New York Giants OTA No. 5 Report: O-Line, An Emerging Sleeper, and More

Let's recap the doings at the New York Giants fifth OTA.
New York Giants helmets
New York Giants helmets / Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
In this story:

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ: One of the most important off-season additions made by the New York Giants is not on offense, defense, or special teams.

It is, instead, on the coaching staff, where head coach Brian Daboll decided after last season to terminate offensive line coach Bobby Johnson, whose injury-plagued unit ranked 30th according to Pro Football Focus’s pass-blocking efficiency with Carmen Bricillo, who spent two seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders and before that with legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia in New England.

Bricillo, 47, is being tasked with molding together a relatively brand-new offensive line whose only established starter is left tackle Andrew Thomas.

He will also have second-year center John Michael Schmitz and right tackle Evan Neal but will have two new guards to choose from among a group of veterans that includes Jermaine Eluemunor, Aaron Stinnie, Jon Runyan Jr., and Austin Schlottman.

One of Bricillo's biggest challenges figures to be working with Evan Neal, the third-year player who has struggled in both his technique and with injuries.

Bricillo, in his evaluation of Neal, was pragmatic, recalling some advice he received from former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel.

“One of the things he always said was don't judge a player when they’re young and don't judge a player when they're injured,” Bricillo said. “That's something that I think you take into the forefront.”

But that doesn’t mean that Neal, as well as the other offensive linemen, couldn’t use a little polish on their technique.

“There's a myriad of things that we're trying to work on as a group, but then as an individual, say, ‘Hey, maybe change how we set with our hands or maybe be a little more square,’” Bricillo said.

“I was talking to (Andrew Thomas) yesterday about doing some different things. So, there'll be some stuff within the framework of perhaps how we're changing a technique or scheme related. We're always looking, analyzing this, or trying to do that, but as an individual, you look at some individual techniques, and you try to change it.”

Bricillo stressed the importance of versatility when it comes to offensive linemen, including Neal, who, while he will work at right tackle to start this summer, he’ll also get snaps at other positions.

“I definitely give players a multitude of looks,” Bricillo said. “Yes, he's gonna be at the right tackle, and we're gonna go ahead and work with that. But I mean, for players in general, I want versatility. I mean, that's the nature of the position. You only have eight active on gameday. You need to be able to play multiple positions.

“Versatility is important. We’re gonna concentrate on right tackle, and we'll go from there.”

Another goal of Bricillo’s is to know who his starting five are by the time the preseason games conclude, though he also stressed that he’s not going to rush the process just to settle.

“I’d like to think by the time you come out of your last preseason game, you pretty much know where you’re starting five are going to be,” he said.

“But I'd say before that continuity is very important. One, there's no question at the same time: injuries occur, and you're going to be playing next to somebody on a week-to-week basis, so you need to do that. I don't fret this time of year.

“I'd say for me, as we get later in the training camp, if we're not really set, you might see me a little worried, but until then, I'm not fretting at all.”

Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll at the NY Giants NFL team held an organized team activity at their training facility in East Rutherford, NJ on Thursday May 30, 2024.
Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll at the NY Giants NFL team held an organized team activity at their training facility in East Rutherford, NJ on Thursday May 30, 2024. / Tariq Zehawi/ / USA TODAY

Daboll Takes the Reins

Head coach Brian Daboll confirmed that he’s been calling the plays, as speculation continues to ramp up about him taking on the play calling duties this season.

“I've called plays for a long time,” he said when asked what goes into the decision process about who ends up the play caller. “So, it's good to get out here at practice and do it, but there's a whole process that goes through with it. There's training camp. There's OTAs. And I'll make the decision, like I said back in March, that I feel is best.”

Although Daboll isn’t willing to confirm the obvious until after training camp, he’s not worried about any disruption to continuity if he does indeed take on the play-calling.

“Yeah, just working through practice here. We'll go through the whole process, go through training camp, go through the different situations,” he said. “There's a lot that goes into it. So, we'll just take it practice by practice.”

Daboll Explains Change in OTA Structure

Last year, during the OTA period, the Giants went a little light on practice in that they didn’t run any 11-on-11s.

That raised a few eyebrows considering how the Giants went into training camp, the practices appearing at times to be watered down, a process that ultimately affected the team’s readiness for the start of the regular season.

But as it turns out, there’s a good reason for that, according to Daboll.

“Last year was a little bit of a numbers thing,” Daboll said. “We were down on defensive linemen, so it was tough to get out there and give them that many reps.

“I think it's important to try to be able to do that, as long as you practice the right way. I think it's really good for the quarterback, and I think we missed on some of that last year. So that was something just going back and re-evaluating some of the things I wanted to try to get done if we had the right numbers and we practiced the right way, being a non-contact camp.”

I think it's good, even though it's not fully live, for the quarterback to be able to move in the pocket and feel a little bit of the rush. I think that's helpful, and it's good for the offensive and defensive linemen to work on some of their hand techniques. We don't bull rush or run a bunch of games and things like that just because of the nature of the camp, but I do think it's helpful for the quarterback.

No Update on Waller

With receiver Darius Slayton resolving his contract situation earlier this week, the only player under contract who hasn’t appeared at the OTAs is tight end Darren Waller, who continues to contemplate retiring.

With the mandatory minicamp coming up in a couple of weeks, one would think that a decision is not too far off and that, at this point, Waller is indeed leaning toward calling it a career, though the Giants continue to give him the space he needs to sort through things.


Andrew Thomas, who sat out the 11-on-11 part of practice last week (a practice open to the media), was back at his usual left tackle spot. It’s hard to tell who won the reps between him and the pass rush, given there are no pads and no contact, but the takeaway here is that there is nothing wrong with Thoams physically from last year’s hamstring odyssey to worry about.

The first-team offensive line for 11-on-11s was left tackle Andrew Thomas, left guard Jermaine Eluemunor, center John Michael Schmitz, right guard Jon Runyan Jr, and right tackle Josh Ezeudu.

Bricillo was asked about Runyan playing right guard despite having expressed a preference in the past for playing on the left side.

“I think for me, you know, just working with Jermaine, seeing that, you know, he's played more tackle in his time in the NFL, so keeping him concentrating in team settings at the guard scenario has been best,” Bricillo said.

“And Jon just played more on the right side last year. I know he feels comfortable on both. He's expressed different things, but I think as our needs fit right now, I think we just wanna get comfortable with that regard there.”

When the Giants line up to have guys field punts, often they have a guy or two catch the ball who isn’t a consideration for the punt return role, such as last year with receiver Sterling Shepard. Of interest, though, is that this year, Eric Gray, the punt returner for part of last year, wasn’t even allowed near that group, a definite sign that the experiment with him as a punt returner is over.

Speaking of punt returners, Gunner Olszewski slipped on the slick grass early in the practice and appeared to injure his left leg. Hard to say if it was an ankle or a knee, but Olszewski threw his gloves down in disgust.

A guy to watch this summer who I thought had a good practice on both special teams (as a punt returner) and on offense is receiver Ayir Asante. Asante looked smooth fielding punts and was decisive in returning them.

He also did a nice job of working himself to get open on offense, doing a nice job of looking the ball into his hands and then breaking up field. I don’t know if there will be a roster spot for him, but the practice squad could be in his future.

Slot cornerback Darnay Holmes produced a pick on a poorly thrown ball by Nathan Rourke. A lot of people have asked about Rourke, and in this practice, he didn’t impress, his throws being somewhat erratic.

DJ Davidson got some first-team reps on the defensive line. … Kayvon Thibodeaux had, by my count, two sacks and a handful of pressures coming off the edge. … Drew Lock took all the first-team drills in 11-on-11. I thought he looked much better this week than at last week’s practice open to the media.

Working against air, Daniel Jones connected twice with Wan’Dale Robinson on two perfectly placed balls. Daboll said that no decision has been made regarding Jones being cleared to do full 11-on-11’s.

“We've talked about it,” he said. “I'd say he's getting closer and closer. He's only 6 1/2 months out, so he's kind of right on schedule in terms of his rehab plan where we have him. We're not at that point yet.”

Daboll didn’t say how far away they were from reaching that point.

“I'd say we have a plan, and we're following that plan. He's making progress. When we feel that's the next step, then he'll be out there doing it.”

Cornerback Stantley Thomas-Oliver III broke up a pass by Tommy DeVito intended for Asante. DeVito looks far more confident in this, his second year.

“He's in the second year of the terminology,” Daboll said of DeVito. “Being able to get in the huddle, hear the call, spit it out, know what to see. It's been helpful for him. He's had a good camp.”

If the Giants roll with Drew Lock and DeVito in the preseason games, as anticipated, it might be hard for them to try to slip DeVito to the practice squad.

Another new yet subtle change is that the offensive linemen are hustling to the line of scrimmage rather than just taking a Sunday stroll. I don’t recall them moving as quickly as I saw these last two practices. It’s a good change, though, as the sooner they get set, the more time the quarterback has to analyze things.

Rookie tight end Theo Johnson caught a pass from Drew Lock, but Johnson dipped his head down as a defender approached. The concern is that if he does that regularly, he will get whacked in the head, so hopefully, that’s not a bad habit he’s developed.

Former NFL receiving great Steve Smith was at practice today—not the first time he’s gotten on the field and probably not the last. Smith was very active in coaching up the Giants’ younger receivers, particularly Malik Nabers and Jalin Hyatt, showing them, among other techniques, how to beat a jam at the line of scrimmage.

“We have a good relationship with him, (general manager) Joe (Schoen) and I. I think he's a good sounding board for some of the young guys, particularly the young receivers.

So, he'll be here for a couple of days. I have a lot of respect for his game, how he's played. We had him last year too.

“We have some young receivers. He's played a long time and been very successful. We have a good relationship with him. So happy to have him.”

Published |Modified
Patricia Traina


Patricia Traina has covered the New York Giants for over three decades for various media outlets. She is the host of the Locked On Giants podcast and the author of "The Big 50: New York Giants: The Men and Moments that Made the New York Giants" (Triumph Books, September 2020). View Patricia's full bio.