They kept track of the comings and goings for the last few months, watching the most tumultuous offseason for the Giants in more than a decade. But it wasn't until all of the players assembled for the start of the offseason program Monday that the changes became real to some of the longest-tenured players on the team.
Gone were some veterans, a few who had been pillars of the locker room, replaced by newcomers as the organizational overhaul was assembled for the first time.
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"It's unprecedented, the percentage of change in this locker room," said defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, who is entering his ninth Giants season.
"This is the most change I've been part of, for sure," added guard Chris Snee, returning for his 11th season with the Giants while half-joking that name tags would be appreciated for the 15 veteran free agents brought in since the end of the 2013 season. "It's going to take me a few weeks to learn all these guys' names."
Eli Manning is unable to run just two weeks removed from ankle surgery, but he spent part of his day in the NFL's version of speed dating.
"I tried to meet a lot of guys, tried to introduce myself to a lot of guys and start learning a little bit about them, where they're from, are they married," Manning said. "Just little things like that, so hopefully these next weeks, I'll get to spend more time with each of the players and get to know them on a personal side."
There also is a new offense to get to know, and that might be the most important part of the offseason program. Phase 1, which started Monday and lasts for two weeks, allows for only strength and conditioning work and rehabbing injuries, but players are getting their first taste of new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo as the installation of his system begins in the classrooms.
"That's just kind of become football,'' Manning said. "Sometimes you need change. We have a new offense, a new quarterback coach, a new offensive coordinator. It's a learning experience for me, getting adjusted to that, having a lot of new teammates and new faces . . . I think sometimes you've got to mix things up and change things up a little bit in your career. It will be a great challenge, but I'm looking forward to that."
Freeman signs. Nearly a week after agreeing to terms, free-agent quarterback Josh Freeman signed his one-year contract with the Giants Monday and participated with the rest of the team. The Giants added Freeman to give them a fourth quarterback during offseason workouts and into training camp while Manning recovers from ankle surgery.