EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants received a sneak peek Monday of what their offense could be this season.
Wide receiver Brandon Marshall was catching passes all over the field with defenders draped on his back. Tight end Evan Engram was using his quick first step to shed defenders (in this case All-Pro safety Landon Collins on two occasions) and catch passes from quarterback Eli Manning.
This had to be what general manager Jerry Reese and coach Ben McAdoo had in mind when they signed Marshall as a free agent and selected Engram in the first round. Two new, big receivers to help an offense led by Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. that averaged only 19.7 points a game last season.
It has taken some time. Marshall and Engram started camp rather slowly and had been catching passes only sporadically until recent days.
But with Sterling Shepard (ankle) not participating in team drills and Beckham somewhat quiet, Marshall and Engram were Manning’s primary targets on Monday.
“We’re doing some good stuff, Brandon and I, getting on the same page,” Manning said. “Every day there’s something new that comes up though. A route here, a concept, just getting on the same timing. You can kind of talk about everything, but you’ve got to get in as many live reps, one-on-ones, get running different routes, getting on the same timing with things will be good.
“Same with Evan [Engram]. He’s making some plays, doing a lot of good things, but the more one-on-ones, the more situations, different things coming up every practice. There’s something to learn from it every day.”
If the Giants offensive line can hold up, they have more than enough weapons to be an explosive offense. In particular, Marshall is the big-bodied, red zone target they had been missing.
It’s reminiscent of when Manning had Plaxico Burress, the kind of guy he admitted didn’t need to be open. Manning could throw Burress open. He did that with Marshall on Monday.
“Yeah, I mean, they’re both similar height. And just smarts on football, body control, being able to go up and get the ball,” Manning said. “So yeah, I’d say some definite similarities there. Obviously Plaxico, [I] had a number of years playing with him, so I knew what he was going to do, knew how to read his body. I knew whether it was going to be a back shoulder versus a fly or a jump ball. So we need more live reps doing that.”
Marshall caught one pass near the end zone with cornerback Michael Hunter on his back. He caught another with cornerback Eli Apple hanging on his shoulders. Marshall also beat Apple and made a bobbling grab deep down the right sideline during one-on-one drills.
It’s what the Giants expected.
“The film shows, the evidence shows, year after year that the more traffic he’s in, it seems like the better he plays,” McAdoo said.
And the better it should make the Giants offense.