This time around, Engram noted, things predictably are slowing down and that has allowed him to take another step in his development.
A first-round pick a year ago, Engram was a good downfield threat for the Giants. In 15 appearances of which 11 were starts, the tight end had 64 receptions for 722 yards with six touchdowns. He proved to be valuable in the red zone and also in stretching things down the field. These were all certainly skills that he showed in Ole Miss as a multi-year starter for the SEC program.
But there were struggles a year ago including some drops as well as a continued learning curve with his blocking, an area that Engram admitted in the past he needs to continue to develop. But this second go-around of offseason workouts, including Organized Team Activities (OTAs), has Engram pointed in the right direction.
There’s a trickle-down effect, Engram emphasized, of this being his second offseason with the Giants.
“The thing I’ve noticed, just being out here, going full-speed, is that the game is a lot more slowed down. The game has slowed down a lot,” Engram said.
“And that’s allowing me to kind of dig deeper into my bag of route techniques, or getting open and being able to focus more on the run game and getting stronger and just getting more comfortable out there. Last year, I kind of was, head on a swivel a lot, the game was so fast and I wasn’t used to it. But just having a year under my belt and kind of getting thrown into some tough situations, last year definitely helps slow the game down and allowed me to kind of focus on a lot of the little things and enhance my talents to be a better player.”
The transition, though, does include some challenges.
For the second time in as many years, Engram has a new head coach with the Giants. And while head coach Pat Shurmur has been known to utilize tight ends effectively in the passing game in the past, there still is a learning curve.
A couple weeks ago, Shurmur was asked how he might use a pass-catching weapon like Engram. The answer seemed to embrace Engram’s strength down the field, with Shurmur saying, “you can detach him and extend him like a wideout, so we’re going to try to use him that way if we can.”
That certainly is welcome news for Engram’s assimilation to the offense. But, this is still a new offense with a new language and a new playbook. While certain things have slowed down for Engram this year, there is still an awful lot that he will need to grasp this offseason. Included in this is Shurmur’s expectations for his tight ends in the passing game.
“I think about it every day. Especially when I get up here and go to work with the team,” Engram said. “Just [to] kind of improve on some things and take my game to the next level. So, I’m really excited. I’m really excited about becoming a better player that’s going to help this team win a lot more games.”