Cody Latimer’s career in Denver never amounted to much. The second-round pick — the Broncos even traded up to get him — finished his four seasons there with just 35 receptions for 445 yards. He scored three touchdowns, two of them last season, and didn’t have a single reception of 20 yards or more in his first three seasons.
He says that’s his own fault.
“I have nobody to blame but myself,” the new Giants receiver, acquired in free agency this offseason, told Newsday on Monday after the team’s first OTA. “I honestly wasn’t prepared. I took it for granted. I had to learn over the years . . . I learned how to be a pro. I don’t regret anything. It showed me how quick you can get out of here. I got a family to support and I couldn’t let that happen so I had to figure it out the hard way.”
That’s why he spent a lot of extra time so far this offseason working with Eli Manning and Davis Webb, both on the field and in the film room, trying to make up for lost time and change the narrative of his career. The Giants signed him thinking he might have a role in their offense, maybe even as the No. 2 outside receiver in a group that would include Odell Beckham Jr. on the other side of the field and Sterling Shepard in the slot.
That’s where Latimer has been playing so far. But as he’s learned, it’s no guarantee that’s where he’ll stay. Asked earlier this month if the Giants have a No. 3 receiver on the roster, Pat Shurmur said: “I don’t know.”
“We’ll just have to find out as we go, but we’ve added some guys to the mix,” Shurmur said. “Cody Latimer is here. We’ve got some young guys, Travis Rudolph has done a good job. So I think there are guys on our roster that we’re going to develop a trust in and put them out there and we expect them to produce.”
They’re also adding to that pool. Russell Shepard, who has played for the Bucs and the Panthers under Giants GM Dave Gettleman and Giants offensive coordinator Mike Shula, was signed by the Giants on Monday night.
“It’s the beginning stages,” Latimer said of his quest to make the team and have an impact on the field. “I’ve been working at the outside No. 2 since I’ve been here but we have to keep it going through the OTAs and the training camp so you earn the spot. There are a lot of guys who are making plays on a daily basis so I have to continue to make plays and stay on top of things to make sure I stay in the running.”
The Giants posted on Tuesday during an OTA practice that was closed to the media that Latimer caught a deep pass from Eli Manning.
“It’s very explosive,” Latimer said of the Giants’ new offense. “The offense is a perfect fit for us, an explosive offense with explosive players. So many mismatches all over the field, it’s going to be amazing.”
With defenses honing in on Beckham and Shepard and Evan Engram and Saquon Barkley, there should be plenty of opportunities for Latimer. But that’s not what he wants.
“Hopefully I get to the point where I take the attention off of them,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen. We all can make plays. I know I can make plays. . . . People are like ‘he’s gonna get put on the backburner,’ but hopefully I can take away stuff for Odell and Shep and them.”
He wasn’t that kind of player in Denver. What makes him think he’ll do it with the Giants?
“People have to see me in action,” he said, “and I don’t think they’ve really seen me yet.”