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7 New York Giants Mandatory Minicamp Storylines to Follow

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The New York Giants 2024 spring football stretch comes to a close this week with a two-day mandatory minicamp held at the team’s East Rutherford headquarters.

The non-contact, padless practices, much like the 10 OTAs before them, are a chance for the coaching staff to gauge how far the players have come both individually and as a unit. 

Jobs will not necessarily be won or lost after these two practices wrap, but they should provide the coaching staff with a good idea of how practice reps will be distributed once the team returns from its six-week break on July 24 for the start of training camp. 

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some interesting storylines to follow these next two days. Here are some stories we’ll be watching.  

Daniel Jones has been relentless in attacking his off-season rehab from a torn ACL, determined to be ready for the start of training camp. But at the same time, Jones has had to exercise patience in how hard he goes so as not to overdo what the trainers have laid out for him in each stage of his rehab.

“I think I’m in a good spot,” Jones said after the team’s third OTA last month. “Obviously, the goal is to be ready to go by the first day of training camp.”

When Jones, who has been limited to individuals, seven-on-sevens, and working on air, has taken snaps, he’s moved around like a man who, if you didn’t know was coming off an ACL, was moving well. 

But as much as Jones wants to be cleared as quickly as possible, he also knows he has to be smart.  

“I’m going to push to be ready as soon as possible,” he said. “I think we’ve got a good plan. I have a lot of trust and faith in our trainers and coaches.”

It would be surprising if Jones is permitted to do any 11-on-11 work this week as there is still a concern that despite there being no contact, someone could fall and roll up on his healing leg. 

But if the trainers feel good about where Jones is in his rehab, giving him a few snaps in the 11-on-11 series would undoubtedly be a big step forward in the determined quarterback’s rehab.  

Again, there is no contact allowed in these practices, but in the interest of iron sharpening iron, will more than likely get a few more looks at cornerback Deonte Banks, projected as the Giants’ No. 1 cornerback, against receiver Malik Nabers, the team’s first-round draft pick projected to be the No. 1 receiver.  

We won’t necessarily see Banks get physical with Nabers, which would give the receiver an advantage. But what we can look to see is if Banks can keep up with the speedster and at least be able to stick a hand in there to break up passes, similar to what he’ll need to do this coming season.

Banks told reporters last week he’d welcome the chance to pair up against the opponent’s top receiver.

“Yes, for sure,” when Banks was asked if being assigned the opponent’s top receiver was a compliment. “If it happens, it happens. I’m cool with whatever.”

Normally, we’d hold off on mentioning anything related to the offensive line since this unit cannot be truly evaluated until the pads go on and contact is permitted. But we’ll make an exception in this case because of a development that occurred in OTA No. 9.

That development saw projected right tackle Evan Neal, who, despite recovering from ankle surgery was able to do some individual drills in the first two OTAs open to the media, be completely held out of OTA No. 9 to where he didn’t even warm up with his teammates. 

It is unclear whether that means Neal had a setback, the team was simply managing his workload, or he took a step back in trying to ensure he gets the first-team reps this summer.  

 Whatever the case, it was an interesting development and one that, if Neal continues to be sidelined, could become concerning, given how projected swing tackle Matt Nelson has also been limited this spring with an undisclosed issue.

The Giants coaches have been consistent in their backing of Cor’Dale Flott as their other starting cornerback opposite of Deonte Banks, but it’s fair to wonder if that’s them just rolling with what they feel is the best option on the roster  or the best option period.

New York Giants defensive back Cordale Flott

New York Giants defensive back Cordale Flott / John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Three times this off-season the Giants reportedly sought to add a veteran cornerback to the mix, starting with former Jaguars cornerback Darious Williams, former Bills cornerback Tre’Davious White, and former Texans cornerback Stephen Nelson, who announced his retirement.

That’s three veteran cornerbacks with a combined 23 years of experience, most of those as starters. And what that tells us is that the Giants have some reservations about the position, reservations that Flott and the rest of the young players at the position can either put an end to with a strong showing this week or continue to fan.

Things are subject to change, of course, but right now it looks as though Drew Lock will continue to run the offense in 11-on-11 drills.

It’s also believed that he will take a fair amount of snaps in preseason games, as it’s unlikely that Jones will be out at risk in those games (though if he’s close to being ready, he could get a smattering of snaps just to make sure he’s ready to hit the ground running for Week 1).

Regardless, Lock has been showing improvement in his comfort level running the Giants offense and making smart decisions. While his ball placement accuracy has at times been off, it hasn’t really hurt the offense (yet).  

And he’s drinking in all the reps he’s gotten to help get him ready in case Jones isn’t good to go.  

“It’s been huge,” he said earlier this month. “I know what it’s like to not get a ton of reps in OTAs and kind of feel your way through, not throw to the number one receivers. 

“So being able to just have those reps under your belt definitely builds confidence going into the year.”

Darren Waller announced his retirement over the weekend. The Giants, who clearly expected things might go that way, made sure to protect themselves by drafting Theo Johnson in the fourth round out of Penn State to pair with Daniel Bellinger. 

But what about the third tight end? And how will Bellinger and Johnson be deployed in this offense, as flex pieces or in-line? The Giants will have some sorting out to do at that position, and how the snaps are distributed could yield some early clues.

Head coach Brian Daboll hasn’t made it official yet, but all signs are pointing to him taking over the play-calling duties, a role that he appears to have kept for himself all spring.

Such a move would make sense on any number of levels. For one, with ramped-up pressure from the Giants offense to start producing, if Daboll is going to go down with the ship, he might as well be steering it. 

New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll

New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Second, one of the reasons he was hired was his creativity as a play caller, which helped him get the most out of his talent. So why not let him go back to his roots?

Third and perhaps just as important, with Daboll potentially having to concentrate on the next sequence of plays, perhaps that will help him limit the times he popped his cork on the sideline in anger, whether it was at a player or an assistant coach. 

Certainly that strife that the Giants had last year on the sideline wasn’t good for anyone, so letting Daboll go back to his rooks as a play caller could help improve the sideline functions.

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