Giants tight end Evan Engram claimed that his focus is squarely on getting better every day and playing for his teammates rather than the growing ire against him by a frustrated Giants fan base rightfully upset by both the team’s losing and the tight end’s inconsistent play.
But he’s also not oblivious to the fans' frustration, and for him to claim to be oblivious to the boos when he fumbled a ball and then the Bronx cheer when he came off the field shortly thereafter wouldn’t be an accurate statement.
“I think I handled it pretty well,” he said, directly acknowledging that he was aware of the crowd’s reaction.
“I was able to stay focused and stay locked in on my job on the field. It definitely was an opportunity to be a distraction, but I didn’t let that get to me and I just stayed focused on my task at hand and playing the game and finishing the game.”
Engram has been one of the most frustrating players to come through the Giants’ doors in the last several years. Blessed with decent size (6’3”, 240 pounds) and a skill set that should by right have linebackers and defensive backs quaking in their cleats, his career production hasn’t quite lived up to his 2017 first-round draft pedigree.
He currently has 218 receptions on 362 pass targets for 2,441 yards and 13 touchdowns, his best career season coming as a rookie in 2017 when in 15 games, he caught a career-high 64 balls out of 115 pass targets for 722 yards and six touchdowns.
But he also has 25 career drops, a statistic in which he has twice led the league among tight ends, the first time in 2017, his rookie campaign with 11, and more recently last year when he shared the league lead (8) with George Kittle of the 49ers and has a career contested catch rate of 31.6 percent, his 19 percent contested catch rate last season putting him last among 14 tight ends with a minimum of 70 pass targets.
Add to that an unfortunate injury history that has seen him play a total of 51 games out of 66 over his career thus far, and it’s not hard to see why the frustration has reached a boiling point.
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Engram insists that the outside noise hasn’t bothered him in the least.
“I’ve been playing football for a long time. I’ve played in front of a lot of fans for a good amount of time. We’re trained to stay focused in between the lines.
“That’s part of being an athlete. You have to move past the bad things. You have to learn from them and keep doing whatever you can to limit those.”
Engram, who claimed he never booed as a spectator at a sporting event, said he understands the fans’ frustrations not just with him but with the entire team. “The fans deserve to see good football; they deserve to see winning football. They’re honest fans, they’re passionate fans, and they deserve to see a good product on the field.”
That said, Engram sounded determined to improve his game to where maybe down the line the jeers will turn to cheers.
“I’m more focused on playing for my team and my teammates. Obviously, it’s not ideal, and it’s something you don’t want to see or hear.
“But that’s my focus: Playing better football for my teammates and my team and giving the fans and giving our supporters something to cheer about and something to be proud about on the field. “
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