EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The New York Giants have had a habit of turning low-round draft picks and free agents into productive tight ends.
Kevin Boss progressed from a fifth-round draft pick in 2007 to a starter. Free agent Jake Ballard was a starter until a knee injury short-circuited his career.
Now there is Larry Donnell, the former free agent and practice squad player. In a season where few felt the Giants (0-2) had a legitimate tight end in training camp, the Grambling State product has opened some eyes.
Heading into Sunday's game against the Houston Texans (2-0), Donnell leads the Giants with 12 catches for 137 yards and a touchdown. The yardage total is tied for 28th in the NFL and 16th in the NFC.
Donnell had career statistics of three catches for 31 yards, all coming in 16 games last season.
''He has done a good job getting open,'' said quarterback Eli Manning, who has completed 44 passes, or 27.2 percent to Donnell.
''We have called some things where he is the No. 1 read and he is getting open. We have called some things where he wasn't the No. 1 read and we went through some progressions and he was open. He's made some nice catches.''
While happy to be contributing, Donnell wants more.
''At the same time a victory would be even better,'' Donnell said. ''Those are the stats to hang your hat on. At the end do the day, not winning takes away from the stats.''
''...He's been around here for a while, he's paid a price and he's worked hard,'' coach Tom Coughlin said. ''I'm glad to see a young man that has gone through the practice squad and so on and so forth, who is talented, who we knew was talented. I'm glad to see him have a little success here early on and I hope it continues.''
Donnell said his approach to playing is to be where Manning needs him to be. If he gets there, he believes the ball will come his way.
''We knew everyone was questioning us during camp and we just stayed together and stayed positive,'' Donnell said of the tight end group that includes Daniel Fells and Adrien Robinson, ''We knew we could do it. Now we are taking advantage of the opportunities.''
Manning has thrown three touchdowns this season. Donnell has one and so does Fells, who caught his last weekend.
''Our offense is limitless,'' Fells said. ''We have not shown what our offense can do. Last week we tapped into a little bit of it, but made some mistakes and those mistakes we need to get corrected. I think this offense can be friendly for the tight ends. I think it can be friendly for the receivers and friendly for the backs. We have little bit of everything in our offense.''
Right now it's also a lot of Larry Donnell.
NOTES: Jon Beason (foot-ankle) and fellow LB Devon Kennard (hamstring) will not play Sunday along with WR Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring). P Steve Weatherford (ankle), OT James Brewer and OT Charles Brown (shoulder) are questionable. Beason was seen by foot specialist Robert Anderson in North Carolina on Friday. Coughlin said the middle linebacker probably will have discomfort the rest of the season. ... G Eric Herman was waived Friday. He returned to the team Wednesday after serving a two-week suspension for violating the league's policy on performance enhancing substances. The suspension was originally four weeks, but Herman was reinstated early under the league's new PED policy. He was on a two-day roster exemption.
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