New York Giants looking to mix and match with tight ends
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Looking around the New York Giants' tight ends room, Kevin Gilbride Jr. knows this is the best group of players he has been given to coach.
Larry Donnell has looked good after overcoming a neck injury that sidelined him the second half of last season. Will Tye appears ready to take the next step after being the biggest surprise of the offense in 2014.
Matt LaCosse and Ryan Malleck have shown flashes, and sixth-round draft pick Jerrell Adams has shown he can block but he is still learning.
Add in H-back Will Johnson, and Gilbride is a busy guy.
His group doesn't include a ''Gronk,'' but he has guys who can make plays, which should help Eli Manning and the offense this season.
''What we like to do, what we try to do is, and I'm talking about when we're in season, is we like to get the guys who are the best at that particular job,'' Gilbride said Friday after practice. ''Whether that be an in-line blocker, a lead blocker from the backfield, split out as the No.1 receiver, whatever the case may be. What we try to do is put that person in the position that we like them in.''
Donnell probably is the best and most well known in the group, having caught three touchdown passes against Washington in a 2014 night game.
However, his status coming into the season was uncertain because of the neck injury that limited him to eight games last season.
A week into training camp, Donnell has looked good. Other than a couple of bobbles, he has made big plays down the middle.
''It's a blessing just to be back here playing football, being able to put on that jersey and helmet again, and run around and do what I do,'' Donnell said.
He said working to get back on the field wasn't tough. It was a lot tougher watching his teammates play last season.
''You always have to prove yourself in that league and that's what I want to get back to doing.''
Gilbride wants Donnell to play stronger. That's block better and hold on to the ball once he makes catches. He has fumbled struggling to gain an extra yard.
Tye made the roster as a free agent out of little Stony Brook on Long Island and had 42 catches for 464 yards and three touchdowns in 13 games, including seven starts.
''He's certainly explosive with the football in his hands,'' Gilbride said. ''Then he is stout at the point of attack in the run game.''
What Tye needs to do is lower his pad level so he can get under opponents and move them, Gilbride said.
Tye isn't taking anything for granted in this camp. He has a little more confidence than last season, but the butterflies are there.
''Being undrafted, you always have to prove yourself,'' he said. ''Last year I might have played in one or two preseason games. I can't wait for the preseason because I am going to play.
LaCosse, who had three catches in two games last season, was getting a lot of work in camp until hurting his right knee this week. He seemingly is close to returning.
''He brings a knowledge of the position, number one, and he's a big target,'' Gilbride said, adding that the second-year player does everything well but he is not the best at all the tight end jobs.
Malleck had some nice catches in the minicamp after signing as a free agent, while Adams needs to learn the playbook and adjust to playing against bigger and faster players.
''It's a business, you are not on a scholarship anymore,'' Adams said.
As an H-back, Johnson can line up in the backfield and be a lead blocker, a pass protector or a receiver.
NOTES: Friday's practice was basically a walk-through. Coach Ben McAdoo plans a fast, physical workout before giving the team off on Sunday. ... The coach is not certain that WR Odell Beckham Jr. will practice Saturday. He was cleated in the lower leg earlier this week and has not practiced at full speed since the injury. ... Cornerback Leon Hall, who was signed on Thursdsay, worked in the slot on Friday.
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