Will Tye caught 42 passes for 464 yards and three touchdowns last year and was the most productive rookie tight end in the NFL. So what is he capable of now that he has a clue?
It’s something Tye thought a lot about this offseason as he bridged from his cannonball introduction to the NFL to his second season with the Giants.
“They sky’s the limit,” the Stony Brook University product told Newsday on Wednesday after another strong practice at training camp. “I just want to be the greatest, I want to be the best. Why slow down? Why? If you love it that much, keep going with it. You’re only going to better. There’s no reason to decelerate.”
Tye said he hasn’t. He took barely any time off this offseason for laurel-counting and instead dedicated himself to building on what he started in 2015. He improved his footwork. He dropped his weight from 265 pounds to 259. And he stoked a confidence that he’s never had before while balancing it with the hunger that has carried him this far.
“Having that chip on my shoulder and being undrafted, you don’t have to tell me to go hard or give me a push because I’m already there,” he said. “I can see where I can go just from playing 13 games last year. Imagine playing a whole season and knowing what I’m doing, too?”
The Giants imagine it. They’re working Tye with the first unit in training camp, a megajump from last year when he was picking up the dregs of the reps in the summer and was eventually cut from the roster. Then he was brought back to the practice squad, and then he was promoted to the active roster, and the next thing anyone knew he was putting Stony Brook football on the map as its first active NFL player and becoming a key piece of the Giants’ passing game.
Through it all, Tye now admits, he had very little idea what was going on. He was basically winging it, relying on talent while his head spun.
This season is a far different experience.
“My confidence in the offense is definitely a lot better, I can play a lot faster just knowing a lot more,” he said. “I have more confidence in myself in any play that is being called.”
It also allowed him to be more relaxed this offseason, focusing on the present instead of worrying about his future.
“I feel like there wasn’t as much pressure, which is what you want,” he said, comparing this experience to last year’s when he was just trying to make a roster. “You can just go and not think about it. Knowing what you have to do to get better and improve. Staying in shape, just making sure if you take a day off the next day you push yourself even more. To keep doing it and get better at it, you have to go out there again. You can’t really miss a day.”
Many assumed Tye and Larry Donnell would be battling for the starting job, but so far in camp the Giants have found a place for both of them. They have run a lot of two-tight end sets, and Tye said he likes it not only because it gives both he and Donnell time on the field but because they complement each other.
“It creates more threats,” he said. “Him being 6-12 and me being 5-8 [they’re actually listed at 6-6 and 6-2], I can be that shifty guy and he can be the tall one you can’t cover down close to the goal line. I can run the inside route and he can be the outside guy. There are different combinations that you see coach has been trying to do. I can’t wait to see how it works in preseason games.”
As far as numbers go, Tye said the biggest one he wants this season is a big fat zero in the mistakes column.
“More catches, no drops,” he said. “To do right on every assignment. Not just say I was there, but actually finish the block, finish the run or the catch. To make more plays, really big plays.”
And, as he said, to be the best.