SPOTLIGHT: TIGHT ENDS - GIANTS
"With training camp at the end of the month, spotlight focuses the tight end
position -- sure to be one of the most watched competitions in training
SPOTLIGHT: The tight ends
THE COMPETITION: Bear Pascoe, Martellus Bennett, Travis Beckum,
Adrien Robinson, Christian Hopkins, Ryan Purvis and Larry
THE 411: Last year, the Giants
replaced Kevin Boss with Jake Ballard. This
year, the Giants hope to find another big target over the middle for Eli
Pascoe has the most experience of all the
healthy tight ends. Beckum is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in the
Super Bowl and might not be ready to play when the season starts.
Bennett is the guy the team hopes will step into the role after signing
him in free agency. But Bennett has to adjust to a new offense and show he can
handle a bigger role and fulfill his potential. Bennett missed some time in OTAs
due to a hamstring issue as the coaching staff wanted to see the tight end shed
The Giants drafted Robinson in the fourth round, but he is
raw and missed OTAs to finish up in school. He may be at least a year away from
contributing, but if he is really the "JPP of tight ends" -- as Jerry
Reese described him -- he'll show flashes and get better as the season
The Giants like Hopkins, who has been on the practice squad.
He has shown flashes of good hands and is a big body at 6-5, 277 pounds.
WHAT THE COACHES ARE SAYING: "Except for Bear, there is
nobody that has done it before," offensive coordinator Kevin
Gilbride said. "You are hoping to have Bear as a swing guy, a second
tight end -- he could motion back and play the fullback position, give you what
he has always given. you which is unbelievable toughness and somehow making
plays that maybe you don't think that he should be able to make.
always seems to make [those plays] for you -- not necessarily as your starting
tight end," Gilbride continued. "But right now he is the starting tight end.
Martellus was out and just barely got back. Adrien Robinson missed [OTAs]. So
right now we have a long way to go at that spot."
acknowledged that he thought Ballard could be a good blocker and perhaps an
underneath target in the passing game before Ballard exceeded his expectations
and became a bigger threat.
"You are hoping Martellus [steps up]. ...
That is why he was brought here," Gilbride said. "You are hoping that Adrien
Robinson down the road would be the guy. If not, Bear is going to be the guy.
"We have been able to do it in the past. We have to do it again.”
CAMP PREDICTION: Pascoe enters camp as the starter and
may be used more in the passing game out of necessity if Bennett isn't able to
get comfortable in the new system by the time the season opener rolls around.
Pascoe displayed an ability to catch balls down the middle in OTAs and
minicamp, and the Giants could lean on him early on until Bennett works his way
in and earns Manning's trust. Robinson might need this year to develop before
becoming a factor.
Beckum's impact all depends on his health and when he
will be able to come back. Also, it remains to be seen how much the Giants use
Beckum. When he was healthy last season, he wasn't utilized a ton as they leaned
more on Ballard and Pascoe with blocking in mind as well. The Giants might also
bring Beckum along slowly off his knee injury –- as they should with an ACL
injury suffered in February -- so he might not start contributing until a few
weeks into the season, if not later.
Hopkins could be a dark horse since
tight ends coach Mike Pope has been able to develop guys like
Boss, Ballard and Pascoe. And because of that, you can't discount Purvis or
Donnell either, but they could potentially end up on the practice squad.
While Pascoe may be the guy Manning trusts in the passing game early on,
the Giants also can use fullback Henry Hynoski as a
short-yardage passing option if Bennett needs more time to get comfortable with
Hynoski showed the ability to catch out of the backfield
late last season. I think Manning will look to Pascoe early until he develops a
rapport with Bennett or another tight end, and that gives Pascoe a step up on
the competition and the opportunity to seize the job."