Joe Judge said the thing he likes most about Jabrill Peppers so far is the energy and enthusiasm he brings, whether it is in meetings or on the field.
“You hear him before you see him,” Judge said.
As for where, exactly, we’ll see Peppers this season, Judge said that is up in the air.
“It’s going to be wherever we need him,” the Giants head coach said. “We’re going to give him a swing of the bat at a lot of things. We’re going to shake it out week by week. However our opponent matches us up, he’ll be ready to take on a different position for us.”
For the most versatile player on the defense, that could mean anything from deep centerfield to up at the line of scrimmage to a hybrid linebacker to . . . cornerback?
It’s not the most outlandish suggestion that Peppers could fill that kind of coverage role for the Giants, especially since they seem to be having difficulty finding anyone to step into the starting job opposite James Bradberry. First it was supposed to belong to DeAndre Baker, but he’s now on the commissioner’s exempt list while facing four felony armed robbery charges and the possibility of life in prison in Florida. Then Sam Beal was considered the front-runner, but he opted out of the season due to concerns about the coronavirus. This past weekend the Giants agreed to terms with veteran Ross Cockrell, but he backed out of the deal before the contract was signed.
It leaves the Giants with a crew of rather inexperienced players contending for the very important job. But it also opens the door to the possibility of Peppers pitching in to play that spot. The Giants are much deeper at safety than cornerback, and Peppers certainly has the athleticism to play more coverage if needed.
He’s open to the idea.
“First and foremost, I will play wherever the team needs me to play,” Peppers said. “We’ve all been cross training and can do multiple things. Whatever the scheme is, whatever they see fit, that’s what it’s going to be.”
None of which is to say Peppers will be making a full-time move to cornerback. But Judge seemed intrigued by the possibility.
“Based on who the receiver is, maybe there’s a game we have to use him in that kind of role,” Judge said. “We’ll have to see where the depth and the opponent takes us based on the weekly game plan.”
It’s definitely something the Giants can see happening with Peppers . . . this time even before they hear it.
Notes & quotes: Asked if it is a priority for the Giants to add a veteran cornerback, Judge said bluntly: “No, it’s not.” He added that he is more interested in the players already on the team. “Regardless of whoever’s on the street, the most important thing is developing the players on your roster,” he said . . . The Giants hit a milestone in their training camp on Wednesday when they had all 80 players on the field in helmets for the first time. They are still in Phase II of the ramp-up and were unable to compete against each other, but Judge was excited by the moment. “Meetings are necessary to make sure we know what we’re doing on the field, but practices are what it’s all about,” he said. The team will be able to practice competitively without pads beginning Friday, then in pads starting Monday. Judge said he is planning on an intrasquad scrimmage next Friday. “We’ll create situations on the field, let them play live football all the way through,” Judge said. “We have to have an opportunity to let our guys play at full speed and let them go out an experience the game and demonstrate that they can operate in it . . . We just want to get them out there and let them play.”