Giants tight end Evan Engram is a little extra optimistic about the coming season.
And why shouldn’t he be? Engram, entering his fifth NFL season, is coming off his first off-season in which he didn’t have to devote part of his training to rehabbing from an injury that cost him valuable playing time the year prior.
That factor alone has Engram encouraged by the work he put in over the off-season on every aspect of his game, from route running to blocking to eliminating those ill-timed drop passes—eight of them last year which tied for the league lead among tight ends with George Kittle of the 49ers.
“I just took advantage of a fully healthy offseason. Didn’t have any setbacks, no recovery stuff, no lingering injuries, so I took a little bit of time off and I took advantage of having a fully healthy offseason and got to work,” Engram said last week.
“Same mindset always in the offseason, getting better, attacking things I can improve on, but just taking advantage of a fully healthy offseason.”
With a big year on tap for the entire team and especially the offense, the Giants sure would welcome their 2017 first-round pick stepping up and finally becoming the player his athleticism and skill set suggest he is capable of becoming.
Thus far, however, what the Giants have gotten out of the former Ole Miss product is an injury prone player who despite his likeable personality, admirable work ethic and surprising Pro Bowl berth last season, has failed to live up to his draft pedigree.
Some of that, though, hasn’t necessarily been Engram’s doing. Last season, he was sometimes asked to block defensive ends that outweighed him or run short Y-stick option routes that didn’t necessarily a strength of his game as, say for example, routes up the seam.
But it’s all been a part of a learning process for both Engram and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who last year was trying to learn on the fly what each player on the roster could and couldn’t do as quickly as Engram was trying to learn the offense.
“I think there’s always external pressure and external expectations,” head coach Joe Judge said of Engram.
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“We have to keep our focus very narrow and keep it in the present. We can’t do anything about six months from now. We have to go day-by-day, so the expectation is to come to work every day, do your job the best you can, be detailed in how you work and put yourself in a good position.”
Engram has done just that, taking advantage of his good health this off-season to fine-tune his game.
“I’m in this building 24 hours every day. Every day, I have a job to do, every day I have something to attack, something to get better at,” he said.
“I’m not worried about yesterday, I’m not worried about last year, I’m focused on going ahead. I’m definitely not listening to all that stuff. All the opinions I care about are in this building and my family, and I’m working really hard each and every day to attack each day and attack the 24 hours I have.”
It also should help Engram—and Garrett for that matter—that they’re entering Year 2 of the same system.
“Definitely,” Engram agreed. “Second year in, it’s always going to be smoother, and you can get a little bit more in the details. Having the big picture stuff down, I’m able to work on the small things each and every day.”
And that effort Engram has given has undoubtedly earned him brownie points with his head coach.
“I’ve always noticed from day one, is this guy comes to work and does everything that’s asked of him. He does it with a positive attitude,” Judge said.
“He’s a guy we have a lot of expectations for internally. ... He’s a guy that comes out every day and just improves a little bit every day. Right now, that’s all we’re asking from all of our players.”
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