Evening Notes: New CBA Ratified, Rocky Bernard Returns, And More
Well, it looks like Tom Coughlin got his wish. After a tumultuous offseason hampered by the lockout and a slow start to training camp without the entire Giants team practicing, the new collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the players has been ratified. That means all players including unrestricted free agents are available to report to practice. All Giants but Prince Amukamara and Osi Umenyiora are expected to practice this evening.
Here are some other items to go over that no one saw coming as well.
DT Rocky Bernard has re-signed with the Giants. Per the Star-Ledger:
"Six days after cutting the veteran defensive tackle upon failing to reach an agreement on a pay cut, the team brought Bernard back.…The team waived undrafted rookie defensive tackle Martin Parker, who was having his lower leg wrapped at the end of Monday’s practice."
Bernard had a lousy 2009 campaign but improved dramatically in 2010 in all areas, and the Giants were able to regain that central push to their defensive line in part thanks to Bernard’s improvement. With Martin Parker waived, the Giants apparently felt they needed more depth at this position with the only veteran on the roster being Chris Canty. I was intrigued to see Marvin Austin and Linval Joseph get a legitimate shot to start outright this season, with Bernard back in the picture though I’m not sure that’s realistically going to happen.
WR Victor Cruz impressing Kevin Gilbride
With Steve Smith on the mend, there is a slot reciever position up for grabs behind Mario Manningham and Hakeem Nicks. Domenik Hixon, Jerrell Jernigan, and Michael Clayton are options there — but when asked Kevin Gilbride had a different name in mind to take over that #3 role. via Giants 101:
"When asked who is the early leader for the open slot, offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride said: “Victor Cruz looks pretty good.” The job is Cruz’ to lose."
Reports out of camp are saying both Hixon and Cruz are back at 100%, with Cruz looking to have gotten even faster and more elusive than last year. It will be dicey without the presence of Steve Smith to rely on in 3rd down situations, but there appear to be plenty of interesting options for the Giants here at the #3 slot spot. Can’t wait to see more this preseason.