Darius Powe got to run a few routes against the Giants’ starting defenders on Monday.
That was nothing new for him. As a member of the practice squad all last season, he went up against Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple every day.
Monday, though, felt a little different. Back then, he was trying to help the cornerbacks prepare for the upcoming opponent. This time he was trying to help himself. “This,’’ he said, “is to put my name on the map.”
He’s doing a good job of it. Powe has been one of the more consistent receivers in camp for the Giants, working mostly with the second team but occasionally getting to work with and against the starters. With Sterling Shepard and Tavarres King sidelined during team drills because of ankle injuries, the Giants need someone to step in and take those high-level reps.
Monday was Powe’s chance. He beat Jenkins deep down the left sideline to catch a pass from Geno Smith and made a nice sideline grab on a pass from Josh Johnson in a two-minute drill.
“He’s a player that knows what to do and how to do it,” Ben McAdoo said. “Any time you know what to do and how to do it, you have a chance to play fast and use what your abilities are.”
Powe — whose name is pronounced “Pow” and is tattooed on his arm in a design made to look like a comic book punch — was one of the final cuts by the team last year. He and fellow undrafted rookie Roger Lewis Jr. were vying for the same spot and the Giants went with Lewis on their 53-man roster. Powe was put on the practice squad.
Lewis has not been impressive this summer — an over-the-shoulder catch on Monday notwithstanding — and Powe seems to have jumped him on the depth chart.
“I feel like I’m doing good this camp,” he said. “Just trying not to have any bad days. You just want to keep progressing every day, getting better every day . . . I’m just building off last year.”
He said he believes he is faster and quicker, both physically and mentally, than he was a year ago. He also has a different goal than he had back then.
“Last year, I was just trying to make a team,” he said of hoping to catch the eye of any of the 32 NFL teams. “This year, I definitely want to make this team.”
It’ll be tough. With a logjam of established players at the top of the hierarchy, there aren’t many jobs to be had at the bottom, and competition there is fierce.
“There are a lot of guys fighting for jobs, a lot of guys on the bubble,” McAdoo said. “So there’s some nerves out there.”
For Powe, the competition across the line of scrimmage is familiar. That helps, even if the goal is a little different.