EAST RUTHERFORD - Once a week last season, Sam Beal would step to the front of the class and own the room.The Giants had given the cornerback a second job since he was physically unable to do the one for which they drafted him. Beal had big plans for his rookie year after being drafted in the third round of the supplemental draft, and team brass was optimistic he would learn fast enough to contribute in the secondary before too long.That never materialized, however, as Beal needed shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum, resulting in his being placed on injured reserve at the start of training camp last July.Beal still found a way to contribute, essentially serving as an advance scout for the defensive backs as they prepared for each game. And his teammates were impressed."That's where it all started, and I have no doubt what we saw out there [during Monday's OTA practice] is happening because of how [Beal] learned to be a pro last year, I have no doubt about that," Giants safety Michael Thomas told NorthJersey.com and USA TODAY Network. "His scouting reports were pretty detailed, and he'd get right up there in a room full of vets with confidence, you could tell it meant something to him. He didn't wait until he got on the field to become a better player, and that's what we're seeing."
Beal found out Monday morning that he'd be running with the first-team opposite former Pro Bowler Janoris Jenkins, and his performance did not disappoint. He showed good range and quickness during 1-on-1 and team drills, and he was involved in the best play of the session when his leaping deflection of an Eli Manning pass ended up in the arms of safety Jabrill Peppers, who sprinted the other way with an interception.TAKEAWAYS:5 observations from the Giants' first OTA practiceThe former Western Michigan star is certainly not short on confidence, and the fact remains Giants general manager Dave Gettleman took a significant leap of faith regarding his talent last year, giving up a third-rounder in last month's draft to get him."You want to be out there, but you can't let it break you," Beal said of his experience as a rookie. "I like to make plays that my teammates can feed off. I want to be one of those guys that offenses notice and defenses rally around. You're gonna know I'm there, where I am, trust me - you're gonna know where I'm at, and I can't wait for the chance to be there for this team to help on the field."At age 30, Jenkins is the highest profile veteran on the back end in a group that includes three rookie draft picks (first-rounder DeAndre Baker, fourth-rounder Julian Love and sixth-rounder Corey Ballentine) and two second-year pros in Beal and Grant Haley, among others.The Giants can only hope the competition will force them to make difficult roster decisions down the road.INJURED LIST: Left tackle Nate Solder likely out until training camp following ankle surgeryQUARTERBACKS:Inside dynamic between Eli Manning and Daniel JonesAsked for his thoughts when the Giants drafted three cornerbacks last month, Beal said: "I got some work [to do]. NYPD (New York Pass Defense), the new NYPD."The reference was to the nickname the Giants' secondary received three seasons ago on the run to the 2016 playoffs. From that group, only Jenkins remains.
Last season, Beal's film study got started on the next opponent even before the Giants hit the field for the game that week. When his report was finished, complete with analysis of tendencies, receiver likes and dislikes that he can pick up on video or just about anything else, the 22-year-old gave his presentation in the meeting room to the entire secondary."First day out there, he looked good. His movement skills were great last year when we saw him, it was just a short period of time," Giants coach Pat Shurmur said of the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Beal. "He looked good out there today. It is like anything; he is coming back. They all have to get their legs back a little bit. You saw him stumbling just a little bit. His movement skills are good, it looked like he competed. We will go back and watch the film and see how close he was in coverage but he looked pretty good."Beal believes he will put to rest any lingering questions about the stability of his shoulder, which he said is healed and back to 100 percent. His rehabilitation with the Giants' training staff was far more concentrated and intense than any previous work he'd done to strengthen his upper body in college. His offseason routine has included boxing and other exercises aimed at preventing further issues, with acknowledgement that the true test will come in training camp later this summer when he must tackle and use his physicality at full speed.Beal did make a point that, on the Peppers interception, he made the initial play by tipping the pass with his surgically-repaired right arm, insisting he felt great afterward.