The Giants appear to be in the early stages of developing their next Julian Love.
Nick McCloud, who made eight starts at cornerback in 14 games he played last season, lined up at safety with the starting tackle during Wednesday’s OTAs.
McCloud was not at the last media-attended practice for personal reasons, so this was the first reveal of an under-thought-out position change involving snaps in the box and patrolling the deep middle of the field.
“I think Nick is a Swiss Army knife,” said cornerback Adori Jackson. “A guy who’s going to do what you tell him to do, and he’s going to do it at a high level. Nick never put his head down, never waved, never once I’m sad. Like ‘Coach, what do you expect me to do?’
Love earned the nickname “Duct Tape” for helping the injury-plagued Giants at safety, slot cornerback and outside cornerback in his first three seasons.
He finally became a full-time safety last season – logging a team-high 1,006 defensive snaps as well as another 220 as a special teams co-captain – and signed a two-year, $12 million free-agent contract with the Seahawks. Earned.
Replacing Love on the back end is a contest between veterans Bobby McCain, McCloud and possibly Jason Pinnock and Dan Belton whenever they return to full health.
McCloud came to the Giants from waivers just before the start of the previous season with a special-teams-first reputation, but was pressed into action during Jackson’s seven-game injury absence.
“It’s great to be able to switch him around because we can use him in different ways,” Jackson said. “I applaud Nick for being unselfish. A lot of people might be crazy or whatever, but he’s just going out there and loving the game, having fun with it, Good things happen. It gets him on the field as well.
OTA rules allow 11-on-11 drills with no live contact, but the Giants have held their 11-on-11 periods to walkthroughs in preparation for 7-on-7. Why?
“We take it out of it and teach our concepts, blocking schemes, how to take blocks, fits, how to do safety things,” head coach Brian Dabol said. “Tamp it down a little bit and make sure we get it right so that when we get to training camp — when we’re going full speed with the pads — we’ve got something to draw on.”
If you expect Dabol to be excited that the Giants have six stand-alone nationally televised games or four road games in a five-game span in September and October, plus three straight November road games, then ya Think.
Dabol said, “I’m here a day at a time man.” “Whenever we play – night, morning, Saturday, Thursday, Friday – it doesn’t matter. Just play them when they come.
There was a full attendance of veterans for the voluntary exercise, including DTS Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. This does not include running back Saquon Barkley, who has not signed his franchise tag and is not allowed to be inducted under NFL rules.
After playing with the second team’s defense last week, first-round draft pick rookie CB Deontae Banks lined up in front of Jackson with the start.