Monday, December 9, 2013
By TOM CANAVAN The Associated Press
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - For the first time in three seasons, Eli Manning isn't searching for tight ends at training camp.
Eli Manning, right, explains the intricacies of the New York Giants’ offense to tight end Brandon Myers, a free-agent acquisition who starred with Oakland last season.
The Associated Press
The free-agent signing of Brandon Myers has given the New York Giants their first legitimate pass-catching tight end since Kevin Boss. The emergence of second-year pro Adrien Robinson seemingly has increased the number to two.
It wasn't that way when Boss left after the 2010 season to sign with Oakland. Manning had to discover and develop Jake Ballard in the 2011 Super Bowl season, and the Giants gambled well in signing Martellus Bennett from Dallas last season although he still needed work.
Myers is the real deal. He had 79 catches with Oakland last season and has been impressive in camp, ending a two-minute drill with a long touchdown catch.
Coming to the Giants has been an adjustment for Myers, who will make his debut Saturday in the preseason opener at Pittsburgh. This will be his fifth offensive scheme in five seasons. He played in a West Coast scheme last season with the Raiders and now is in a more standard pro set.
"There are some teaching points but he is starting to understand and comprehend everything," Manning said. "He is doing a good job of getting open, he is athletic, he runs good routes, he catches the ball well. Hopefully he can be a big part of this offense and get us a bunch of catches."
Myers is a lot faster and more nimble than either Ballard or Bennett, and he has shown an ability to run the big-play seam pattern down the field. If there is a question, it's his ability to block. He is not as big as either Ballard or Bennett and last year, he never played that role for Oakland.
Either way, tight ends coach Mike Pope said Myers didn't show up with the attitude that he's been in the NFL for years and knew everything. He was open to everything.
"He came in here with just the right attitude," Pope said, "and gets mad at himself when he doesn't execute things the way he knows they should be done."
His work with Manning also has been eye-opening. The two-time Super Bowl MVP meets with his receivers every week and goes over the ins and outs of patterns, critiquing practice plays.
"He's been there, he's proved it; you know if you're on the same page as him, he's going to find you," Myers said.
"That's what we've kind of been building, the same page, and hopefully when it's third down, or something like that, if you can do it in practice, he's going to trust you in the game."
Myers and Robinson aren't the only options at tight end. Bear Pascoe has played in 46 games the past three seasons, mostly as a blocker. However, his role this year is much different with fullback Henry Hynoski on the physically unable to perform list after undergoing knee surgery. Pascoe has been forced to play a lot more fullback and that's where he may start the season.
NOTES: DE Justin Tuck missed practice for the second straight day Thursday with a tight back. The defensive captain said it’s not serious and he’s played in worse pain. … OT Justin Pugh (concussion), OT James Brewer (concussion), S Cooper Taylor (hamstring) and RB Ryan Torain (concussion) did not practice, and are not expected to play Saturday. … Manning will start and get about 15 plays followed by David Carr. Coach Tom Coughlin would not say whether fourth-round draft pick Ryan Nassib or Curtis Painter would take over after that. … Nicks is a question mark due to limited practice time. … CB LeRon Scott intercepted Nassib late in practice, which was moved indoors by rain. … Former safety Deon Grant, who retired as a Giant on Wednesday, visited the team Thursday.