NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A popular topic of discussion at Giants training camp is, no surprise, the team’s revamped defense.
The Giants had a glaring weakness and plenty of money to spend under the salary cap to fix it. General manager Jerry Reese doled out tens of millions to defensive end Olivier Vernon, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, defensive tackle Damon Harrison and linebackers Keenan Robinson and Kelvin Sheppard. Big Blue also re-signed defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul and used its first-round draft pick on cornerback Eli Apple.
So how are they looking so far? It’s way too early to tell, Vernon said.
“We’ve still got to get the pads on,” the former Dolphin told WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts after the team’s first training camp practice Friday . “That’s the biggest thing. You can do anything you want when you’re not wearing no pads.
“But,” Vernon added, “getting the feel of the characters on the defense, we’ve got a lot of leadership from what I see and a lot of hard-nosed guys. I can’t wait to throw the pads on and see what we can do next week.”
The Giants’ defense last season wasn’t just bad; it was abysmal. New York ranked last in the NFL in total yards allowed per game (420.3) and passing yards surrendered (298.9). And six of Big Blue’s losses came in the final 75 seconds of regulation or in overtime.
“We want to improve on that, be top 10,” Apple said. “That’s our goal. We’re working every day in practice, working really hard just trying to get better, communicate as much as possible so we can all be on the same page and get to that next step.”
Even running back Rashad Jennings said he’s excited about the additions to the defense.
“We definitely added some beasts over there on the defensive side of the ball,” he said. “And it’s going to make us better during camp, too, because we have to compete against them. And that’s the kind of atmosphere you want in a camp.”
Vernon, who signed a five-year, $85 million contract, said he’s looking forward to playing for defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who helped lead the Giants to a Super Bowl championship in 2007.
“I like Spag, man,” Vernon said. “Spag, he’s going to switch it up, and he’s not going to copycat anybody else. He’s going to make his own thing up. … I can’t wait to play with him.”
Benigno and Roberts also interviewed kicker Josh Brown, safety Landon Collins, punter Brad Wing and guard Justin Pugh from training camp. Listen to all those interviews below: