Giants OTAs: Drew Lock growing more comfortable; Darius Slayton shines in return

The Giants reached the halfway point of their 10 OTAs on Thursday. Here are notes and observations from the second open practice of the spring:


Wide receiver Darius Slayton was in attendance Thursday after skipping the first six weeks of the offseason program. Slayton wanted a raise, and technically he got one. But Slayton will need to perform to earn more money, as he got an additional $650,000 in incentives added to his contract, according to ESPN.

Slayton already had $1.5 million in incentives in his contract. He would have needed to record 70 catches, 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns to collect that $1.5 million. It’s not yet known what the thresholds are to trigger the additional $650,000 in incentives.


TE Daniel Bellinger and DT Rakeem Nunez-Roches participated Thursday after missing last week’s open OTA.

TE Darren Waller (mulling retirement), TE Tyree Jackson (undisclosed), DL Jordan Phillips (undisclosed) and DL Timmy Horne (knee) weren’t spotted at Thursday’s practice. RB Gary Brightwell, who had been dealing with a hamstring injury, was waived Thursday morning. He was replaced on the roster by safety Elijah Riley, who was a core special teamer for the Steelers last season.

Injury report

WR Gunner Olszewski left early in practice with an apparent ankle/foot injury after slipping while making a cut. WR Isaiah McKenzie (undisclosed), WR Dennis Houston (undisclosed), OLB Benton Whitley (foot/ankle), ILB Isaiah Simmons (undisclosed) and CB Aaron Robinson (knee) worked on the side with trainers.


Quarterback notes

Drew Lock looked more comfortable than last week, completing 19-of-24 passes in 11-on-11 periods as the first-team quarterback. A steady diet of short throws aided Lock’s completion percentage, but he connected with wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson on a deep crossing route and hit undrafted rookie wide receiver Ayir Asante on a long touchdown. Lock still had a few misses that were way off target.

Tommy DeVito completed 8-of-13 passes with the second-team offense. His favorite target was wide receiver Miles Boykin, who tallied four catches. DeVito continues to hold the ball for extended stretches in the pocket, which was an issue last season.

The Giants continue to conduct one 7-on-7 period at the start of practice so quarterback Daniel Jones can get some live reps without a pass rush. Jones completed 5-of-6 passes on Thursday.

Jones worked with injured wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie, executive director of player performance Aaron Wellman and offensive assistant Cade Knox on a side field later in practice. Jones continues to remain on track in his recovery from a torn ACL, and coach Brian Daboll didn’t rule out the quarterback participating in 11-on-11 work this spring.


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Wide receiver notes

Slayton didn’t miss a beat in his return. He caught a crossing route from Jones in 7-on-7 and had two catches from Lock.

Isaiah Hodgins appeared to be the odd man out after Slayton’s return. Hodgins had a quiet practice after being the leading first-team receiver last week.

Wan’Dale Robinson had an active practice with five catches from Lock and two catches from Jones. Robinson lined up in the backfield and out wide, as the Giants continued to move the slot receiver around the field.

Asante has impressed early. In addition to the long strike from Lock, he caught a pass from Jones in the 7-on-7 period. Asante also tallied four catches from third-string quarterback Nathan Rourke.



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Former Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith was at practice working with the receivers. He spent time working on releases with Malik Nabers and Jalin Hyatt. Daboll said Smith will be with the team for “a couple of days.”

Depth chart notes

Andrew Thomas participated in team periods at left tackle on Thursday after being kept out of 11-on-11 work last week. Evan Neal was the starting right tackle in walk-through periods, but again didn’t participate in live reps as he recovers from ankle surgery. With fellow tackle Matt Nelson also held out of team periods, Josh Ezeudu served as the first-team right tackle.

Rookie Jake Kubas was the second-team left guard, and Jimmy Morrissey was the second-team center on Thursday. They flip-flopped with left guard Marcus McKethan and center Austin Schlottmann, who were with the third-team offense Thursday.

Ryder Anderson was the third defensive lineman alongside Dexter Lawrence and Rakeem Nunez-Roches. Jordon Riley and DJ Davidson also rotated in with the starting defensive line.

Outside linebacker Boogie Basham played a few reps at defensive tackle with the second-team defense. The 6-foot-3, 274-pounder batted down a DeVito pass at the line.

Second-round safety Tyler Nubin and third-round cornerback Andru Phillips continued to work with the second-team defense. Safety Dane Belton and slot corner Nick McCloud remained with the starters.

Daboll has anointed some rookies as starters immediately in the past. John Michael Schmitz, who was a second-round pick last year, was the starting center from the first OTA as a rookie. Last year’s first-round pick Deonte Banks was with the second-team defense in the first open OTA before joining the starters in the second OTA.

Undrafted rookie cornerback Alex Johnson worked with the second-team defense alongside Phillips and Tre Hawkins on Thursday.

11-on-11 benefits

The Giants didn’t conduct any 11-on-11 work last spring, instead exclusively going 7-on-7 in team drills. That’s been flipped this year, with all of the teamwork — except for Jones’ lone 7-on-7 period — featuring the full team.

Daboll said part of the reason he eschewed 11-on-11 periods last spring was a shortage of healthy defensive linemen. But he also recognizes the importance of getting quarterbacks as much work as possible against a pass rush.

“I think it’s good, even though it’s not full live, for the quarterback to be able to move in the pocket, feel a little bit of the rush,” Daboll said. “I think that’s helpful, and it’s good for the offensive and defensive linemen to work some of their hand technique. We don’t bull rush or run a bunch of games and things like that just because of the nature of the camp, but I do think it’s helpful for the quarterback.”

Safe to say any change that has the quarterbacks and offensive line better prepared for the season is welcomed.

Play caller

Daboll again served as the offensive play caller during Thursday’s practice. He said he won’t decide on who will be the play caller during the season until the end of training camp, but every indication since the end of last season has been that he will seize the duties from offensive coordinator Mike Kafka. Daboll calling plays during both of the open practices this spring has strengthened that belief.

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Play of the day

Running back Eric Gray caught a check-down pass from quarterback Tommy DeVito in the left flat. Cornerback Darnay Holmes, who has been playing on the perimeter this spring, stripped the ball and scooped up the fumble.

Quote of the day

“I think we all need to win if you want to be seen as a good player in this league. If you lose, the general consensus is they must all be bad players if they’re losing. If you win — two years ago when we were in the playoffs, there wasn’t this negative press. The narrative comes and goes depending on how your team does. It’s on me and him and all the rest of the guys we have to get this team going in the right direction.” — WR Darius Slayton on how QB Daniel Jones can change his perception

Next up

The Giants will conduct their sixth OTA on Friday. Their next practice open to the media is June 6.

(Photo of Lock: Luke Hales / Getty Images)

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