Sports

Giants turned Atlanta training facility into unofficial home

There’s no Giants logo in midfield, and Joe Judge can’t be found.

But make no mistake: The Pinnacle Performance facility in Atlanta is the epicenter of the Giants universe after organized group activities and minicamps ended mid-June and before training camp opens on Tuesday.

The connection started with Evan Engram – who had been playing football since childhood with JT Alphabet, Pinnacle’s chief performance officer – and grew, through proposals, including Andrew Thomas and Azeez Ojulari for about three up to four sessions per week. Darius Slayton and Tae Crowder also passed by.

What used to be an unofficial baseball training center has become “Giants South” – a byproduct of the team’s recent focus on drafting from the SEC, specifically Georgia (Thomas, Ojulari, Crowder) .

“You could say these guys were teammates because they had feelings for each other,” Alphabet told The Post. “Andrew and Azeez are telling stories and giving each other advice. Those two and Evan were always competing with each other. They want to qualify for the knockout round. They want to do big things this year.”

A typical workday includes a tailored session of speed training, “rhino” or “cheopard” lifting (depending on strength or speed being the end goal) with a strength coach Coy Flynn and Jake Summey, and positional exercises. Buccaneers rookie Elijah Ponder and Chargers veteran Justin Jones sometimes join the Giants crew.

The Giants' Darius Slayton (left), Andrew Thomas (second from left) and Azeez Ojulari (right) train at Pinnacle Performance with JT Alphabet performance director (back) and strength coach Coy Flynn.
The Giants’ Darius Slayton (left), Andrew Thomas (second from left) and Azeez Ojulari (right) train at Pinnacle Performance with JT Alphabet performance director (back) and strength coach Coy Flynn.
Luke Crabtree

Engram grew up in a suburb of Atlanta and reconnected with Alphabet last summer, when NFL facilities were closed for training due to the pandemic. On any given day, he can throw a football, volleyball or tennis ball in his direction. Or he can catch the multicolored three-sided HECOStix.

“I would throw them at him and while it was in the air, I would call out a color, and he had to react and catch the color I called out,” Alphabet said. “This is great for decision making and building hand-eye coordination.”

Engram made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season, but he’s led all of the NFL’s tight finishes with eight relegations and has been linked to the Giants’ unusually high turnover rates. Work is targeted at fixing those flaws as he enters his fifth and final season before free agency.

Engram has been clocked at Pinnacle consistently running 22 miles per hour, which is considered to be flying for a 240-pounder.

Alphabet said: “I see a guy focused. “He knew it was a big year for him. He’s in the best shape of his life. After a full session, Evan received 100 catches before leaving the facility. It’s ‘eating more’ every day. I think it will be a show this year. “

Thomas and Ojulari, college roommates, will both go to training camp to question their injuries to rest. Thomas had to have ankle surgery after the season after starting 15 games as an unstable rookie.

“That guy’s an odd athlete: He moves just like any other guy, he’s just so much bigger,” Alphabet said. “Ankle is ready to go. No lameness. We do steady work, all the time trying to gain strength. Huge fans have nothing to worry about that ankle. “

Ojulari slipped to the second round of this year’s NFL draft because teams were scared to scan his knee due to a high school ACL tear. But he hasn’t missed that much practice in the past two years and doesn’t need a break at Pinnacle, according to Alphabet.

Ojulari’s younger brother, BJ, a cross-country athlete at LSU, trained under Alphabet and made the recommendation.

“Azeez has been built as an NFL veteran,” Alphabet said. “The only thing for him is that he has to learn not to be too wild on the pitch. There is another way to move out there. Once he gets there, he’ll take off because he’s so explosive and powerful. “

Alphabet says it’s always looking for new methods and technologies to achieve its primary goal: Teaching athletes how to better control their bodies.

One of the Giants’ early improvement tests will be a Week 3 matchup against the Falcons.

“I’m a Falcons fan, so this is killing me,” quipped Alphabet, who has yet to change allegiance or steal the Giant’s gear. “It’s going to be very difficult when they get together.”

https://nypost.com/2021/07/24/giants-turned-atlanta-training-facility-into-unofficial-home/ | Giants turned Atlanta training facility into unofficial home

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