NFL

Giants’ Evan Engram focused on improvement, not outside criticism

The New York Giants continue to carry the torch for tight end Evan Engram as he enters his fifth (and possibly final) season with the team.

For four seasons the 2017 first round pick out of Ole Miss has tantalized fans with glimpses of his extraordinary talent only to be anchored back down by injuries and inconsistency.

Engram is in the final year of his rookie contract and is playing for his NFL future this year. The Giants have never really figured out where he fits and now have apparently given up playing him as a traditional in-line tight end as they went and filled that role by signing veteran Kyle Rudolph in free agency in March.

The Giants are still banging the drum for Engram, a player baseball announcer Tim McCarver would call “a two o’clock hitter,” a phrase used to describe a player who looks great in practice but not in actual games.

Engram looks great in practice again so far this summer and the annual questions are arising in regard to the team’s plans and exceptions from him.

“The one thing I’ll say with Evan, I’ve always noticed from day one, is this guy comes to work and does everything that’s asked of him,” head coach Joe Judge said this week at training camp. “He does it with a positive attitude. He’s a guy we have a lot of expectations for internally. He’s a guy that we rely on for a lot of things. He brings a lot of leadership to our team. He’s a positive attitude guy. He’s someone that the team knows him through how he works and prepares that they can rely on. He’s a positive influence on our locker room.

“I’m excited to have him on the field. He’s a guy that comes out every day and just improves a little bit every day. Right now, that’s all we’re asking from all of our players. In terms of any kind of projections and what someone can do, we can all do our jobs better. We can always make sure we help each other along the way. It’s our job to give information and guidance to take that next step and that’s for every player.”

Engram made the Pro Bowl last year despite not having eye-popping numbers and committing turnovers and dropping passes that cost the Giants on the scoreboard and in the standings. On the positive side, he finally played a full season last year grabbing 63 passes for 654 yards but only scored two touchdowns and one of those was on a running play.

“It’s always a blessing to walk off this field injury-free,” Engram told reporters on Thursday at camp. “Playing last year as a season, my first full season, that was a big goal of mine before the year and to finish it off and not have anything lingering afterwards, I definitely took that in as a blessing and was really pleased with that.”

Engram appears to be in exceptional condition and is determined to finally reach his unlimited potential in 2021.

“I’m in this building 24 hours every day. Every day, I have a job to do, every day I have something to attack, something to get better at. I’m not worried about yesterday, I’m not worried about last year, I’m focused on going ahead. I’m definitely not listening to all that stuff. All the opinions I care about are in this building and my family, and I’m working really hard each and every day to attack each day and attack the 24 hours I have,” Engram said.

What the Giants have on store for him is still unknown but many analysts believe he will used more this year as a slot receiver than in the past. The he 6-foot-3, 240-pounder can help the Giants create mismatches in the passing game. He fared well playing in the first year of coordinator Jason Garrett’s offense and now feels more comfortable in camp this year.

“Second year in, it’s always going to be smoother and you can get a little bit more in the details. Having the big picture stuff down, I’m able to work on the small things each and every day. We’re working hard in the meeting room, hard on the field, walkthroughs, definitely having the system down is huge going into year two in this offense,” Engram said.

Now, if Engram can cut down on his drops and miscues, we may finally see the full effect he can have on the offense.

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