Feel-good story Travis Rudolph one of standouts at Giants rookie minicamp

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants ran through the first of two rookie minicamp practices on Friday. There were 66 players -- including their entire 2017 draft class -- who were participating and trying to learn the playbook while simultaneously impressing the coaches.

Some likely succeeded more than others.

It was, well, rookie minicamp, and the first day at that. Everything that occurred should be taken with a grain of salt. Players are nervous and trying to digest a ton of information. It effects the quality of play.

“Nobody was moving too fast out there,” coach Ben McAdoo said of Friday's practice. “There was a lot of thinking going on.”

That doesn’t mean that some plays weren’t made. These standouts made a few.

Standout 1: WR Travis Rudolph -- The Florida State product had perhaps the most impressive practice of all. He caught a deep pass from quarterback Steve Cluley down the right sideline for a long touchdown during team drills. He also made a nice diving catch and another grab when he reached back and corralled an off-target pass from third-round pick Davis Webb that was thrown significantly behind. Randolph isn't a burner but he showed an ability to get open. It was a strong day for the undrafted free agent who is best known for sitting next to an elementary school boy with autism last year who normally sat alone during lunch.

Standout 2: RB Johnathan Gray -- The former University of Texas running back was out of football last year after tearing his Achilles prior to the draft. He was at Giants camp on a tryout and seemed to have regained some of that burst. Gray moved well and had a strong day catching the football out of the backfield. He caught one screen pass during team drills where it would’ve gone for a long gain. He also caught several other passes out of the backfield and looked to be the best running back on the field.

Position Updates

--Undrafted free agent Chad Wheeler (USC) played left tackle. That’s where he played almost exclusively at USC. Wheeler also was hanging around after practice asking questions and receiving instruction from assistant offensive line coach Lunda Wells. That's the way to make a positive impression.

-- Sixth-round pick Adam Bisnowaty started his Giants career at right tackle. He played mostly left at Pittsburgh, but said he’s played some right tackle and guard in the past. The Giants said they would start him at tackle.

-- Running back Jacob Huesman was lined up at times as a fullback. Yes, a fullback. The Giants used one of those. Undrafted free agent Shane Smith also took snaps as a fullback, a position the Giants didn’t use last season after Will Johnson and Nikita Whitlock were lost for the season.

-- Former Australian Football League player Joel Wilkinson received a tryout at safety. His first crack at American football came last year as a cornerback for the Arizona Cardinals.

-- Helva Matungulu spent some time last year with the New York Jets as a defensive lineman. The Giants are trying the former Western Carolina player as an offensive tackle. He’s an interesting project at 6-5, 296 pounds. He also has an interesting backstory.


-- On the first snap of team drills, Webb hit first-round pick Evan Engram on a quick pass near the right hash for a 5-yard gain. Engram then burst upfield in the non-tackling drill. (Note: They’re all non-tackling drills at minicamps and OTAs.) Engram's speed was obvious.

-- Running back Wayne Gallman dropped a screen pass early in practice and bobbled another later in the day. The scouting report on Gallman says he normally catches the ball well out of the backfield. So, for now, let’s chalk it up to nerves on the first day of school.

-- Wide receiver Kevin Snead (5-9, 165) was really throwing himself around during special teams drills. The effort was impressive. Snead is a tryout player from Carson Newman.

-- There were more than a few fumbles during the traditionally sloppy workout. Gotta protect the Duke. The Duke is like a bar of gold, as McAdoo would say.