New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll set the tone right from the start of OTAs that the multi-week camp was not a make-or-break environment for anybody.
“Really, it’s a learning camp teaching camp,” he said before Thursday’s practice. “That’s how we approach it. No one’s gonna make the team for performance at this camp.”
During OTAs, most of the practices last less than two hours and some are even cut short if Daboll and the other coaches are pleased with what they see on the field. The focus is on the players getting comfortable with one another and the basics of the system. That means a lot of work in the classroom, studying film to understand the plays and schemes that the Giants will ask them to run.
“You know, the big thing is taking it from the classroom to the field,” Daboll said when explaining what he views as the most important part of OTAs.
“So just trying to improve every day,” echoed starting quarterback Daniel Jones. “We’re learning what everyone’s good at or what they feel comfortable doing and trying to set guys up to do those things and, you know, put us all in a position to be successful.”
However, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be changes or improvements being made. Jones mentioned that the learning focus at OTAs makes it the perfect time for the Giants to try new things, just at a more deliberate pace.
“We don’t want to skip steps or look over anything during this time of the year,” he explained. “We’re focused on continuing to evolve and change up what we’re doing, experiment with different things that may be good for us. You know, in that, we’re always kind of learning, we’re always adjusting.”
Those adjustments will come with making mistakes.
“There will be a lot of mistakes on everybody’s end, including mine,” said Daboll. “We’ll try to get better so we can be ready to go for training camp.”
Training camp, which starts in two months, was repeatedly mentioned as the touchstone in the distance. Everything the Giants are working on during OTAs is simply to ensure guys are ready to go at full speed once training camp begins. That includes being patient right now with the rookie, who Daboll expects to be well behind the others.
“I’d say they’re behind considerably, which is the same every year I’ve been in the NFL, so our job as a coaching staff is to try to get them up to speed as quickly as we can lay a foundation for training camp. They have a lot to learn in a shorter amount of time and try to get them as prepared as we can.”
For now, the pace can be slow so that the rookies and new additions can turn it on when they need to.
“Players slow down when they’re thinking a lot,” explained Daboll, “so when you’re just learning a new system you’re maybe not playing as fast as you’d like to play because you’re thinking about a lot of different things. So [we] just try to get them acclimated to our systems or our calls.”
For rookies, that means that being a sponge is the most important thing.
“Just willing to listen, willing to get better, willing to work to compete,” said Giants safety Xavier McKinney of the young players. “You know, I try to kind of get on them a little bit from time to time, just to make them go a little harder. Try to see what buttons I can push. But it’s been fun having them out there.”
However, McKinney was quick to note that this time can also be a valuable learning experience for the veterans as they adapt to their new teammates.
“Obviously, you’re able to, you know, learn from a young guy just as they’re able to learn from us as well.”
That learning and evolving is all crucial to the Giants’ hopes to build on the success they had last year. However, Daboll and the rest of the coaches and players know that championships are not won during OTAs.
“Look, it’s May,” Daboll explained. “Our standard is to come out here and work as hard as we can work. That’s what we ask of everybody in the building every day, and that’s all I expect. Just to work hard to do the right thing.”
If they can accomplish that, even at a more relaxed pace, then the Giants will be right where they want to be once things get fast.
For more Giants coverage, visit amNY Sports