Ereck Flowers missing as Giants open voluntary minicamp
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — The questions about tackle Ereck Flowers’ future with the New York Giants are increasing as the 2015 first-round draft pick was a no-show for the team’s first voluntary minicamp under new coach Pat Shurmur.
Players do not have to attend either the organized team activities or any minicamps.
Shurmur, however, let it be known in the offseason that he would appreciate it if they attended, with new systems on offensive and defense being installed and the team coming off a 3-13 season that cost former coach Ben McAdoo his job.
Flowers has skipped everything. There are now reports the Giants are shopping him in the days leading to the NFL draft, which starts Thursday.
The former Miami product has not lived up to expectations in his first two seasons at left tackle. That forced new general manager Dave Gettleman to go out and sign New England Patriots left tackle Nate Solder as a free agent, a move that would have forced Flowers to move to right tackle.
Flowers has not given any indication why he has stayed away.
“He’s not here, so there’s not really much to say,” Shurmur said.
The coach refused to say whether he was disappointed.
“We understand that this is a program that is voluntary,” he said. “I tend to believe it is very necessary, but he’s not here. So, when he is here, we will start to talk about him.”
The Giants don’t have a lot of depth at tackle. Free agent Chad Wheeler played in 11 games with five starts as a rookie. Adam Bisnowaty started in his only game last season after being drafted in the sixth round.
If Flowers is traded, the Giants are going to have to draft a tackle or sign one as a free agent.
Odell Beckham Jr., who missed most of last season with a broken ankle, and defensive end Olivier Vernon were both at the minicamp. They skipped the minicamp a year ago.
“I think the big thing for us is our game is very simple — it’s about the ball, it’s about negotiating the ground and it’s really about man whipping man,” Shurmur said.
The minicamp, which does not entail any hitting, is more about making sure players get to know the new systems, with some throwing and receiving mixed in. The defenses can work on stripping the ball.
There was speculation that Shurmur wanted to use the minicamp to see what quarterback Davis Webb could do. The third-round pick did nothing last season, so the Giants really don’t know what they have with their backup to Eli Manning.
“I don’t think there needs to be any anxiety on his part — get trained up, come on out here, let it rip and mistakes happen in practice and you learn from them,” Shurmur said. “I think that’s why you practice, so I think you have to be careful about making a final evaluation on a guy in a three-day period here. He just needs to come out here and get as good as he can be.”
Most players said they felt they were entering this season with a clean slate.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who was suspended for a game last season after missing a practice, intends to be on his best behavior this season.
“I promise y’all that Jackrabbit says it won’t happen this year what happened last year,” he said. “There won’t be any animosity between players, no disrespecting the coach. There will be none of that. New York Giant football is back.”
Jenkins also believes fellow cornerback and 2016 first-round draft pick Eli Apple, who also was suspended for a game, will be a different player this season.
“You have to understand that he was young,” Jenkins said. “It’s a clean slate, new coaching staff and for him it’s guys like me that have to push him and help him out because I’ve been in the league so long and just help him understand that adversity is going to hit you and when it hits, you’ve just got to keep it going.”
Beckham did not take part in the afternoon practice, but fellow receiver Sterling Shepard said that was a precaution.
“I’ve been with him and have been training with him a bit and, to be honest, I forget that he got hurt sometimes,” Shepard said.