There is a lot that goes into being a rookie in an NFL training camp, particularly a first-round pick. You have to carry equipment, sing occasional songs and typically pick up the tab on at least one super-expensive meal.
All of that makes it hard for Evan Engram to forget that this is his first year in the league. It acts as a reminder of his place in the team’s social hierarchy.
“A lot of the guys remind me,” Engram said of his status. “I’m definitely going to have that rookie tag.”
About the only time it doesn’t seem to stick to him is when he’s on the field.
Through his first three practices, Engram has fit right in with the Giants’ new offense, which requires him to perform a multitude of tasks. Ben McAdoo said playing tight end in his system is one of the most difficult positions on the field.
“We throw a lot at him: to have to play fullback, line tight-in from a wing-type position, in the slot and number one receiver, as well as special teams,” McAdoo said.
So does Engram have those bug rookie eyes that signify being overwhelmed? Is his head spinning from all of the assignments he is being given?
“No,” McAdoo said. “I haven’t seen that.”
Nor does Engram feel that way.
“I’m starting to get the rust off with learning the plays and starting to get more comfortable out there,” he said Sunday after a workout in which he made a few nice catches, including a touchdown in the red zone on a pass from Eli Manning and a nice grab down the right sideline in a no-huddle drill.
The day before, he was asked to be more of an in-line blocker. On one running play, he did a nice job first hitting linebacker Devon Kennard and then peeling off to block safety Landon Collins.
Being used that way is nothing new for Engram.
“The offense in college, the tight end was by far the toughest position to learn, so I was already kind of adjusted to that, being asked to do a lot,” he said. “Tight ends are kind of the Swiss army knife, especially [in an offense] like ours, so there’s a lot we have to learn. There’s a lot of technique for us to learn so we can be successful in the things we have to do.”
Engram’s hallmark at Ole Miss wasn’t blocking, though. It was his blazing speed and his ability to catch the ball down the field. He even said Sunday that he’d like to be compared to a player like Giants receiver Brandon Marshall more than a traditional tight end. “A big body, fast receiver that goes and chases the ball,” he said. “That’s what I want to be.”
The Giants think he can be more than just that, though. That’s why they are giving him so much responsibility.
In the spring, the coaching staff talked about easing Engram into things, limiting the range of his tasks. Now, though, after spending time with him, they seem to be thinking just the opposite.
“We feel he can handle it,” McAdoo said. “He has to work at it, and it’s not going to be easy. He’s going to make some mistakes. But as long as he learns from his mistakes, he has a chance.”
A chance to not look like a rookie — at least when he’s on the field.