The firsts keep piling up for Joe Judge.
First press conference. First introductions to his players. First Zoom meeting with his players. First virtual offseason program. First actual on-the-field training camp practice.
Last week, his first free-agent waiting game as a head coach culminated in the signing of defensive back Logan Ryan. Previously, as an assistant and later special teams coordinator with the Patriots, Judge was privy to some, but not nearly all, of the machinations involved in biding time as the price tag drops.
“I’d say there’s a little bit more foot-tapping when you’re the assistant or the coordinator and you don’t have every piece of information going on at the time,’’ Judge said. “Sometimes you feel like you’re in the dark. But when there’s something you need to know, you get informed.’’
Judge is in the know with everything there is to know with the Giants, which is why what happens next is another untraveled road for him. He has sent players packing this summer, but nothing to the extent of what goes down Saturday, when his roster is slashed from 80 down to 53.
It is always a jolting experience when such personnel turbulence takes place. Judge was part of it for eight years in New England. But never like this. These are the Giants’ cuts, of course, but they are also Joe Judge’s cuts.
“That’s the unfortunate part of the business and that’s the reality for every coach and player in the NFL,’’ Judge said. “It’s a not an easy thing to do. No one likes to sit there and tell a player that they are going have to move on from them on the roster at that point in time. It’s not a fun part of the job, it’s not something you enjoy. You try to give the player as much information as they can use going forward. Something they can improve on in their own game, something you felt was a strength of theirs that they can really make sure they keep strong and highlight going forward.
“As well, you remind the player it’s important to stay in shape, they have been in our system. We have familiarity with them. There is going to be a lot of movement in the early part of the year as well as throughout the year with both the 53 roster and the practice squad itself. You try to encourage the player on what they can do to improve themselves professionally as well as stay in shape and stay ready. Because when those phone calls happen, they happen fast.’’
True enough, several players Judge informs are cut on Saturday a day later will get signed to the expanded 16-player practice squad.
Discussions as to the makeup of the roster took place throughout training camp and intensified after Thursday’s situational scrimmage — the final audition for so many players trying to be included on Judge’s first Giants roster.
“It’ll be busy,’’ Judge said. “We just want to make sure we do all of our diligence to get every player the right evaluation, to think long-term in terms of what this team is going to be like throughout the season, what meets our needs, where our depth is. Ultimately, we’re looking to keep as many good players in our program as possible. That’s true for our 53-man roster, the practice squad, and whatever other means we have. It’s going to be busy, but we’ve done a lot of leg work on the front end, giving everybody a fair opportunity every day. We just want to make sure we take our time to review everything and make sure we make the right decisions.’’
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