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Group chat gives Giants better communication

Giants running back running back Andre Williams (44)

Giants running back running back Andre Williams (44) is wrapped up by outside linebacker Jacquian Williams (57) during NFL football minicamp, Wednesday, June 18, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: AP / Julie Jacobson

It didn't take long for rookie running back Andre Williams to get the message: the Giants need to be a cohesive unit "at all times."

Thanks to group text messages -- one with his position players only and one that includes running back coach Craig Johnson -- that memo has gone mobile.

Williams said group chat is used as an open forum, a learning place and a means to build chemistry. The linebackers and wide receivers have established similar group texts.

Williams smiled at the mention of his specific group chat and said his favorite part of it is seeing different and often candid sides to his teammates' personalities.

"Mike Cox, he's just a funny guy, we have a lot of fun with him," Williams said. "Mike is just different . . . He eats cheese and brown sugar sandwiches for breakfast. Like, that's his go-to breakfast. That just gives you a sense of what type of mentality he's got going into the thing. It's just fun to talk to him in a group chat."

Williams, a 5-11, 230-pounder out of Boston College, said the group chat helped make his transition to the team go smoothly. He immediately learned the names of his position mates and built from there.

"The chemistry in my room is as good as I've had in 30 years of coaching," Johnson said when asked about the mass texts with his players.

"I want to have communication with them so when I install the scheme, I can talk to them and make them explain the scheme back to me. Therefore I know they're digesting what I'm saying, not what I think that they're hearing, and that's critical. Knowing from having two little daughters who love to text, that's a great way to learn."

Williams added that the group chat reminds him that even though the players are competitors, they still can be friends. The teammates do everything from answering questions to recommending YouTube videos and the latest memes.

Lately, the memes are about horses.

"The last thing I remember was David [Wilson] had started calling us stallions," Williams said. "We're stallions because we run the ball and are the workhorses of the offense, so everyone was just sending different pictures of horses."

Veteran linebacker Spencer Paysinger, in his fourth year with the Giants, noted that the team communicates very well despite having so many new faces around the locker room.

He said the atmosphere isn't intimidating, whether the meeting place is a cellphone or the linebacker room.

"Whenever your communication's open to where a rookie or undrafted guy feels comfortable enough to stand up in front of a room and say 'I don't understand something' and have the vets and coaches treat him like an equal and answer those questions thoughtfully, I think it's a really good forum."

For Johnson, only positives come from his players being comfortable around each other. It's particularly essential for the offensive group, which is learning a new system under first-year offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. If group chats will bring on-field results, Johnson is all for it.

"Right now, the way we are going with our offense, the learning does not stop," Johnson said. "It's been certainly a challenge as a coach. You don't go home at 5 o'clock and shut off, I can tell you that right now. But I like that, and it's re-energized myself as a coach and a person."

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