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Giants' Joe Judge proud of his players' initiative during pandemic

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones passes the football during

Giants quarterback Daniel Jones passes the football during training camp at Quest Diagnostics Training Center on July 27, 2019. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Giants were unable to practice at their facility this offseason, but some players were able to get together for informal workouts. That included sessions in Texas where Daniel Jones and many of his receiving targets gathered in recent weeks.

“I like the initiative the players took, that they wanted to kind of push forward and get some things together,” head coach Joe Judge told Newsday. “I think that’s great for team building. I think Daniel did a really good job as far as making it an emphasis for he and his teammates to get together.”

Such workouts do come with risks, especially this spring. When the offseason program began under a pandemic, Judge said he would have been hesitant to put his own sons on a plane to travel and felt queasy about making his players do so. When it came to their traveling in June, though, Judge seemed to have come to terms with it.

Not that he had much sway in it anyway.

“We weren’t involved at all in the organization of that so as far as our comfort level, that’s kind of irrelevant,” he said. “It’s kind of like if they took a vacation to Brazil. We don’t have a say on that one either. It’s a voluntary spring and these guys decided they wanted to get together somewhere. That’s something they facilitated themselves.”

Baker on the bubble

One player who was not part of the majority of the team’s official voluntary program was cornerback DeAndre Baker, who was arrested in mid-May and charged with four counts each of armed robbery and aggravated assault with a firearm. Despite being freed on bond, the Giants advised him to focus on his legal matters and avoid the team meetings.

“All I’m going to say on that one is that he is currently on our roster,” Judge said. “I’m not going to comment on anybody’s legal status at any point. It’s an ongoing legal investigation."

Baker has maintained his innocence. His attorneys have said they expect the charges to be dropped, but so far they have not been. Judge would not say whether Baker will be invited to training camp in late July if his legal status remains unchanged.

Giant steps

Because the NFL has yet to establish guidelines for the return of players to training camp, which could include a period of quarantine, Judge said he left his team with this advice: “Be agile in your travel . . .  Whatever protocols we get from the league, we have to be able to turn around and adjust on the fly,” Judge said. "We have to be able to either get back here early or be in position to quarantine or whatever the league comes out with, we have to be ready to meet those protocols so we can get started for training camp.” . . . One of the more intriguing position battles in camp will be center, and Judge said it will be “wide open” between veteran Spencer Pulley, tackle Nick Gates and rookie Shane Lemieux. “There will be a number of guys who we will work in there in the mix and see how they develop and come out of this training camp,” Judge said.

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