The New York Giants returned to work on Monday, brushing off not just a 1-6 start, but trade deadline rumors as well.
After a much-needed week off, the New York Giants got back to work on Monday morning, work that continued into the afternoon.
The team descended on Quest Diagnostics Training Center for an indoor practice session, their first step of preparation for Sunday afternoon’s showdown with the Los Angeles Rams at MetLife Stadium (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX). Following the session, head coach Ben McAdoo took to the podium, acknowledging that the Giants aren’t going to back down despite the team’s 1-6 record.
“We talked about flushing the first half of the season and coming back and starting with a fresh start,” McAdoo said. “We want to put the first half of the season behind us. We’re excited to move onto this game on Sunday.”
McAdoo addressed not just his team’s immediate future, but his own as well. Asked if he believes he is coaching for his job over these next nine games, McAdoo brushed personal concerns away.
“Each and every day in this business, you have to prove yourself and when I come in, I come to work. I’m blessed to be here. It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “I don’t think that [I’m coaching for my job]. I’m doing everything I can to help these players put a winning product on the field on Sunday.”
The head coach was speaking for the first time since senior vice president/general manager Jerry Reese made his annual bye-week statements last Tuesday. Reese offered McAdoo a vote of confidence, calling him “a hard worker” and “smart”, and McAdoo stated he is definitely on the same wavelength as Reese when it comes to the team.
“One hundred percent, we’re on the same page. We’re tied at the hip,” McAdoo said. “Jerry and I have multiple conversations every day. We have a great relationship – great working relationship. I have a lot of respect for Jerry and everything that he’s done in this profession.”
Another comment of Reese’s, however, was the talk of the locker room.
Last Tuesday, Reese, who assumed responsibility for the Giants’ dreadful start, expressed that the team may have bought into enlarged preseason expectations bestowed upon them by numerous experts. Encouraged by an 11-5 season and the team’s first playoff appearance since 2012, many had the Giants not only winning the NFC East, but possibly representing the conference in Super Bowl LII as well.
“I think we bought into the hype. We just didn’t go out and strain as hard as you have to strain to play in this league and you have to do it every Sunday. Every Sunday you have to do it and we just didn’t come out,” Reese said. “I don’t see any of the hunger coming out of the gate. I thought we played hard in some games, but there’s a difference between playing hard and having that hunger that you have to have to win in this league.”
Numerous players, however, rejected the idea that last season’s success and this past summer’s expectations played into the bad start.
“In this locker room, on the defensive side, we have a lot of real talks. What [defensive tackle Damon Harrison] did was call us out,” safety Landon Collins said. “One thing he told me was ‘you think I’m going to rely on what I did last year’? That’s one thing I took to heart. I’m not going to be a player that’s going to rely on what I did last year.”
“As far as what I know, I felt like everybody was hungry and ready to go,” wide receiver Sterling Shepard added. “Playing for the New York Giants, every team is going give you their best game. We just haven’t been able to close them out like we should’ve.”
McAdoo chose not to focus on the first half of the season, expressing only a desire to move on and make the most out of the final nine games.
“We need to flush the first half. We need to move onto the second half,” McAdoo explained. “It’s important for us to get better as a football team and the thing I asked of these guys is just take it one game at a time and one play at a time. Don’t hold onto what we did the first half, but let’s go out here and be the best team we can be in the second half of the season.”
The Giants now go on to face a Los Angeles Rams team in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt. For the third consecutive week, the Giants will face a team coming off their bye, as the Rams (5-2) played in London two weeks prior, crushing the Arizona Cardinals 33-0.
However, this week’s biggest drama may come not on the field, but on Tuesday. Halloween may be full of tension as is, but that doesn’t compare to the drama generated by the NFL trade deadline, set for 4 PM EST. Several Giants have been rumored to be on the block, most notably cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
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Rodgers-Cromartie, however, is not worried about any potential change in address.
“I don’t think about that. A trade isn’t on my mind,” said the cornerback. “I control what I can control. If I’m here, I’m here. If not, I can’t do anything about that, that’s not under my control. I’m not trying to go anywhere, though.”
“I wouldn’t go anywhere else. I would fight here no matter what the record is,” said Casillas, who has been on two Super Bowl-winning teams. “We started something here. I’ve been here for a couple years and we’re a team of warriors. I wouldn’t go out there and fight without my guys, without my warriors and battle without them. At the end of the day, sometimes you don’t have a choice when it comes down to it. But, I wouldn’t trade this locker room, these group of guys for anyone in the world.”
“I don’t put too much thought into it,” Vereen concurred. “I’m excited to be here, I’m ready to be here. It’s a business, I understand that. If it happens, it happens, but in my mindset, I’m here. I want to finish what I started here.”
In today’s practice, Shepard appeared to be a full participant. The second-year catcher has missed the past two games with an ankle injury suffered in the October 8 loss to Los Angeles’s other team, the Chargers.
“If [my younger teammates] have any questions, I’m there to answer them,” Shepard said. “On game day, I’m there to motivate them. It’s kind of the role I took [over the past three weeks].”
While Shepard returned to action, Vernon (ankle) and offensive lineman Justin Pugh (back) did not. The pair were relegated to light jogging outdoors while the team practiced in Quest’s fieldhouse.
“I felt good today,” said Vernon, who stayed in New Jersey during the bye to continue rehab. “We’ll see how I feel tomorrow.”
“I feel better. We’re going to see how it goes this week,” echoed Pugh. “(I’m going to) do whatever I can to get out there on Sunday.”
Cornerbacks Eli Apple and Janoris Jenkins, as well as running back Paul Perkins, also missed practice. McAdoo revealed the trio was excused for “personal reasons” and are expected to be present when the team reconvenes on Wednesday.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490