant) would attract interest as a 2022 free agent, his role and performance this season will go a long way toward determining his long-term value.

Of the players that changed teams in that 2019 deal, Peppers, Beckham and Dexter Lawrence — the first-round pick the Browns sent to the Giants — remain with their teams. Kevin Zeitler and Olivier Vernon are not. With Beckham’s long-term status in Cleveland uncertain and Peppers in a contract year, Lawrence may be the only holdover from this trade come 2022. Here is the latest from the NFC:

  • Despite Lorenzo Carter going down with an Achilles tear in October, the Giants are prepared to reinstall him as a starter, Duggan notes. Carter returned for the Giants’ offseason program. The former third-round pick out of Georgia has 9.5 career sacks and, like Peppers, is entering a contract year. The Giants have not been especially aggressive at outside linebacker during Dave Gettleman‘s GM tenure, but they did use a second-round choice this year on USC’s Azeez Ojulari. He, 2019 third-rounder Oshane Ximines and fourth-round rookie Elerson Smith are in the mix to start opposite Carter, per Duggan. The Giants added veterans Ryan Anderson and Ifeadi Odenigbo as well, but they appear to be competing for rotational work.
  • Marcus Williams is one of this year’s seven remaining franchise-tagged players. The Saints surprised most when they created cap space to tag the talented safety, but if they cannot complete an extension by July 15, they should not be expected to entertain a second tag in 2022, Joel Corry of CBS Sports writes. Marshon Lattimore playing this season on his fifth-year option would make him a higher-priority free agent come March, and whoever wins New Orleans’ quarterback job — set to be a Jameis WinstonTaysom Hill competition — could fall into the 2022 tag mix as well.
  • One factor complicating the SeahawksJamal Adams talks: the Pro Bowl safety wanting not only to become the highest-paid player at the position but seeking to end up on his own financial tier. Adams does not want to be viewed as a pure safety, and thus be confined to the position’s salary range, Corry adds. Adams does not rate as a top-tier coverage safety, but he is a historically productive pass rusher for the position and is used in myriad capacities. With Seattle having traded two first-rounders for him, a deal is expected to come to fruition soon.
  • The Bears made a couple of changes to their scouting staff. They promoted Jeff King to the pro scouting director post. King joined the team as a pro scout in 2016. The former NFL tight end interviewed for the Panthers’ assistant GM job in May. Chicago also promoted Sam Summerville from area scout to national scout. The Fritz Pollard Alliance named Summerville, a Bears scout since 2012, as its NFC scout of the year in 2019.