Minute by minute the 2014 NFL Draft draws closer. And while the anxiety may continue to build, the NFL wheel also continues to turn. As such, we briefly step away from NFL Draft-dominant morning storylines and, instead, present a few other New York Giants' options for you to enjoy over your morning coffee.
It’s been a long time since Jason Pierre-Paul felt like himself, like the kid who seemed ready to dominate the NFL for years back in 2011. He was still relatively new to football then, and seemingly just scratching the surface with 16½ sacks. That was before his young body began to break down.
It’s taken until now for JPP to feel like he’s finally built his body back up.
If he really has, that might be the best news of the Giants’ entire offseason — better than anything they’ve done in their $116.3 million spending spree. After two years of being hampered by back injuries, after a major back surgery last June, and after battling a shoulder injury for much of 2013, Pierre-Paul — still only 25 — is still potentially the Giants’ best defensive player.
It was difficult not to notice the dynamics at work when the New York Giants met the media for the opening of their offseason workouts this week. Eli Manning and his walking-boot-encased left ankle were put on a podium for his few minutes of questions and answers, requiring a large step down, for which Manning grabbed hold of a backdrop to steady himself as he walked away. For the few steps before he was safely inside again, Manning was greeted by a phalanx of cameras intent on capturing his slowed gait, giving the whole scene the bizarre feel of a perp walk for the athletic trainer set.
That is what happens when there are concerns about the franchise quarterback, of course, a situation that Josh Freeman used to be familiar with. A few minutes after Manning disappeared behind the glass doors, Freeman appeared. He stood off to the side, on the back porch of the Giants' training facility, essentially trying to explain how, in less than one calendar year, he had traveled the very long distance from being the guy who needed a podium to accommodate the attention he attracted to the player the Giants hope nobody even thinks about talking to once training camp starts and Manning and his liberated ankle return to the field.
"Last year, I would never have imagined this happening," Freeman said in a short interview. "I can't put my finger on exactly what happened. It was a frustrating time. You've got to learn to let things go. At this point, just thinking about it is only going to take time away from preparation in the present. I've laid it to rest. As frustrating as it was, it's over."
“I think, in a lot of cases, you’d be thrilled, and you’d be excited to get drafted,” Manning told The Post this week, recalling the moment. “Obviously my circumstances [were] a little different under kind of everything that had happened that week in stating my cause that I didn’t want to go to San Diego. I was just kind of hoping something would work out, and sooner than later — either a trade, or — and didn’t really know how the next few days, next few hours, next few weeks, months, years were going to work out after that.”
While the early reviews are based solely on classroom tutelage, there is no doubt the Giants’ offensive unit is in for a considerable philosophical and physical shock.
Chris Snee, the 11th-year guard, said: “We’re all trying to wrap our heads around it. The terminology itself is like learning a new language.”
It is much more than mental preparation. The Giants’ offense will appear fundamentally altered. The concepts about what makes a running play successful will be transformed. So will the blocking schemes. On pass plays, the ball will come out of the pocket more quickly. The communication between the quarterback and his receivers — the pivot to considerable success and ample failure in the old offense — is being dismantled and remade.
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