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Why the Split Squad Format is the Right Move

The Giants are the first NFL team known to be opting for the split-squad format to start training camp. What does that mean and more importantly, why is that the right decision for the team?

Giants head coach Joe Judge has opted to begin his first training camp as a head coach with a split-squad, a new arrangement put in place by the NFL and FLPA in which one group will consist of rookies, first-year players, and any quarterbacks and injured players assigned to that group. In contrast, the other group will consist of all veteran players who report on July 28.

The groups must work out separately, and they cannot interchange, meaning once a quarterback, for example, is assigned to one group, he can’t go back and forth.

The Giants’ roster count stands at 87 players following the official waiving of kicker Aldrick Rosas and the waiting/injured of DB Malcolm Elmore. 

The Giants also have roster exemptions for cornerback DeAndre Baker and running back Sandro Platzgummer, both of whom don’t’ count against the roster total. (Their entire 10-man draft class, who signed their respective rookie deals today, were already counted as part of the roster total.)

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Assuming the Giants sign edge Markus Golden and kicker Chandler Catanzaro on Tuesday, that number will jump back up to 89. The Giants would have until August 16 to trim down to the league-mandated 80-man limit.

The decision by Judge to go with a split-squad makes sense, given the circumstances. First, it allows the first-time head coach to recreate a condensed version of the lost off-season in which the rookies and first-year players would have had a minicamp anyway not long after the draft.

In addition to learning the playbook, which those newer players did during the virtual off-season program, they also would have been fitted for their equipment and had a chance to become acclimated to how the coaches want things done regarding practice schedules and meetings.

Another benefit of the smaller groups is that it puts fewer players at risk should someone end up testing positive for COVID-19. But perhaps the most significant benefit for Judge is that it allows him to finally get in front of each of his players and spend some time getting to know them before the teams transition from the initial strength and conditioning phase of the preseason (which, during a typical off-season is done in smaller groups anyway) to the actual practices.

At any time, the Giants can trim the roster down to the league-mandated 80 men before the August 16 deadline, which would allow for the merging of the two squads. Since the strength and conditioning and physical acclimation period is scheduled to run from August 3-11, Judge’s decision to have a split-squad shows a head coach who is trying to be fair in doing due diligence as far as getting to know his players and giving them as fair of a chance as possible.