The Giants have made it a habit in recent years to initiate a new tight end each season, but Brandon Myers doesn’t feel as if he’s simply next on the assembly line.
Perhaps that’s because the 6-foot-3, 250-pounder isn’t in the mold of recent Giants tight ends, who ranged anywhere from the hulkish Kevin Boss (6-foot-7) and Jake Ballard (6-foot-6) to the ripped athletic types of Jeremy Shockey (6-foot-5) and Martellus Bennett (6-foot-7). Myers, rather, is more like a hybrid receiver/tight end who is adept at stretching the field and finding seams in the secondary than the aforementioned giants.
“Last year [in Oakland], we ran a lot of West Coast offense, and a lot of [short pass patterns] in the middle, trying to find holes in the zone,” Myers said. “This year, [tight ends] coach [Mike] Pope said, ‘More in the seam,’ and ‘go down the field,’ stuff like that. ... It’s a good offense for the tight ends. The offense in general is great because they have a lot of guys on the outside who will attract a lot of attention, [and] we’ve got a quarterback who is very intelligent and makes the right reads. So, if you’re where you’re supposed to be, when you’re supposed to be, he’ll find you.”
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride’s playbook has been tight-end friendly for years, so for Myers, who came from a dysfunctional outfit in Oakland to one of the most stable organizations in the NFL, the transition should be seamless. After all, if Myers can rack up 79 catches, 806 yards and four scores without a bonafide quarterback last year, catching passes from Eli Manning should only elevate the fifth-year veteran’s numbers.
Gilbride said while Myers is very talented, having Manning throw passes will definitely increase his impact. And the fact that the tight end is already very good at finding seams helps.
“We teach guys to get open. We give them some flexibility to react to the way the defensive technique is being employed, and with that flexibility comes the responsibility to do it in a way that the quarterback can interpret, and that you make the right decision,” Gilbride said. “In that sense it takes a little bit of time. ... The challenge really falls on making sure that [the receiver] and quarterback see it the same way. That’s why we meet together as a group every day [because] it’s really kind of simplistic in terms of the number of plays we run — probably less than many offenses would have. But in terms of the latitude that they’re granted on most plays, that’s where the sophistication comes in.”
Myers is hoping to pick up the offense quickly, as he knows his one-year deal is basically an audition for an extended stay here.
But at the forefront, Myers said winning is his main priority — something that evaded him during his four-year tenure in Oakland, in which they never won more than eight games in a season and missed the playoffs every year.
“This is a great opportunity to get to win some games, play in the playoffs, maybe go a little further or whatever, but I’m excited,” said Myers, who then gave an emphatic “definitely” when asked if there’s a marked difference in the two franchises. “We’ve got an organization from top to bottom. The guys in the locker room are great, so [the playoffs] is what everybody’s goal is, which is nice.”
But before Myers thinks of having an exceptional season, and before a possible maiden playoff berth, the tight end knows his game needs tinkering. Like most great pass-catching weapons at the position, the knock on Myers is that he’s a substandard blocker, particularly in the run game.
“Obviously that’s something that I try to work on every day, trying to be an every-down tight end, because I’m going against some bigger guys,” Myers said. “Coach Pope is the best in the business, or one of the best, so he’s been teaching me a few different things that maybe I haven’t had in the past. The key is to go out there every day and take what he tells you — the technique and the line stuff — and work on what he’s been teaching us.”
Big Blue notes ...
»Safety Antrel Rolle made an appearance at practice on Wednesday, and while the veteran didn’t participate, due to his sprained right ankle, he wasn’t wearing the protective boot he had on the previous day. Rolle said he spent all night getting treatment on his ankle and noted with a smile his disdain for showing any signs of injury — which is why he shed the boot after only 24 hours. “Boots are for wimps,” Rolle said when asked the whereabouts of his protective gear.
»Injured fullback Henry Hynoski (knee) also made an appearance but isn’t ready to practice yet. He, too, was walking around the facilities sans his knee brace. Hynoski isn’t all the way back yet and wanted to temper expectations about his return. He reasoned that former fullback Ryan D’Imperio’s sudden retirement last week had “nothing to do” with his imminent return.
»Cornerback Terrell Thomas has been participating more each day, but said he’s not sure of his status in the Sunday night tilt with the Colts.
“We’ll see,” Thomas said. “I’m still just building blocks and just trying to knock them down.”
»Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (back) was seen running sprints on the sidelines during practice. And for an even more encouraging sign of a possible speedy return, Pierre-Paul was also working with the tackling dummies on the side.
»Safety Cooper Taylor also did some light jogging on the side field.
»Cornerback Corey Webster and offensive lineman James Brewer were back in pads.
Follow Giants beat writer Tony Williams on Twitter @TBone8 for live updates from training camp.