Corey Washington, the All-Pro receiver when it doesn't count, is at it again.
Last year as a rookie, he led the Giants through the preseason in receptions and receiving yards and was tied for the NFL lead in touchdowns.
Those numbers plus his tantalizing size (6-4) and leaping ability got him on the team as an undrafted player from a Division II college, but they couldn't do much to get him in games that actually mattered. He finished 2014 with five catches for 52 yards and a late-season benching (coincidentally or not) after he voiced his frustration at being underused.
Now he's back to making big plays when no one is looking. He's been one of the top performers in the Giants' offseason program, which continues this week and culminates in next week's minicamp. He appears to be gaining the trust of coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning. And he's hoping to finally have a chance to make some plays in real games.
"I'm not going to speak too fast, but Coach is using me a lot down in the red-zone, green-zone area," Washington said Monday after a practice in which he spent time with the first team. "I figure I can come in [as the] fourth receiver [and in] goal line and the red zone."
There might even be other opportunities.
"I'm more than a jump-ball receiver," he said. "I'm a ballplayer. I'm a football player. I make plays."
Washington is getting more of a chance this spring with Victor Cruz rehabbing his torn patellar tendon and Odell Beckham Jr. sidelined for the past week with a sore hamstring.
"He's had a nice spring," Coughlin said of Washington. "He's worked hard. He's had a good attitude. He's had a smile on his face. He's done most everything we have asked him to do."
Washington also has improved the technical aspects of his game. He had a steep learning curve coming out of Newberry College in South Carolina.
"He has a better understanding of the offense in his second year and is playing faster," Manning said. "I think he has always had the ability to make the great catch and run the go routes and fades, but [now he is] just kind of adding the complete package to his game. I think that he has had a good camp and done some good things."
Doing them in September is different from doing them in June, July or August, though. Washington learned that last year. He's hoping he doesn't need the lesson repeated.
Notes & quotes: Beckham has been doing some individual drills on the side but has not been with the team while resting his hamstring. Coughlin said he is not sure if the second-year receiver will be available for next week's minicamp . . . Linebacker Jon Beason said he has no physical limitations and that if the season were to start now, he would be ready to play. He appeared in only four games with foot and toe injuries last year . . . Manning participated in his annual blindfolded putting exhibition at the Guiding Eyes for the Blind Golf Classic on Monday. His strategy for hitting the putts without sight? "Pure luck."