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 played last season, lined up at safety with the starting defense during Wednesday’s OTA.
McCloud was not at the last media-attended practice for personal reasons, so this was the first reveal of an under-consideration position change that included snaps in the box and patrolling the deep middle of the field.
“I think Nick is a Swiss Army knife,” cornerback Adoree Jackson said. “A guy that is going to do whatever you ask him to do, and he’s going to do it at a high level. Nick never puts his head down, never wavers, never being woe is me. Just like, ‘Coach, what do you need me to do?’”
Love earned the nickname “duct tape” for helping the injury-plagued Giants patch holes at safety, slot cornerback and outside cornerback over his first three seasons.
He finally became a full-time starting safety last season – logging a team-high 1,006 defensive snaps plus another 220 as a special teams co-captain – and earned a two-year, $12 million free-agent contract with the Seahawks.
Replacing Love on the back end is a competition between veteran Bobby McCain, McCloud and presumably Jason Pinnock and Dane Belton whenever they return to full health.
McCloud came to the Giants from the Bills off of waivers just before last season began with a special-teams-first reputation but was pressed into action during Jackson’s seven-game injury absence.
“Him being able to switch around is great because we can utilize him in different ways,” Jackson said. “I just appreciate Nick for being unselfish. A lot of guys probably would be mad or whatever it may be, but him 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 for 11-on-11 drills with no live contact, but the Giants have kept their 11-on-11 periods to walkthroughs while gearing up for 7-on-7s. Why?
“We just take that out of it and teach our concepts, blocking schemes, how to take on blocks, run fits, protection things,” head coach Brian Daboll said. “Tempo it down a little bit and make sure we get it right so when we get into training camp – when we’re going full speed with pads on – we’ve got something to draw from.”
If you expected Daboll to be excited that the Giants have six stand-alone nationally televised games or bemoan four road games in a five-game span in September and October plus three straight November road games, think again.
“I’m a one-day-at-a-time guy here,” Daboll said. “Whenever we play — night, morning, Saturday, Thursday, Friday — it doesn’t matter. Just play them when they come.”
The Giants had perfect attendance for the voluntary practice, including DTs Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. That does not include running back Saquon Barkley, who has not signed his franchise tag and is not permitted to join under NFL rules.
After playing with the second-team defense last week, first-round draft pick rookie CB Deonte Banks lined up opposite Jackson with the starters.