New York Giants: Larry Donnell Needs to Step Up
By Michael Stewart
With the emergence of Will Tye last season making the all-rookie team and the drafting of TE Jerell Adams in the 6th round of the 2016 NFL draft, TE Larry Donnell will have an uphill battle on his hands in securing the starting TE position.
Donnell career was in jeopardy last season as he suffered a neck injury during the loss to the New Orleans Saints. Prior to his injury on November 1st, Donnell had 29 receptions and 223 yards to go along with his 2 TD’s. In 2014, Donnell had his best season with the Giants by catching 63 receptions for 623 yards and 6 TD’s. Unfortunately for Donnell, he is becoming an injury liability over the last couple of years and the Giants management could be viewing this season as his make or break season.
Currently; Donnell’s main competition for the TE job is last season’s UDFA Will Tye and 6th round pick Jerell Adams out of South Carolina. All three players possess different qualities that the Giants management like as Will Tye is a bit undersized, but performed well enough in 2015 (42 rec/464 yards/6 TD’s) to make the all-rookie team.
Jerell Adams appears to have the most upsize out the three, however; he is a rookie and he will still need to adjust the faster pace in the NFL. Rounding out the TE corp. are Matt LaCosse and Ryan Malleck who both figure to be long shots to not only start, but to make the 53 man roster.
Final Thoughts: There are two important factors for Donnell that must come into play in training camp right away for him to be taken seriously for the starting TE job. The first and most important factor is staying healthy and the second is producing on the field whenever he is given the chance; whether in practice or during preseason games. I was informed by someone in the Giants organization that the team is still high on Donnell; however; they are not going to wait much longer to see if he can develop into that TE that they have envisioned him to be.
It’s hard to gauge if new Head Coach Ben McAdoo and Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan will employ many two TE formations when you have WR’s such as OBJ, a healthy Victor Cruz and rookie Sterling Shepard on the field. We are a long way from opening day and a lot could happen between now and then, so the battle at TE could be decided either early or possibly by the last game in pre-season. Either way, the TE position is wide open and perhaps Donnell can stay healthy enough to show management that he is the man for the job.