Time flies when you're having fun building a football team, and the New York Giants, who began Phase 3 of their off-season program on Monday, are just rolling right along.
Although the first OTA was only open to the team's in-house media--the external media will have access on Thursday--the Giants put out a practice report and some notes about the highlights of the day, which we found particularly interesting.
5 Takeaways from Giants OTA #1
Rookie Tight End Daniel Bellinger Shines
In our rookie minicamp report, we noted that tight end Daniel Bellinger, the Giants' fourth-round draft pick, looked impressive as a receiver.
According to the Giants' in-house media's report, Bellinger picked up where he left off. Bellinger has just three career drops in 103 pass targets (4.3 percent), and last season, he had zero drops.
His zero percent drop rate ties him with nine other draft-eligible tight ends in the class; however, of those players, what makes Bellinger's zero drops so impressive is that he had the most pass targets (43) thrown his way of the group.
Bellinger has a good chance of working his way into the regular rotation at tight end. His blocking at San Diego State was more than acceptable. Per Pro Football Focus, he allowed just six pressures in 114 pass-block snaps and finished last season with his highest run-blocking grade (63.6).
Giants Focus on Deep Red-Zone Work
Coaching staffs generally don't like to look back on things that happened before they arrived, but it's pretty hard for head coach Brian Daboll and his staff to ignore the fact that the Giants' red-zone conversion rate was ranked dead last (44.74 percent) in the league.
Not surprisingly, the Giants spent part of the practice working on deep-red zone drills inside the 10-yard line, where last year's results were even worse. The Giants scored on just eight of 48 red zone drives with ten or fewer yards to go, a dismal 16.67 percent.
Robert Foster Quietly Begins a Push for a Roster Spot
When the team announced the signing of 6-foot-2 receiver Robert Foster before the start of free agency, many people didn't give the move a second thought.
But there might be more to Foster's game than what meets the eye. The Giants, in their practice notes, complimented Foster for a leaping catch he made.
That got us curious about how well he fared on contested catches, some of which require the receiver to leap, and how well the Giants receivers did on contested catches last season.
At Alabama, Foster didn't get many passes thrown his way--just 53 targets, of which he caught 35. But of his handful (six) of contested catch opportunities, Foster came down with three of those for a 60 percent success rate.
Meanwhile, last year, the Giants' wide receivers finished with a 51.2 percent contested catch rate (40 of 78, according to Pro Football Focus). Sterling Shepard, who is recovering from a late-season Achilles injury, led the wide receivers in snagging contested catches, hauling in 72.7 percent of those balls.
And Kenny Golladay, the big-time free agent signing who came to the Giants with a reputation as a force in making contested catches, finished 15 of 31 (48.4 percent) in that category.
Defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence hasn't quite blossomed into the pass rusher the Giants' previous regime likely envisioned him becoming. Still, Lawrence, a solid run-stopper, does something particularly well in games that he showed in the first OTA.
If he's stonewalled, Lawrence will get his hands into the passing lanes in an attempt to bat down passes. The fourth-year defender has five career batdowns, including two apiece in the last two seasons. (Lawrence also tied with fellow defensive lineman Leonard Williams for most batted passes last season.)
While sacks are the ultimate goal, having the defensive front get their hands into the passing lane sounds like it will be a point of emphasis this spring and summer, and with good reason. Last year, the Giants' defensive linemen only knocked down five pass attempts in 611 pass attempts against them.
Shane Lemieux Practices
Guard Shane Lemieux, who was the starter at left guard last year before suffering what ended up as a season-ending knee injury, participated in the practice session, per the Giants' in-house media report.
That's good news as the Giants seem set everywhere on the offensive line except at left guard. At that spot, there is expected to be a competition between veterans Max Garcia and Jamil Douglas and Lemieux, the former Oregon Duck and a fifth-round draft pick from 2019 who will fight to regain his starting job.
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