Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was asked in the spring why he wanted to add Olivier Vernon to the Giants roster.
“Because all of the offensive coaches thought that he was the toughest player to play against last year,” Spagnuolo said. “I thought that said it all.”
Vernon, one of the three big defensive additions in free agency, may not have put up great numbers with the Dolphins, but the Giants loved what they saw when they were preparing to face Miami – and when they actually played against him last year.
“You put on the tape and he is one of those guys that has a high motor and he makes a difference in the football game,” Spagnuolo said. “Jerry Reese saw the same thing, Ben [McAdoo] saw the same thing. Everybody kind of felt the same way when we watched him.”
Vernon will be under pressure to produce immediately given the contract that made him the highest-paid defensive end in the game. But the Giants have another player at the position who also will be the focus of scrutiny early on.
Jason Pierre-Paul returned from a horrific fireworks accident last year and proved he was able to get back on an NFL field (Reese called it “a miracle” that he was able to accomplish that). Now the world wants to see if he can return to the type of player he once was. He believes offseason surgery on his hand and the use of a new glove rather than the bulky club he wore last season will help tremendously. If it does, the Giants could have a very strong pair of ends.
“If you ask offensive coaches if there is only one guy on the other side of the ball that scares him, it is pretty easy to take them out of the game, double them, whatever,” Spagnuolo said. “If you have two, it makes it a little more challenging.”
Behind the starters are a lot of question marks. Owa Odighizuwa looked strong in offseason workouts as a backup to both JPP and Vernon, sometimes stepping in with the starters. Odighizuwa and Kerry Wynn also are able to move inside in some schemes. Ishaq Williams, the former Notre Dame player who was dismissed from the team because of academic fraud and hasn’t played in two years, made the Giants as a tryout in rookie minicamp and will try to earn a spot on the final roster. The Giants also are high on undrafted rookies Mike Rose and Romeo Okwara.