Matt Peart grew up in the Bronx. That, he said, is why he played basketball as a kid and not football. Too much concrete.
But last year his family moved to Fishkill in Dutchess County. Good thing, too, because had he still been living in the city, it might have been difficult to find a place to work out for the next few weeks or months.
“Since I’m upstate, I can always find a little patch of grass so I can work on my offensive line technique,” the third-round pick of the Giants said this weekend. “I may look crazy out there, but I have to do what I have to do.”
All of the newest Giants do.
Because for just about as long as anyone can remember, being drafted by the Giants meant getting a plane ticket from the team, attending the rookie minicamp, obtaining some help finding an apartment in the New Jersey area and recognizing very quickly that what rookies think of as the bustling and exciting “New York” part of the team’s name is just a skyline in the distance.
This year, though, there will be none of that. Because of restrictions in place to combat the spread of the coronavirus and the limitations on in-person contact, the players the Giants drafted will remain at home for the time being.
“I’ve still been able to jog around the neighborhood or do some yoga in the house,” second-round pick Xavier McKinney said. “I’ve still been able to do some position work on the field. But I’m still trying to restrict it as much as I can, so it’s not all the time. I want to keep everyone else around me safe.”
Until further notice, such will be life in the NFL. Not much will change from the past month or so, other than the knowledge that they now are members of a team.
The Giants, like most other squads, have been holding virtual voluntary offseason programs for veterans. The NFL is still working through the details of how teams will be able to run rookie minicamps with similar technology, and coach Joe Judge said he hopes to have some kind of setup for his rookies next weekend.
“We want to start them on the process,” he said. “It will be very similar to what our vets have already gone through. For them it will be a little bit more of an orientation on the front end, let them know a little bit more about our program, but to be honest, with our vets, it’s a new staff and a new program, so it was an orientation for them as well.”
The position coaches will repeat to the rookies much of what they have installed since last Monday with the veterans, and at some point both groups will be caught up.
That’s a very new reality for the NFL, but for many of the young Giants, it’s a very familiar way of learning. Cornerback Darnay Holmes of UCLA said he took several classes toward his degree online.
“The key to learning that way is understanding that you can’t lollygag,” Holmes said. “You can’t put things to the side because at the end of the day, it’s on your own time. In this life we’re living, you do things on your own time, but at the end of the day, if you have a strict routine, you can never be swayed off to different distractions or different things that will hinder you from accomplishing the main goal, which is being the great contributor to the team.”
Still, there are plenty of things the rookies will miss out on, such as bonding with teammates and acclimating to a new geography. There are new football issues, too.
The Giants want to try to teach guard Shane Lemieux of Oregon how to snap as a center. Doing that on a practice field would be difficult enough. Doing it through videos and online chats is like being in a control tower trying to talk a non-pilot through a landing.
“The cross-training physically really at this point falls on the players themselves,” Judge said. “Look, it’s a lot easier if there were OTAs and we had Phase II and we could get on the field on a regular basis, but right now we’re kind of stuck with these guys working on their own.”
For how long, no one knows. The NFL will reassess its restrictions on offseason workouts on May 15 but already has said that if any of the 32 teams are impacted by local stay-at-home rules, none of the teams will be allowed to congregate.
So it’s likely the Giants rookies will spend most of their first summer in the NFL learning their playbooks and techniques on a computer, trying to stay in shape and waiting for the day when they can safely come to New Jersey and be Giants.
Giants tag Golden. The Giants placed an unrestricted free-agent tender on linebacker Markus Golden, using the rare tactic to protect their claim to him in the calculations for compensatory draft picks next spring while extending the window for his possible return to the team. If Golden remains unsigned by July 22, he can only play for the Giants in 2020. Golden is free to continue to negotiate with other teams until that deadline. Golden led the Giants with 10 sacks last year in his first season with the team. If he returns to the Giants under the tag he will earn a 10% raise from last season, which would mean a salary of around $5.22 million. As for the compensatory picks, Monday was the deadline for most signings to count toward and against the calculation without the use of this tag. If he signs elsewhere now Golden would still count for the Giants as well as his new team.