What we'll learn from the Giants when they begin OTAs

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – It’s on to the third and final stage of the offseason workout program. The New York Giants enter Phase 3 on Monday, which starts to at least look like football.

It’s the first time this season most teams will be allowed to scrimmage offense vs. defense. Previously they were restricted to individual drills or “separate” team drills. There is still no live contact permitted, but the Giants will finally be running 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills. Attendance is still voluntary.

Still it’s ... something. Coaches can at least receive a semi-peek at what players (especially newcomers and rookies) can do in a live setting. They should learn more about their team beginning this week than they did during the first two phases.

So will we. Practice is open to the media on Thursday, and one day each of the following two weeks. The offseason program then concludes with a mandatory minicamp June 13-15.

Here’s what will be disclosed:

Show your cards

It’s the first look this year at a lot of players. Who gained weight? Who is in better shape? How much will the players recovering from injuries (safety Darian Thompson, defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, center Weston Richburg, running backs Shane Vereen and Orleans Darkwa) be allowed to do?

These are questions that will be answered in the coming weeks. We’ll also get an idea of some position changes (look for Mykkele Thompson at cornerback) or philosophical alterations. The Giants and coach Ben McAdoo can keep only so much under wraps as the doors to practice open.

And yes, it's voluntary. Still, we'll see which players other than cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie have spent the spring working out at home rather than the team facility.

(Note: Rodgers-Cromartie returned Monday for the start of OTAs. He did not attend the first two phases of the offseason program.)

A depth chart

Nothing is set in stone. It’s only May. The depth chart is written in sand at this time of year, Chip Kelly used to say when he coached the Philadelphia Eagles.

Got it, but we’ll get a look at how the Giants line up on offense and defense. There will be plenty of guys mixing in, but OTAs provide a general sense of who all the coaching staff sees in the mix for starting jobs or significant playing time this season. It begins in the spring.

How will the offense line take shape? Will Ereck Flowers and Bobby Hart be the first-team left and right tackles, respectively? How will recently signed D.J. Fluker spend his spring: exclusively at guard or mixed in at tackle as well? Will first-round pick Evan Engram immediately be the tight end on the first-team offense? Will B.J. Goodson be at middle linebacker in the first team base defense?

Offensive alterations

The Giants have new personnel. Wide receiver Brandon Marshall and tight ends Rhett Ellison and Engram are new toys at McAdoo’s disposal. Obviously McAdoo is not going to show any major wrinkles in the spring, but whether or not the personnel packages will be more varied in 2017 will be noticeable.

The Giants played 11 personnel (that is, three wide receivers, one running back and one tight end) on over 90 percent of their offensive snaps last season. If they plan to use a fullback this year or two-tight-end sets with any regularity, it will only make sense for them to practice it with regularity. And that begins in the spring.

These next few weeks will be telling in that regard.

Changes to program

McAdoo has said to expect some changes to the way his team operates. Their schedule, the amount of time they spend in the classroom or on the field, the way they practice and train, it all may be slightly altered.

Veteran linebacker (and also now tight end) Mark Herzlich already has said the Giants have made minor changes to the way they install plays. They also likely spent less time on the field in Phase 2 of the offseason program than the previous year.

Look for a few more of these kinds of adjustments. McAdoo and his staff took notes on how they could improve everything they did last year. They left with hundreds of suggestions. Surely more than a few will be implemented.

Who belongs

It generally doesn’t take long to realize which players belong and which don’t. The rookies co-mingled with the veterans last week, but those were mostly individual drills. These will be team drills. Which added veterans, rookies, undrafted free agents or tryout players will be significant additions? It will be evident, for the most part, by the end of the offseason workout program.