Evan Engram didn’t need to watch the replay to find out what actually happened, but that didn’t stop him from reliving his worst moment from Sunday’s loss to the Redskins.
The Giants’ tight end has struggled with drops, though this one was different. He never even got his hands on the crucial fourth-down pass from Eli Manning, which went down as one of the biggest missed opportunities from the 20-13 loss.
“I catch those in my sleep,” Engram said before the 1-7 Giants went their separate ways for the bye week. “It literally just went straight through my hands. I gotta do a better job shooting my hands to the ball and having my thumbs together. Just small things that sometimes it’s easy to get away from, but also it’s easy to get back to. Just reset and get back to the little things after stuff like that.”
The five days off will be a chance for all of the Giants to reboot after what’s been a disappointing first eight weeks to the season, Engram chief among them.
Coming off a big rookie season in which he led the Giants in targets, receptions and touchdowns, Engram was looking forward to an even better year in what was expected to be a lethal offense. He was just one of the many weapons that hoped to revive the Giants and Manning.
In the first half of the season, though, Engram has never been able to settle in. After missing time in the preseason with a concussion, he caught only two of the five passes thrown to him in the opener against the Jaguars. He was better against the Cowboys in Week 2, hauling in all seven targets for 67 yards and a touchdown. But his momentum was halted the next week against the Texans, when he was knocked out of the game with a sprained MCL, which sidelined him for three games.
“I’m a very impatient guy,” Engram said. “So I want to contribute now and make plays now. It sucks when it doesn’t happen, but also you gotta just know there’s still work to be done, still room for improvement. You gotta stay patient and hungry knowing that.”
Two weeks after he finally got back on the field, he has another break with the Giants on a bye. He already has had more time off than he wanted, so he’s itching to play again and build on his 2018 totals of 17 catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns, but understands the mental break may help as well.
“Definitely not where I want to be play-wise and not where we want to be team-wise,” Engram said. “But there’s no excuse. We put the work in.”
The Giants were 1-7 through eight games last year, too, but Engram was a bright spot. Manning had lost top wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall to injury, and was even without Sterling Shepard for four games in the middle of the season, thrusting Engram into the spotlight as a rookie. He responded by catching 64 passes for 722 yards and six touchdowns.
The big-time production made Engram’s Achilles’ heel — dropped passes — not as glaring of a problem. His team-high 11 drops in 2017, per Pro Football Focus, was an area to improve on heading into his sophomore season. Instead, they are just one more issue in an altogether frustrating year.
“It’s the small things you gotta get back to when you make those mistakes,” Engram said. “I definitely felt like I was going to be able to do a lot this year as well. But a couple injuries and slow start and struggles team-wise, it’s been kind of hard to get in that groove. The big thing is staying the course, and my opportunities will come. Just gotta make it happen.”
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