Giants’ 2014 schedule ranks 26th toughest in NFL

Think the Giants have a tough schedule this season? Think again.

Based on 2013 results and the fact they finished third in the NFC East last season, Big Blue has drawn the 26th toughest in the league (119-137, .465).

But that doesn’t mean they’re in for a cakewalk in 2014, either. They will be playing on national television five times, have games vs the Seahawks and 49ers and will face four of the top six teams selecting atop this year’s draft (Houston, St. Louis, Jacksonville and Atlanta).

The most difficult stretch of the Giants’ schedule comes in November after their Week 8 bye:

Week 9: Monday, Nov 3rd vs. Indianapolis (MNF)
Week 10: Sunday, Nov 9th at Seattle
Week 11: Sunday, Nov 16 vs. San Francisco
Week 12: Sunday, Nov 23rd vs. Dallas, Nov. 23 (SNF)

Three of the four are at home, but the most difficult game is away at Seattle after a short week. That trip is only one of four out of the Eastern Time Zone and the only cross-country jaunt. The Giants play three games in Central Time: Dallas, Nashville and St. Louis.

Giants will open season at Detroit on Monday, Sept. 8

The Giants will open their season on Monday Night Football.

New York will play at the Detroit Lions on Monday, September 8 (Vacchiano, April 23).

The Giants will have a bye after Week 7, have another Monday night matchup with Indianapolis and play the Eagles and Cowboys on Sunday nights, according to the report.

The full schedule will be released on Wednesday night. For the moment, here is the full schedule without the times, which are yet to be confirmed:

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Injured Giants rounding back into shape

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

The Giants’ 2013 season was one of insult and injury. They’ve gotten over the insults, given themselves a facelift and now are working their way back from the injuries. Yesterday, many of those players waxed optimistic about their health for the 2014 season.

“No doubt, no doubt. I’m going to go out there and play the game like I was 21 again. This whole offseason I’ve just been training and thinking that I want to get back on the football field. It’s coming.” – DE Jason Pierre-Paul on if he’ll be the player he was before back and shoulder ailments slowed him down.

“I’m 100 percent, ready to go. My knee feels great. I’m just excited to be back in this building, back smelling this grass again and being around you beautiful people so I’m excited.” – WR Victor Cruz, recovering from knee surgery.

“Right now I’m trying to be healthy for the season, I’m looking forward to getting cleared and being ready to go for training camp and OTAs so that’s basically it…the doctors are giving me limitations on certain things for right now just to help the healing process speed up.” – RB David Wilson, who is rehabbing from neck surgery.

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Thurmond lowers the ‘boom’ in first media session

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

“I’m the best slot corner in the league. I’ll say that for sure.” - Giants CB Walter Thurmond.

Last season, the Seattle Seahawks’ secondary dominated opponents en route to a Super Bowl championship. Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas, Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond formed the “Legion of Boom,” shutting down the league’s best passing attacks on a weekly basis.

ThurmondThurmond is now a Giant, and in his first rap session with the NY beat pool yesterday made that bold statement printed above. He’s new. In time, he’ll realize his whereabouts.

The truth is, Thurmond could very well become the best at what he does, but he’s not there yet. Last year, he registered just one INT to go along with a modest 33 total tackles. By contrast, the Eagles’ Brandon Boykin had six INTs (Kempski).

One can’t help but to be optimistic about the Giants’ revamped secondary that includes players such as Antrel Rolle, Prince Amukamara, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Stevie Brown.

“We have the potential to be the best in the league,” added Thurmond. “That’s going to come down to our preparation now, really understanding how we all play in our different talent sets and stuff like that and really moving forward and really challenging each other during practice. That’s where it starts during that competition in practice. That just transfers over to the game. If one person makes a play, I know for sure the next person will make that play. You just rise to the level of your competition. I think we’re all capable of that.”

The time for talk will be over soon. We’ll see if Thurmond can live up to his boasts.

Wednesday Quotebook: Eli, Rolle, Jennings

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

QB Eli Manning met the media on Tuesday sporting a walking boot to protect his surgically-repaired left ankle. The big question: When will he be able to take the field again?

“I just don’t know,” Eli said. “Obviously I’d like to be but we just have to see kind of what the process is and see how quickly I can heal and what the trainers and everyone, how quickly they want to push me.”

Manning is expected to start running again the end of May, but nothing is certain. He was asked if Giant fans should be concerned about the ankle and his return.

“I think that was kind of the reason for doing this at this time, to prevent any uncertainty. For me and for the Giants organization, fans as well, it’s to go ahead and do this where it’ll give me plenty of time to heal and be 100 percent healthy for the season.”

Safety Antrel Rolle commented on the changing dynamic in the Giants’ locker room: “I recognize a lot of faces. Some new, some old. Faces change, goals don’t.”

He is “excited” about what the Giants have done with their roster this offseason, but the excitement was tempered by the news that teammate Will Hill failed another drug test.

“We don’t know what’s going to take place with that yet,” said Rolle. “We’re just here to support Will and make sure we keep his spirits up high. Whatever happens with the league office and obviously with Will Hill has to take its course. I’m not really going to speak on the matter if he’s not here. We’ll hit that once that time approaches.”

He was asked if it was tough to see a close friend and teammate going through such a difficult time…

“That’s always tough. Will Hill is a phenomenal guy, not only an athlete but also a great guy and a great teammate. He’s like a little brother to myself. Obviously you don’t like to hear those things, especially… my main concern is Will Hill. Not so much even the Giants. My focus is Will Hill. Like I said, we’re just going to keep on encouraging him and embracing him and lift his spirits up and hopefully it’s nothing.”

But the buzz is that Hill may get hit with a minimum suspension of 6-8 weeks. On the back end of that, the Giants, who are rumored to be “livid” with Hill, are set to cut the cord on him.

RB Rashad Jennings, who was one of the Giants’ big ticket free agent signings last month, was asked what he can bring to the Giants’ offense…

“Something I always pride myself on is being a complete back. That’s never having to come off the field. First down, second down, third down, fourth-and-short, goal line, pass protection… just molding and perfecting my craft of becoming a complete back is something that I’m going to continue to strive for as long as I’m in the NFL. What I bring to the table is completion.” 

2014 Regular Season sked to be released tonight

The 2014 NFL schedule will be released on NFL Network,, and NFL Mobile from Verizon on Wednesday, April 23 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

NFL Total Access: Schedule Release ‘14 will include reports and interviews from Seattle, where the season will kick-off on September 4, and Arizona — the site of Super Bowl XLIX. The show will also feature reporters, guests and players at a handful of additional remote locations around the NFL, weighing in on the 2014 schedule—the road map to Super Bowl XLIX.

Giants 2014 Opponents

Home: Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington, Arizona, San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Indianapolis

Away: Dallas, Philadelphia, Washington, St. Louis, Seattle, Detroit, Jacksonville, Tennessee

Giants Preseason Schedule:

Sunday, Aug 3 @ 8 p.m. vs Buffalo at Canton (Hall of Fame Game – NBC)
August 7-10 vs. STEELERS TBA
August 16 at Indianapolis 7 p.m.
August 22 at Jets 7:30 p.m.
August 28 vs. PATRIOTS 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday Afternoon Notes: JPP “like he’s 21 again”

DE Jason Pierre-Paul reported to QDTC 15 pounds less than what he weighed in 2013. (Raanan)

From Rotoworld: Pierre-Paul played at 285 last year. He’s still rehabbing back and shoulder injuries but said he’s “very” healthy and plans to “play the game like I’m 21 again.” JPP avoided offseason surgery and should be 100 percent for minicamp and training camp. He has just 8.5 sacks the past two seasons. Entering the final year of his contract, we expect a major bounce-back from the 25-year-old.

OT Will Beatty is ahead of expectations but cannot confirm if he’ll be ready for the season. (Vacchiano)

CB Walter Thurmond says he the best slot corner in the league. (Stapleton)

S Stevie Brown expects to be on the field for OTAs. (Rock)

RB David Wilson also expects to be cleared to participate in OTAs next month. (Orr)

Will Hill after scoring the game-tying TD vs the Lions Sunday (NYGiants)

Will Hill failed drug test, facing suspension

Safety Will Hill failed another drug test and will face another suspension (Garafolo, April 22).

Hill could face a year-long suspension, but likely to be six to eight games (Vacchiano, April 22). He plans to appeal (Orr, April 22).

The suspension will likely cost him his career with the Giants (Vacchiano, April 22).

The Giants have been informed of the failed test.

Hill has been suspended in each of the past two seasons for failed tests (Orr, April 22).

Hill played in 12 games with the Giants in 2013, with two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown. He had 60 tackles.

John Fennelly, Lead Writer

Well, this doesn’t surprise us at all. We felt this was coming. Does this change the Giants’ draft strategy? Maybe.

I mentioned this last week when I mocked HaHa Clinton-Dix to the Giants, but HCD is becoming a hot commodity and may not be available for the Giants at No. 12.

Hill has been slowly blowing up his career since his college days at Florida. He can’t seem to steer clear of trouble and continues to make curious choices. Should the Giants lose Hill for the season (translation: he’s done as a Giant), they will surely seek to find a replacement but this is not a very good time to be safety-hunting. The market is bone-dry.