The Giants wrapped up their minicamp portion of the offseason on Thursday with the next stop being the commencement of training camp on July 26.
During the gap in activities, however, head coach Tom Coughlin doesn’t want his team to stray too far from a football mentality, even though the new collective bargaining agreement (OTA) forbids any more team-related activities until the start of camp.
“I told them all the essentials, to count the days until July 26. In this day and age it’s all about nutrition, rest and taking care of yourself,” Coughlin said. “It’s not like the old offseasons when you’d have 13 to 14 weeks [of rest]. We only had nine weeks this offseason. It’s hard to try to rest a little bit and then pick things back up. You wouldn’t be able to do that, so you have to stay ready.”
Coughlin allowed he has no qualms about his team returning to camp not ready to go, as he praised his roster for being complete professionals — even his rookies.
“There were some positives to take away in that we had a chance to get everyone back together again after three and a half months [off] and go through a regimented program, all voluntary, which everyone was here with the exception of two guys,” Coughlin said. “We made some progress, especially with some of the young players. ... They have a lot to learn, because the more you throw at them, the more difficult it is for them. But they’re working at it, so I don’t have any complaints about that. They’re a very [mature] group. And not just the rookies, but the free agents we signed, too.”
Among the notable players and units that impressed Coughlin the most were his linebackers. Gone are venerable names like Michael Boley and Chase Blackburn, and in step newcomers Dan Conner, Aaron Curry and Kyle Bosworth, and rising young veterans Mark Herzlich, Jacquian Williams and Spencer Paysinger. Veteran Keith Rivers is the only holdover with at least six starts last season.
“They’ve actually had a good spring. They’re very unselfish. They work hard and study hard,” Coughlin said. “The thing about them, if I call for a one-hour meeting those guys are probably still in there for an hour-and-a-half to two. I’ve seen some growth and good things happen out here.”
Antrel Rolle admitted the team underachieved for whatever reason last season, but feels like the spring sessions have set the tone for what could be a special season. The veteran safety praised his team for their professionalism and the camaraderie they’ve built in such a short amount of time.
“I think the OTAs showed the team’s enthusiasm, the way we jelled and our chemistry as a team. And not just as a DB [defensive backs] unit or a defense, but as a whole collective team,” Rolle said. “I’m looking forward for that to continue, because with that comes a lot of other [positive] things.”
Big Blue notes ...
» Coughlin was noncommittal about whether change could be on the way for recovering cornerback Terrell Thomas (ACL), but added he’d simply like to see the once-promising corner be cleared for action before making any decisions.
“I’m sure he’ll be limited [at the start of training camp], but he’s made good progress,” Coughlin said. “I’d like to see him just get the green light to go, and then we’ll decide where he can help us the best in that point in time.”
» Cornerback Prince Amukamara said he thinks Thomas will be an immediate help to a defensive backfield which struggled at inopportune times last season.
“[Thomas] can only help ... because playing in the secondary is just about communication and knowing where your help is, because our defense is based a lot on communication,” Thomas said. “We emphasized getting on the same page so everyone knows their assignments.”
» Amukamara, who’s now a very solid 205 pounds — up from his customary weight of about 199 — added he has high expectations of himself this year.
“I really want to be the No. 1 corner on this team,” Amukamara said. “Right now Corey [Webster] is and my goal is to always just try to beat him out. And I think as soon as I establish myself as the No. 1 corner, then hopefully just become the No. 1 corner in the whole league. I know that’s going to take work, but guys that came out of my draft class are doing great — [Cardinals corner] Patrick Peterson and [Seahawks corner] Richard Sherman — and those are the guys I kind of compare myself to and I’m just trying to exceed all of them.”
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8.