Gi­ants’ En­gram try­ing to over­come dropped passes

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - SPORTS -

EAST RUTHER­FORD, N.J. — Evan En­gram un­der­stands that he has all the tools to be a top tight end in the NFL.

The New York Gi­ants’ sec­ond-year player, the team’s first-round se­lec­tion in 2017, has the size, speed and the drive to be a star.

There’s only one prob­lem. En­gram has a propen­sity of drop­ping passes, es­pe­cially in clutch sit­u­a­tions.

En­gram caught 64 passes for 722 yards and six touch­downs last sea­son. En­gram also dropped 11 passes and vowed in the off­sea­son to work on rec­ti­fy­ing that prob­lem.

Now, in his sec­ond sea­son, En­gram has caught 17 passes for 145 yards and two touch­downs, but he has also dropped three passes.

“It’s pretty tough,” En­gram said Thurs­day be­fore the team prac­ticed in prepa­ra­tion for fac­ing the San Fran­cisco 49ers on Mon­day night.

“It’s not where I want to be. I have to put some of th­ese plays be­hind me and keep work­ing on get­ting bet­ter and stay­ing pos­i­tive.”

En­gram’s prob­lems are also mag­ni­fied be­cause the Gi­ants have a 1-7 record for the sec­ond straight sea­son.

“We just have to go out and get a win,” En­gram said. “We have to get some of the bad tastes out of our mouths. It’s go­ing to feel good to get out there on the big stage Mon­day night.”

The Gi­ants are com­ing off their bye week, which should make the be­lea­guered team feel a lit­tle bet­ter.

“I think it’s im­por­tant to put the bad things be­hind me,” En­gram said. “A cou­ple of those drops are catches that I can make in my sleep. I just want to go out there and give us enough an op­por­tu­nity to win the game Mon­day night.”

En­gram was the first rookie tight end to lead the Gi­ants in re­cep­tions. His six touch­down catches were a fran­chise record for a rookie tight end in 2017.

So the po­ten­tial is there. He just has to make sure to hold on to the ball, some­thing that coach Pat Shur­mur also re­al­izes.

“Evan is a pass-catch­ing tight end,” Shur­mur said. “I think we all re­al­ize that. But it’s im­por­tant that he catches the ball. He’s had a cou­ple of drops. But he works at it. He has worked all along at catch­ing the ball. He does a lot of drills, a lot of ex­tra work. He works hard at catch­ing the ball. He al­ways puts the drop be­hind him and con­tin­ues to work hard at try­ing to catch the ball.”

Quar­ter­back Eli Man­ning rec­og­nizes En­gram’s pas­sion for im­prov­ing.

“Evan works hard and wants to do ev­ery­thing right,” said Man­ning, who will re­main the team’s starter for the time be­ing. “He puts in a lot of work. He’s too good of a player and an ath­lete to let the lit­tle things bother him.”

Man­ning knows that the Gi­ants have had their dif­fi­cul­ties scor­ing touch­downs this sea­son.

“I feel like we’re mov­ing the ball well,” Man­ning said. “We’re get­ting yards and mov­ing the ball down the field. We just need that to trans­late into scor­ing touch­downs. It al­ways comes down to ex­e­cu­tion. We have to avoid the neg­a­tive plays. We just have to ex­e­cute bet­ter in the red zone.”

Man­ning did not want to talk about whether Mon­day night’s game against the Nin­ers might be his last as a starter this sea­son.

“I’m wor­ried about this week,” he said. “I have a job to do right now. We’re just go­ing to try to go out there and get the win this time. Sure, there’s a sense of ur­gency. We all need to get go­ing. We need to im­prove. We need to score some points. I feel like we’re close. We just have to get back on track, keep im­prov­ing and play some foot­ball.”

Bill Kostroun / As­so­ci­ated Press

Gi­ants tight end Evan En­gram warms up be­fore a game against the Red­skins on Oct. 28.

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