Steve Spagnuolo looked out at a defensive meeting this week and didn’t see many familiar faces.
“I thought I was in rookie mini-camp, you know, with learning the names,” the defensive coordinator said. “That’s normally when we have a sheet of paper with everybody’s face on it. But we’ve got to work through that. There’s been some moving pieces.”
The Giants signed eight new defensive players in the month of November, including five this week. Cornerback Eli Apple admitted on Thursday that he does not even know all of the full names of his new teammates.
“They have nicknames, so I just go by that,” Apple said. “We’re just trying to get them up to speed, help them out as much as possible.”
There’s been such an influx of new players that linebacker Akeem Ayers, signed by the Giants on Nov. 14, is one of the established players at this point. Ayers, unlike some of his new teammates, has seven previous NFL seasons with four other teams to rely on, but this is his first time joining a team mid-season.
“I’m drawing from my experience for the most part,” Ayers said. “Younger guys have to get a grasp on playing in the NFL and also learn the playbook as they go. It’s tough.”
It’s tough for the coaches, too, who have to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of players they have just met.
“It’s always hard when you talk about corners and being an inside guy and an outside guy and where they play,” Spagnuolo said. “So, we’re trying to figure that out a little bit. But, we’ve got guys right now.”
It was jokingly suggested to cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie that he ask the equipment staff for a wristband with all of the names of his new teammates printed on it for reference during the game.
“That’ll change every week too, so it don’t matter, man,” he said. “It’s been a tough one. It’s tough.”
Vernon downplays Trump’s tweet
Olivier Vernon, the only Giants player who kneels during the national anthem before games to protest social injustice, was called out — though not by name — by President Trump on Twitter for doing so prior to last week’s Thanksgiving Night game in Washington. Vernon downplayed the impact it had on him.
“I didn’t really pay attention to it,” the defensive end said.
He admitted it was brought to his attention by others.
“But,” he said, “I really have nothing to say.”
Spagnuolo said it will be good to have B.J. Goodson back from an ankle sprain which sidelined him for the past four games. “It seems like an awfully long time since we’ve had B.J., an awfully long time since you go back to Dallas when he had 18 tackles,” Spagnuolo said of Goodson’s performance in the opener. “We really miss that.” Goodson was limited in Thursday’s practice and Spagnuolo said he does not expect Goodson to be an every-down player in Oakland. “It’s hard to think that somebody can step in, especially at the linebacker position, and play 70 plays,” he said. “That’s going to be tough” . . . OL Justin Pugh (back) was a limited participant in Thursday’s practice but remains a longshot to play on Sunday in Oakland . . . DT Damon Harrison (elbow) and LB Jonathan Casillas (neck/wrist) did not practice.