New York Giants head coach Joe Judge finally was able to get his eyes on the team’s crop of rookies—six draft picks and three undrafted free agents—during the team’s recently completed rookie minicamp.
The experience, which Judge didn’t have last year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, was something of an eye-opener for Judge, who enjoyed having the chance to meet the players in person a lot sooner than he did last year.
“It’s funny,” he said after the team wrapped up the second of two days of practice at the camp.
“There’s a lot of guys you meet for the first time in person. You turn around—me and (defensive coordinator) Pat (Graham) are walking off the field, ‘Yeah, that guy is bigger than we thought he was going to be. That guy has thicker legs than we thought they were going to be.’ The first time seeing a guy in practice is bizarre because even our meetings are virtual.”
Judge and his assistant coaches ran a two-day orientation program that consisted of two one-hour practices held for the 22 players in attendance.
But Judge, who said he planned things that way so the players could become accustomed to how things run, now faces a bit of uncertainty as to when he might next be able to get the players back on the field.
The Giants are scheduled to begin Phase 3 of the off-season program—the OTA phase—on May 24. However, they are unsure as to what the player attendance might look like at those sessions, which by the way, are sandwiched around a three-day mandatory minicamp scheduled for June 8-10.
The NFLPA, citing the ongoing OVID-19 pandemic, has urged its members to exercise its right to skip the OTAs, which are voluntary.
Yet interestingly, some players have been taking part in loosely organized group workouts away from club facilities, such as what quarterback Daniel Jones organized for teammates last month in Arizona.
While such initiatives are admirable, they also come with risk. A player who suffers an injury working out while not under the club’s supervision is subject to be designated as a non-football injury.
Judge, who last year unwillingly became a master of scheduling on the fly given all the uncertainty the pandemic wreaked on the NFL’s off-season schedule, isn’t worried about who may or may not show up for the OTAs.
“Obviously it’s a voluntary period so we are going to work with every player we can whether it’s virtual or in-person,” he said Saturday.
“So obviously whoever is here we’ll coach in person, whoever is virtual for the meetings we’ll work with them virtually. Some guys will be doing both.’’
In the meantime, the Giants will continue working to incorporate their rookie players into the fold.
“In terms of rookies, we are just trying to get them caught up enough and physically in good enough shape that when they come back tore training camp, they can compete with the vets,” Judge said. “That’s the biggest goal right now, give them a further understanding of not just the X’s and O’s but everything associated with the league.
“We have a player development team that will meet with these guys multiple times every day. We will spend a lot of times meeting with the strength and conditioning staff not as far as just lifting weights but understanding how to best manage their bodies, recovery, sleep, nutrition, everything that’s going to help them be a better pro.”