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Joe Judge finally gets to meet Giants rookies

Head Coach Joe Judge of the  Giants

Head Coach Joe Judge of the  Giants looks on during mini camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center on May 15, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Mike Stobe

Joe Judge keeps calling this week’s rookie minicamp more of an orientation than an evaluation. One of the reasons is that it is affording him a first chance to actually meet some of the players – even draft picks – in person. Since even the classroom work that has taken place since the players arrived for the event on Thursday has been virtual, the practice field has been the only setting for those introductions.

Judge said he and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham have walked off the field during the past two days commenting on player attributes they normally would have seen for themselves during the Combine, Pro Days or pre-draft player visits to the facility.

"It’s funny," he said. "Yeah, ‘that guy is bigger than we thought he was going to be’ or ‘that guy has thicker legs than we thought they were going to be.’ The first time seeing a guy in practice is bizarre."

For the players, too.

"I was nervous at first," cornerback Rodarius Williams said of his first face-to-face interaction with Judge on Friday, "but at the end of the day you settle in and get to know where he is and what he can tolerate around the facility, just learning and adapting to the new system right now."

Even a player as highly touted as second-round pick Azeez Ojulari had never met Judge prior to Thursday.

"It was great," he said. "Just got to finally meet the head coach, the one that runs the show. It was a great opportunity for me to meet him. I'm happy to be here with him and I'm ready to work with him."

Notes & quotes: So what’s next? The Giants are scheduled to begin Phase II of the offseason program, which allows for on-field work with players, on Monday and have OTAs scheduled to begin the following week on May 24. But with the league and the union in a staring contest over those voluntary events, Judge said he is not sure who will be on hand for what. "Obviously it's a voluntary period so we are going to work with every player we can whether it's virtual or in-person," he said. "Whoever is here we'll coach in person, whoever is virtual for the meetings we'll work with them virtually. Some guys will be doing both." The Giants players issued a statement through the union last month saying they stood in "solidarity" with players across the league and would "exercise our CBA right not to attend in-person voluntary workouts" … Fourth-round pick Elerson Smith was issued number 58, and as an outside linebacker that is sure to evoke memories of Carl Banks for a majority of Giants fans – even if Smith is too young to know much about Banks having been born nearly a decade after Banks retired. "It's an honor to have the number," Smith said. "I am extremely grateful they gave me that number. I haven't met Carl yet but I heard he'll be around the building. I’m excited to get a chance to meet him and pick his brain a little bit and get some advice from him."

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