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Giants tight ends are quietly making plays at training camp

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Lost in the brilliance of Odell Beckham Jr. and the emergence of Sterling Shepard have been the New York Giants tight ends. Larry Donnell and Will Tye, last year’s starters, have flown under the radar.

It’s not as if they’re not making plays. Every day it seems Donnell, Tye and even Matt LaCosse are catching balls with the first-team offense. But with the reps split between the three, there haven’t been many days with dominant tight end performances.

Don't confuse that with the Giants' tight ends not making any plays.

On the very first play of team drills on Tuesday, Donnell made a diving catch down the right sideline. He caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Eli Manning in 7-on-7 drills.

Tye served as a quick-hitting safety outlet for Manning on a blitz later in practice. Tye and LaCosse each had a pair of catches during team drills. Donnell corralled three passes.

It served as a reminder that the Giants may have their deepest group of tight ends in recent years. Donnell, Tye and LaCosse have all looked good as receivers this summer. They have looked serviceable as blockers. Newly signed Will Johnson and rookies Jerell Adams and Ryan Malleck round out the group that tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride recently called the most competitive he’s seen.

What the Giants have been looking for from Tye is to play with a lower pad level. It’s something coach Ben McAdoo and Gilbride have been preaching.

“Will Tye, he's been getting some good reps,” McAdoo said after Tuesday’s practice. “Again, we're talking to Will about keeping his pads down a lot, and playing faster. We expect him to take a big jump for us.”

Donnell is trying to get back to full speed. He fractured his neck last season and the Giants thought he was playing a little slow in the spring. He’s been playing faster this summer, and he was moving well on Tuesday. Donnell has regularly been making plays, even if they still end with him on his back.

It’s going to put the Giants in an enviable position. They have multiple tight ends who can be quality targets for Manning.

No wonder the Giants are using so many two-TE sets in practice. They’ve also been moving their tight ends around. Tye began 11-on-11 drills lined up out wide as a receiver. This isn’t unusual these days at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Defense gets revenge

After getting shredded on Monday, the Giants defense looked much better during a hard, physical two-hour-plus practice on Tuesday. All three defensive teams stopped the offense from scoring in the final two-minute no-huddle drill. The defense also won the end-of-practice pass-rushing competition by a score of 4-1.

Attendance

The Giants experienced a slew of injuries for the first time this summer. Wide receiver Victor Cruz (groin) was shut down at practice. Linebacker Keenan Robinson (groin) and safety Nat Berhe (hamstring) were also sidelined. Berhe participated in individual drills and his injury is not believed to be serious. Robinson was not at practice. He’s competing for the starting middle linebacker position. Safety Landon Collins was also checked by the medical staff after being kicked in his lower left leg. He left practice but later returned.

Defensive tackle Jay Bromley (ankle) and linebacker J.T. Thomas (hamstring) remained on PUP.

Other observations

Defensive end Kerry Wynn had a strong practice. He made several plays at left defensive end against Marshall Newhouse when Jason Pierre-Paul was on the sideline with a stinger. … Wide receiver Tavarres King keeps making plays. He had a diving touchdown reception Tuesday on a pass from Ryan Nassib just inside the pylon. … Nassib had a rough afternoon. He was holding the ball too long and missed some throws. He also fumbled in the two-minute, no-huddle period to lose the drill for the second-team offense. … Leon Hall looked good again as the slot cornerback. He’s come in and instantly made an impact. … Starting outside cornerback Janoris Jenkins had some rough moments. He was beat by Beckham in one-on-ones, was flagged for a penalty deep downfield in 11-on-11 drills and allowed a touchdown reception to Roger Lewis Jr. in 7-on-7s. … The Giants again used a bunch of formations with four cornerbacks (rookie Eli Apple, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Jenkins and Hall) on the field together.