The Giants announced on Monday that they had placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on the standout defensive tackle. It is the second consecutive year Williams has received the franchise. He is the first player the Giants have ever tagged twice.
In 2020, Williams made $19.3 million.
The 26-year-old Williams was scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent a week from tomorrow, the start of the NFL’s new business year. A franchise tag is basically a one-year deal that grants a window to negotiate a long-term contract. If there is no contract agreement before July 15, Williams will play the 2021 season under the one-year deal, which is what he did last season.
The move gives the two sides time to negotiate a long-term contract, and according to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, both sides will continue to work towards a long-term deal.
However, the six-year veteran is free to negotiate with any team, but if Williams signs a contract with another team, the Giants will receive two first-round draft choices as compensation.
‘Like I said about all of our players, I’d love to have Leonard back,” Giants head coach Joe Judge said via a zoom call on Tuesday. “He’s a guy that obviously we really value in this building, and we’d love to have him around here. When we talk specifically about how that helps the pass rush, I think good players help you play good, and it’s no secret that he’s a very good player.”
Williams’ team-leading 11.5 sacks were the most by a Giants’ player since Jason Pierre-Paul’s 14.5 in 2014 and were 7.5 more than any of his teammates, 4.5 more than his previous best total (in 2016), and 11.0 more than he had in 2019. He was third in the NFL with 30 quarterback hits and tied for sixth with 14 tackles for loss. Williams was fifth on the Giants with 57 tackles (29 solo).
Expect the Giants and Williams to get a deal done sooner than later.
Daunting challenges rooted in history, statistics and athleticism will greet the Giants when they face the Baltimore Ravens tomorrow in M&T Bank Stadium.
The Giants haven’t won in Baltimore since Sept. 15, 1963, when they defeated the Colts, 37-28. Okay, that’s misleading because they’ve since played there just twice, but both of those games – also played in December – were eminently forgettable. In 2004, rookie Eli Manning had an 0.0 passer rating and was replaced in a game for performance reasons for the only time in his career in a 37-14 loss. Eight years ago, the Giants lost, 33-14, as the Ravens gained 533 yards (309 passing, 224 on the ground), and owned the ball for more than 39 minutes. And we don’t need to discuss what happened when the teams met in Super Bowl XXXV 20 years ago.
Now the Giants are 5-9 and hoping to end a two-game losing streak in which they scored just 13 total points. They can win the NFC East title if they defeat the Ravens and Dallas and the Washington Football Team loses at least one of its final two games. But a Giants loss coupled with a Washington victory tomorrow will make Washington the division champions.
“Not to think about the playoffs or anything like that, but we’re basically treating it like the playoffs right now,” defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. “We know what’s at stake and we know that we have to win these last two games basically to go to the playoffs. Starting now is basically our playoffs. That’s kind of how we’re treating this game.”
Baltimore, which has defeated the three other NFC East teams, is 9-5, a record perhaps skewered by a COVID-influenced three-game losing streak that forced them to play a Wednesday night game in Pittsburgh without several players, notably quarterback Lamar Jackson. The Ravens scored 121 points in defeating Dallas, Cleveland and Jacksonville the last three weeks.
“Obviously, they’re getting guys back now healthy,” Giants coach Joe Judge said. “They’re really hitting their stride. This is a very good team. It’s going to take everything we have to prepare for them. We have to have our best on Sunday.”
Baltimore will make that difficult. The Ravens are the only team in the top six in the league in both points scored (fourth at 28.8 a game) and points allowed (sixth at 20.5). Baltimore leads the NFL in both rushing yardage per game (172.7) and per carry (5.2). Defensively, the Ravens rank ninth by allowing 343.7 yards a game and their third-down defense is tied for fourth (allowing conversions on just 36.6% of opponents attempts).
The Ravens have plenty of incentive; they’ve not clinched a playoff berth and could miss the postseason at 11-5 if they don’t get help.
Safety Logan Ryan last season played for the Tennessee Titans when they took leads of 14 and 22 points on their way to a 22-12 victory against the top-seeded Ravens in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game in Baltimore.
“The reason why my team had success against the Ravens last year is that we came out, we started fast, we got a lead,” Ryan said. “I think when you get a lead on the Ravens it makes them play behind, it changes their defense and their offensive schemes a little bit from playing from behind. They’re built to play from ahead because they’re really good at running the ball, they’re really aggressive on defense and you want to get those guys behind on the scoreboard early. So, starting fast is a major point for us and be ready to go on Sunday, believe you can win the game. Be ready to go and start fast is definitely a key point for us.”
The Ravens tied the NFL high with seven players selected to the Pro Bowl. One of those excluded was Jackson, the league’s most valuable player in 2019. In 13 games, Jackson has completed 64.8% of his passes and thrown for 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He leads all NFL quarterbacks with a team-high 828 rushing yards and has scored seven touchdowns on the ground. After running for 1,206 yards last year, Jackson is the only quarterback in NFL history with at least 800 yards rushing in consecutive seasons.
Jackson is 9-0 in starts against NFC teams.
“I think this guy is a unicorn in terms of how he can play,” Judge said. “He really makes explosive plays with his legs, along with the arm strength and the plays down the field he’s capable of making right there.
“This player is explosive. He’s very elusive, he’s extremely fast, he has great running instincts, he has very good balance and body control, he’s tough to take down, he breaks a lot of tackles. He can get to his top speed very quickly, but then also decelerate and changes direction at will. This is a guy, he’s a much different type of player at that position than really any other quarterback I can think of in the league. Obviously, he’s having a tremendous amount of success with what he does.”
After facing Seattle’s Russell Wilson and Arizona’s Kyler Murray this month, Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has had to devise a plan for another dynamic, multi-dimensional quarterback in Jackson.
“He’s different, he’s very different,” Graham said. “…This guy is so fast, he’s so big, he’s so dynamic with the ball. When you sell out for the run game, he will throw the ball over your head and it will be a touchdown with the targets they have. With Hollywood (Marquise Brown) and (Mark) Andrews. It’s a unique challenge. I’m looking forward to it. Guys have to get ready for it. It’s going to be fun. We just have to see if we can execute.”
Their hopes of staying in the division race might depend on it.
“The weather’s cold, most teams are physical this time of year, most teams run the ball, most teams want to stop the run,” Ryan said. “It’s really about executing your details, executing the game, being good situationally and when we tend to do that, we tend to win the game. To us, it’s about cleaning up our details and executing and getting ready to play the Ravens.”
*Wide receiver Golden Tate will not play because of a calf injury. Tate is fourth on the team with 35 catches for 388 yards. He has two touchdown receptions.
Quarterback Daniel Jones (hamstring/ankle), linebacker Blake Martinez (ankle) and cornerback Darnay Holmes (knee) are questionable.
In what will certainly be no surprise to Russell Wilson, Giants defensive lineman Leonard Williams has been selected the NFC Defensive Player of the Week.
Williams was the dominant defensive player and Wilson’s primary tormentor in the Giants’ 17-12 victory Sunday. The sixth-year pro tied his career high with 2.5 sacks – all in the second half – for 25.5 yards and was credited with five of the Giants’ 10 pressures on Wilson, who seemingly had to avoid Williams every time he dropped back to pass.
The Giants sacked Wilson five times for 47 yards, held Seattle to 4-of-15 on third and fourth downs, and limited the Seahawks to one drive of longer than 57 yards.
In the third quarter, Williams sacked Wilson for a 15-yard loss to help force a Seattle punt. Midway through the fourth quarter, Williams teamed with Jabaal Sheard for a five-yard sack. And with the Seahawks desperately trying to drive for the go-ahead touchdown, Williams sacked Wilson for a 10-yard loss on a third down with 48 seconds remaining, all but ending Seattle’s chances to win the game (Wilson threw a desperation incompletion on fourth down).
Williams increased his season sack total to a career-high 8.5, which ties him with former Giant Jason Pierre-Paul for sixth in the NFL. His previous best was 7.0 sacks as a second-year pro with the Jets in 2016.
Williams is the second Giant to win a Player of the Week award this season; kicker Graham Gano won special teams honors in Week 9 after kicking three field goals in the Giants’ 23-20 victory in Washington.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins was the last Giants defensive player named Player of the Week; he was honored in Week 4 of 2019 after intercepting two passes against Washington.
Williams is the first Giants defensive lineman to be named Player of the Week since Pierre-Paul in Week 12 of 2016 when he had 3.0 sacks and returned an interception for a touchdown in Cleveland.
The quarterback had last started exactly 14 months ago and hadn’t won as a starter since 2014. The backup running back scored two touchdowns for the first time since … 2014, including the first scoring reception of his nine-year, 110-game career.
But while Colt McCoy and Alfred Morris were two of the Giants’ key offensive performers on Sunday, they could not outshine the team’s ferocious defense, which held Seattle’s high-scoring offense to one touchdown and is getting key contributions from numerous youngsters, including one who has accomplished a statistical feat unmatched by a Giants player in 70 years.
Something special is happening with the Giants. The resurrection of their 2020 season took another great leap forward at Seattle’s Lumen Field, where they overcame a scoreless first half to defeat the Seahawks, 17-12. Numerous television analysts quickly labeled it one of the NFL season’s biggest upsets. The Giants won their fourth consecutive game, improved to 5-7, solidified their hold on first place in the NFC East and pushed their 0-5 start further toward irrelevance.
“We walked in here confident, I’m not going to lie,” safety Jabrill Peppers said. “Team had a different swagger about them, team had a different juice about them today because we knew if we played our brand of football, we knew we could shock a lot of people. The ball rolled in our favor. I’m proud of the way guys fought.”
“This has been a fun season,” defensive lineman Leonard Williams said. “I think the beginning of the season is when the team and the guys and the coaches proved to each other what type of team we really have. It’s easier to be happy and see the good things when you are winning, but I feel like we all see the good things in each other and what we have, even when we were losing. That just helped continue to build our confidence in each other and build on what we have working here. Eventually, it turns into a snowball and it keeps building up. I feel like we have a real culture here now and I love the way this team is going.”
McCoy and Morris each appeared in one game during the 2019 season, with Washington and Arizona, respectively. McCoy started against New England on Oct. 6, completed 18 of 27 passes in a 33-7 loss and then was inactive or did not play in the final 11 games.
He saw his first Giants action last week in Cincinnati, where Daniel Jones suffered a hamstring injury that forced him to the inactive list on Sunday. McCoy stepped in and completed 13 of 22 passes for 105 yards, one touchdown and one interception and earned his first victory in a starting role since Oct. 27, 2014, when he led Washington to a win in Dallas.
“I am just so proud to be part of this team,” McCoy said. “We had zero points at halftime and the defense was playing lights-out and we rallied together and they helped me out, they calmed me down. I felt like I played a little better as the game went on. I was seeing a lot of things early. They pressured a lot and I wasn’t confused on a whole lot of looks, I just was kind of seeing it too quick. I just needed to calm down, take a breath and once we started to run the football, I felt a lot better.”
Morris contributed 39 yards to the Giants’ season-high 190 rushing yards. The bulk of the production came from Wayne Gallman, who had a career-high 135 yards, including a 60-yard run that was the longest of his career.
“Part of our game plan obviously was to run the ball,” coach Joe Judge said. “It starts up front with the guys blocking. I thought they did a good job of playing hard and wearing them down over time. I thought our backs ran tough and finished runs.”
Judge was confident McCoy would play well against a Seattle team that entered the game with an 8-3 record and a one-game lead in the NFC West.
“He’s as competitive as anyone in this league,” Judge said. “You put this guy against our defense, you put him in a two-minute drill, he gives you headache after headache. This guy comes to work every day and this guy is a ballplayer.”
So is Morris, who has rushed for more than 6,000 yards in the NFL. He didn’t join the Giants until he was signed to the practice squad on the last day of September and made his debut on Nov. 2. Morris scored each of the Giants’ touchdowns in the third quarter on a four-yard run and a six-yard catch, the latter a career first.
“I definitely double-caught it,” said Morris, who had snuck unnoticed into the right flat. “I was so wide open, I just assumed somebody was going to be there. I think they were planning for us to run a gap run again, which I think that drew them in and normally I don’t do those types of plays. I think it just made it work that much more and I was able to just creep out into the flat and I was so open, that’s why I kind of double-caught it. That was actually my first receiving touchdown, so that was huge and felt really good to get into the end zone.”
The Giants also got a 48-yard field goal from Graham Gano, his 25th consecutive successful attempt.
Seattle averaged 31 points in its first 11 games and had scored more than 30 points seven times. But they did not reach the end zone until 6:09 remained in the game, when Russell Wilson threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to running back Chris Carson. Wilson completed 27 passes for 263 yards, but he was sacked five times, hit 10 times and was chased on virtually every one of his 43 pass attempts – including a final desperation heave on fourth-and-18 that fell to the ground with 37 seconds remaining.
Williams led the Giants’ onslaught with a career high-tying 2.5 sacks.
“I think schematically we did a good job making (Wilson) feel pressure and making him uncomfortable,” Williams said. “He felt like he had a guy on his side and had to hold the ball. I felt like we were coming at him from a lot of angles and it made him a little bit confused sometimes. Overall, he’s the head of the offense being the quarterback and making him uncomfortable is what we needed to do. I think we did a good job of that.”
Williams increased his season total to a career-best 8.5 sacks.
“That guy is a man,” Judge said. “That dude is a man. There are things about Leo that you may not know by not being in the locker room with him. First off, this guy is a pleasure to be around. This guy smiles all the time. He’s a great teammate, he’s very coachable. You give him something to work on, he’s going to work as hard as he can to master it. He gives us a lot of versatility on the defense because of his skillset. And this dude is just a guy that when you see him in your locker room before the game, he makes you feel a little bit better. Obviously, there’s statistics on the field that you see, what you don’t see is what kind of guy he is to coach, what kind of teammate he is away from it. That’s as important if not more important than all the statistics you see on the sheets. This guy helps everyone else raise their level of preparation and play.”
Several of his teammates played at a high level on Sunday. Peppers, rookie linebacker Tae Crowder and Jaball Sheard accounted for the Giants’ other 2.5 sacks. Rookie Darnay Holmes intercepted a Wilson pass for his first career pick. In what is almost a weekly occurrence, linebacker Blake Martinez led the Giants in tackles (10, including five solo) and forced one a fumble. Niko Lalos, who intercepted a pass in his NFL debut last week, fell on the ball when Wilson couldn’t secure a second-quarter snap. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Lalos is the first Giants player with at least one interception and one opponent fumble recovery in first two NFL games since Otto Schnellbacher in 1950.
“These guys work hard,” Judge said of his defensive players. “(Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham) has a good plan and I think there’s really good position coaches on each side of the ball. They’re very detailed in their approach. Our players have gotten more comfortable in our scheme and they’ve been able to build on the multiples. You have to have multiples to play a lot of these quarterbacks that we’re playing. You’ve got to be able to play guys like Russell Wilson where you can go ahead and stop him in the run game. That’s a lot easier said than done. At the same point, you want to try and confuse them a little bit in the passing game which again is a lot easier said than done.”
The Seahawks led at halftime, 5-0, thanks to Jason Myers’ 31-yard field goal on the game’s opening series and a safety late in the second quarter after Ryan Neal blocked Riley Dixon’s punt. But the Giants scored 17 consecutive points before Seattle’s late touchdown.
The victory assures the Giants will remain in first place, no matter what Washington does Monday evening in Pittsburgh. The Giants have four games remaining, three at home, beginning next week against the Cardinals.
“We know we have to keep stacking them,” Peppers said. “That was a great team we just played but we know we have another great team coming in next week. We’re going to enjoy the win tonight, get this tape corrected, cleaned up and shift our focus to Arizona.”
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is still playing at an elite level at the of 43. On Thursday, Brady was named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month. In October, Brady completed 105-of-159 passes (66.0 percent) for 1,157 yards and 12 touchdowns, with just one interception, earning a 110.0 passer rating. Brady led all quarterbacks with his 12 passing touchdowns and a 12:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio in the month while leading all players with 13 total touchdowns.
On Monday night, the Buccaneers(5-2) travel to MetLife Stadium to battle the Giants(1-6). Obviously, if the Giants want to slow Brady and the Buccaneers’ high powered offense, which is third in the NFL in points per game(31.7), they are going to have to find a way to get after the quarterback, and according to Giants DT Leonard Williams, it’s hard to get after Brady because he gets the ball out quickly.
“Every time I’ve played against Tom Brady, even back in my early career against him, he’s known for getting the ball out really quickly,” Williams said on Friday. “He’s also not a scrambling type of quarterback; he doesn’t want to roll out of the pocket and stuff like that. He can if you allow him, but he doesn’t want to run the ball. He wants to step up in the pocket, he wants a clear step up lane, and he wants to get the ball out quickly. For a d-line, we want to get that middle presence, that middle push, and not allow him to step into his throws. Get him throwing off of his back foot and stuff like that. Just getting pressure in his face.”
In two Super Bowl victories over Brady and the Patriots, the Giants found a way to get after Brady, which ultimately helped New York. Williams feels New York needs to do the same thing on Monday night.
“Yeah, I think anybody can get rattled,” Williams said. “Any quarterback can get rattled if you’re affecting him enough. But he’s obviously been in this game long enough where he can get hit; he can get back up and keep playing. He’s obviously been doing it for a long time. But for our defense to be effective, that’s what we’re going to have to come in handy, is not allowing him to step up and hitting him as much as possible.”
It won’t be easy to slow down Brady, but if the Giants want to make that happen, they have to put Brady on the ground. Easier said than done.
After three games, the 2020 New York Giants are looking a lot like the 2019 version of this team, which finished 4-12. On Sunday against the 49ers, Giants QB Daniel Jones had two turnovers (interception, fumble), and New York(0-3) was routed by San Francisco(2-1) 36-9 at MetLife Stadium.
In three games, Jones, who had 23 turnovers last season, has turned the ball over six times, including four interceptions. New York had only 231 yards of total offense on Sunday, and they did not run a play in the red zone. The second-year quarterback finished the game 17/32, 179 yards, one interception.
“I think you look at each one of those individually and try to understand what happened, what the mistake was, and move on from it,” Jones said after the game. “You know, I need to do a better job, and that’s something I’m focused on. I think those are costly mistakes, and I certainly need to correct them.”
Defensively, New York allowed 49ers backup QB Nick Mullens to throw for 343 yards and one touchdown. The Giants could not get off the field, and were unable to force the 49ers to punt. However, even with the struggles, DE Leonard Williams believes New York has a good football team.
“I do think we do have a really good team and a tough team, and I never see any quit in this team. I believe that we’re right there and we just need to fix a few pieces and a few little gaps here and there and stop beating ourselves,” Williams said. “It’s already hard to beat a team, and it’s going to be harder when we’re making mistakes on ourselves as well, so I just think that we need to overcome a few of those mistakes that we’ve been making and just keep playing hard.”
Jones echoed Williams’ sentiment, and he believes the team will improve moving forward.
“I think for us as a team, and for everyone in the building, it’s important that we correct the things that went wrong,” Jones said. “We understand what went wrong and we’ll improve from this game, and not to let it define us as a team. We know that we’re capable of playing a lot better than we did today. I think there were a lot of things that happened that were uncharacteristic of who we are and what we can be.
“As a team, we need to understand that we need to move forward and go back to work determined to play better and to fix the things that have gotten in our way these first few weeks. We’re not going to let it affect our confidence; we’re certainly not going to let it affect how we work and how hard we attack this week, how hard we attack the preparation towards the Rams. I think we have the guys in the locker room to do it, and that mindset and that approach this week will be key.”
The Giants have to get better play out of Jones. He has a lot of ability, but the turnovers continue to get in the way. It’s still early, and the Giants play in a lousy division. However, at 0-3, if things don’t turn around fast, it could be another long season in New York. Hopefully, for New York, the turnaround starts next week on the road against the Rams.
The Giants announced today that defensive tackle Leonard Williams signed his non-exclusive franchise tag. Williams received the tag from the team on March 16.
By signing the tag, Williams is now under contract for the 2020 season at the salary assured by the tag, which is based on the average of the top five salaries from his position. He is no longer free to speak with other teams. The Giants and Williams can negotiate a long-term contract.
Had Williams signed a contract with another team instead of the tag, the Giants would have received two first round draft choices as compensation. Williams was the first Giants player to receive a tag since another defensive lineman, Jason Pierre-Paul, in 2015.
The Giants acquired Williams, a former first-round draft choice, on Oct. 29, 2019 from the Jets for two draft choices – a third-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, which begins Thursday, and a fifth-round choice in 2021.
Williams, 6-5 and 302 pounds, is a disruptive defender against both the run and pass. He played in eight games with five starts for the Giants and had 26 tackles (13 solo), a half-sack, two tackles for loss, 11 quarterback hits, two passes defended and a forced fumble.
Williams had a season-high five tackles in the Jets’ season opener vs. Buffalo and in each of the Giants’ games against Philadelphia, including a season-best five solo stops in Lincoln Financial Field on Dec. 9.
The sixth overall selection in the 2015 draft, from USC, Williams has played in 79 career games with 75 starts. His career totals include 266 tackles (136 solo), 17.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and six passes defended.
Williams, 25, teams with 2017 second-round draft choice Dalvin Tomlinson, 2018 third-round selection B.J. Hill and 2019 first-rounder Dexter Lawrence to give the Giants a talented quartet of young defensive linemen.
(Michael Eisen/NY Giants)
The Giants today returned to work after their bye with the same goal they had when they departed – find a way to win a game and end their season on a successful run.
“I think it’s important that we get a win as quickly as possible,” defensive tackle Leonard Williams said. “As important as it is to get a win as quickly as possible, I think it’s important to stack a win as well, like getting two wins back-to-back would be really important and it would be good for the team’s morale and going forward for the rest of the season.”
They can take a first positive step on Sunday, when they face the Bears in Chicago. The Giants haven’t won since beating Washington on Sept. 29 and will carry a six-game losing streak into Soldier Field.
At 2-8, is it best for the Giants to treat the post-bye portion of their schedule as a new season?
“I’ve never been in this situation, so I don’t really know how to answer your question,” said 10-year veteran wide receiver Golden Tate. “But I can just imagine that at the end of the day we all have a job to do. No matter what the circumstances are, we’re supposed to show up to work and be professionals in what we do, and I can’t imagine doing it any other way beside giving it my all and just go 1-0 each week. Besides that, although the record isn’t what we want, there are still jobs that are on the line. I’m going to try to set myself up for next year and the year after that. Just continue to show up to work with a positive attitude. I’m excited to play football and see what happens.”
When a team struggles as the Giants have, the bye provides little respite for some. The players can’t or don’t completely shut off football, because they remain focused on finding a way to win.
“Even when I was back home, I was still studying,” said linebacker Markus Golden, who leads the team with 6.5 sacks. “I was on the plane, I couldn’t even sleep because I was watching film the whole way. When a team isn’t doing too good and you go on the bye week, it’s kind of like, ‘Ah, I want to get back real quick so we can try to fix it.’ But at the same time, you have to have that space and get away a little bit, get with your family. Then come back and be able to rejuvenate and get out there and finish the season strong.”
Although the bye might seem like a sensible time to make extensive personnel or strategic adjustments, coach Pat Shurmur dismissed the feasibility of that notion.
“Let’s think about it for a minute,” Shurmur said. “What does a bye week entail? You come back from your previous game, you clean that up, you have a couple days of practice and then the league mandates that they’re off for four or five days. Then you get ready for your next opponent. The important thing is to go back and look at the things and try to clean up the things that you’re not doing well and keep building on the things that you’re good at. I guess my point is there’s not as much time as everybody thinks to make these wholesale changes that sometimes people think may happen.”
Shurmur was asked for specific areas in which he would like to see the Giants improve.
“Along the way, you’re playing good football and all of a sudden, you give up a third down,” he said. “Or you’re playing good football and you give up a big play. Or all of a sudden, you’re moving the ball and somebody misses a block and you have a sack fumble. Those are the kinds of things you have to clean up. That’s just doing the same, being consistently good throughout. I think those are the things that when you look back on it, you say, ‘Okay, this is the handful of things that created a bad situation for us.’ Then you do what you can to eliminate those.”
That process continued today and the Giants are hopeful it will produce a winning result on Sunday.
*Tight end Evan Engram, who was inactive last week against the Jets with a foot injury, no longer wears a walking boot and believes he has a chance to play against the Bears.
“It’s definitely possible, I feel good,” Engram said. “We’ll see where we’re at (in the) middle to the end of this week. I’m staying locked in in meetings, game plans and stuff like that, that’s very important as well. I think as long as I stay prepared mentally and continue to do what I do with my foot, I could be ready to go.
“I’m feeling really good, progress is going along really well. The trainers are doing a really good job, it’s definitely on the upward trend of getting back soon.”
*Two offensive linemen who did not play vs. the Jets – center Jon Halapio (hamstring) and right tackle Mike Remmers (back) — returned to practice today. Left tackle Nate Solder, who left the Jets game with a concussion, was excused for personal reasons.
*Wide receiver Sterling Shepard practiced fully and cornerback Janoris Jenkins wore a no-contact yellow vest. Both players are in the NFL concussion protocol.
“They’re still going through it, so we’ll see what the week brings,” Shurmur said. “But we’re encouraged that they’ll make it through.”
*Tight end Rhett Ellison, who is also in the protocol, did individual drills.
*Rookie tackle George Asafo-Adjei, who suffered a concussion in training camp and has been on injured reserve all season, returned to the team.
“It’s his first day back,” Shurmur said. “He’s making good progress, but we’ll just have to see. Put him through the paces here and see how he does.”
Courtesy: Michael Eisen
The Giants today sharply upgraded a defensive line that already includes three highly-drafted young players.
The team announced it has acquired lineman Leonard Williams, the sixth overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft, in a trade with the Jets, who will receive a 2020 third-round selection and a 2021 fifth round selection that could become a fourth.
Williams joins a defensive front that includes three-year veteran Dalvin Tomlinson (second-round selection in 2017), second-year pro B.J. Hill (third-round choice in 2018), and rookie Dexter Lawrence, who was chosen 17th overall in the 2019 draft.
Tomlinson and Lawrence have started all eight games this season (the former has started 40 consecutive games) and Hill has played in every game with five starts. Hill leads the trio with 23 tackles (eight solos) but has yet to record a sack after finishing with a Giants rookie record 5.5 last year. Lawrence has 21 tackles (11 solo) and 2.0 sacks, and Tomlinson has 1.5 sacks among his 20 tackles (12 solo). Among the reserve linemen, Olsen Pierre has 2.0 sacks and RJ McIntosh has 1.0.
“I don’t know any of them personally, but I know about them,” Williams said. “I’m definitely excited to get to work with them, get to know the guys personally so we can bond together and get at it. I’m still learning, I have to learn the defense, get the playbook and all that stuff tonight. This is my first time ever in a new building in the NFL, there is a lot going on right now.
“I’m just ready to bring some toughness, some pass rush, some run stop, everything. Being a good teammate to the guys, being a good guy in the building on and off the field, just know that I am going to give it my all every day.”
Williams said he will be able to learn the defense in time to contribute to the defense when the Giants host the Dallas Cowboys on Monday night.
“I don’t think it will be too hard,” he said. “When I was in college, I had a different defensive coordinator every year, I had two different D-coordinators here (with the Jets). I think because I’ve had so many different D-coordinators and had to learn defenses quickly, I’ve learned how to learn stuff fast.”
In a corresponding move, the Giants waived linebacker Tae Davis, who was one of the four starting linebackers in the season opener in Dallas. Davis has played just three other games and has been inactive four of the last five, including Sunday in Detroit. He joined the Giants last year as a rookie free agent from Chattanooga and played in 14 games with four starts.
The 6-5 and 302-pound Williams has never missed a game in his five NFL seasons, starting 70 of the 71 games in which he’s played, including 65 in a row. The only game Williams did not start was on Oct. 25, 2015 vs. New England in the sixth game of his rookie season.
Williams’ career statistics include 299 tackles (169 solo), 17.0 sacks, 90 quarterback hits, one interception, three passes defensed, and two forced fumbles. In seven games this season, he has 20 tackles (eight solo), five quarterback hits and one pass defensed.
“We are excited to have Leonard,” said coach Pat Shurmur. “He is a young yet very experienced defensive player who has the ability to make an impact against the run and the pass. In our system, he has the ability to play multiple positions on our defensive line. I have been impressed by how hard he plays every single snap. Everybody we spoke with talked about what a hard worker Leonard is and what a good teammate he is.”
Williams had his most productive season in 2016, when he was selected to the Pro Bowl and named the Jets’ MVP after he started all 16 games for the first time and recorded career-high totals of 86 tackles, 49 solos, 7.0 sacks, and both of his forced fumbles.
Williams’ name had been floated in trade rumors for several weeks. But that didn’t diminish the surprise when he got the news.
“I still was a little bit shocked because I got drafted there,” Williams said. “I know we have a new G.M. (Joe Douglas), so I knew it was still a possibility. Mentally, I was still preparing myself, but I didn’t know if it was going to happen or not. I also didn’t know it would happen with the Giants. I think that’s a big help not to have to go to a new city.
“I think it’s a transition. Any change is going to be a little bit of an adjustment. At the same time, I am excited, the guys seem happy to have me here. I’m obviously going to try to work hard and do as much as I can for people that want to have me around.”
Being traded to the Giants lessens the logistical challenge Williams faces this week.
“That definitely makes the adjustment a lot easier,” he said. “If I had to be traded, it makes it a lot easier that I don’t have to pack a bag and move to a whole new city overnight. I’m still right up the street, I don’t have to change my area code or anything like that. I came right down here this morning, just a quick 30-minute drive, I’m still in the same area, still in New York. That definitely helps the adjustment.”
Williams’ second game with the Giants will be against his former team. On Nov. 10, the Giants will be the visiting team when they face the Jets.
“I’m excited for it,” Williams said.