His top student right now is Kevin Boss, the talented, underused successor to Shockey who has been fighting through some injury issues the past year.
Pope was under the interview tent at the Indian Quad the other day discussing his newest class of students. He is a man who keeps a low profile and does not mince words. He seemed generally optimistic about the Giants' TEs this year.
Q: How about the competition behind Kevin [Boss]?A: We have three B's and a BC. We have Boss. We've got Beckum and we've got this young kid from Ohio State (Jake Ballard) that we signed as a free agent. Then we have Bear Pascoe, who comes to us from another team. Then we have Chandler who was here a year ago. Went to Dallas and then came back to us. The kid, Jake, from Ohio State, studied some things in the spring. Unfortunately, because they're on a different system, he wasn't able to come for most of the minicamp, OTAs and stuff. But he caught up quickly. He's a very bright kid. I'm very anxious. The fun part of this job for coaches that really enjoy coaching is to try to put the team together. To try to take the young guys and grow them. Some of them we don't know very well at all. You can't judge these guys without shoulder pads. We don't know that much about some of them until we see these pads on them in a couple of days. It's going to be fun to watch and challenging. No one around here is anywhere close to pleased with the way things finished. We absolutely have a rock in our shoe about this thing getting underway.
Q: How about Beckum. You guys have had trouble finding a spot for him.A: We did a lot of work in the spring, trying to place him in the offense. He has to be, with his skill, his pass receiving ability, and his speed, a little bit more out in space. But you can't do that totally with him. You have to put him in. Otherwise they're going to play pass when he's in and they're going to play run when he's out. So we have to be able to develop him, which he's never really done because he's only played in a two-point stance. He has to be able to grow into being able to block someone at the end of the line of scrimmage or block as a fullback around the edges. He's aware of that. He's totally aware of that. I've talked to him a great deal about it and he knows that has to be the case in order for him to help the team.
Q: Did he make progress in that regard?A: Yes he did. His shoulder is completely well. He should be ready to go. So we're very anxious to get the pads on. He does need blocking training. He just never has really had to do that. His attitude is good. He's strong. You can see it in his upper-body. His strength development has improved and I've monitored him in the summer. He's worked.
Q: Talking about blocking training, you had to do that a little bit with Kevin too?A: Yeah. Most of these guys that came out of the space positions, the pass orientated offenses you just have to start over with them. If they haven't played inside, next to the tackle, it's a challenge to start from scratch with them. You gain some advantage because they're mature, they learn quicker, they can understand what you're talking about and you can give them good pictorial books of what you expect from them. We have had a number of guys play here that have been pretty darn good at that. They're easy to follow along in that trail of blockers that we've had here. It's a real good model for them, too, if they pace themselves