EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The old theory on how to develop young NFL quarterbacks was to throw as much as possible at them right from the beginning. Coaches wanted to see how much they could handle and to get them used to feeling overwhelmed.
"In a former life, way back when, what you did with the rookies -- this was like shock treatment," Giants head coach Pat Shurmur said on Friday. "You blew them up physically, emotionally, mentally and then by the time Monday came around, they're like, 'Holy smokes.'"
Anyone who remembers Eli Manning's first rookie mini-camp with the Giants knows that approach could lead to short-term disaster, even though coaches were sure it fostered long-term success.
Regardless, when it comes to new Giants quarterback Kyle Lauletta, Shurmur's approach this weekend at the Giants' rookie mini-camp figures to be much different than that.
Even though he conceded that the mental workload he plans to give Lauletta "is way more than anyone else is getting," Shurmur said this weekend will be treated more like an orientation for his fourth-round draft pick out of Richmond. The jump from the Colonial Athletic Association to the NFL figures to be difficult enough. The Giants won't need Lauletta to play immediately, so he has time to figure everything out.
That's why compared to what used to happen in the old days, Shurmur says he'll take things slow.
"I think what you've seen is, is what you're trying to do is orient the guys, get them up to speed, get them going, challenge them physically and mentally and then let them go out there and show you what you can do," Shurmur said. "I've taken tests before where you look at the first question and you say, 'This isn't going to work out well.' But I've taken tests, too, where you answer two or three right and things go well. So that's what you look for."
In other words, he plans to challenge the 22-year-old quarterback while giving him at least a chance to succeed. Why overwhelm a quarterback to the point that Manning was at back in 2004, when he couldn't follow the play calls and was so over-thinking things that he was firing passes into tackling dummies. That didn't inspire a confidence in anyone -- particularly in himself.
From what Shurmur could see, Lauletta had a confidence on Day 1 that he knew what he was doing and belonged on an NFL field. And that's not always easy for a quarterback who has to face his teammates knowing and feeling like he's in total command.
"Yeah, the quarterback the first time doing anything, he is in charge of everything and so certainly there is more on his plate," Shurmur said. "But from what I could tell by just watching him function in the walk through, I think he's got a good feel for what he's going to need to do."
Lauletta certainly sounded like he had everything under control, and that the jump from the Richmond Spiders to the Giants wouldn't be too big. Even after his first look through the Giants' playbook he said "nothing seems too much or overwhelming to me."
Still, he knows that for a young quarterback that could change quickly and that the pressure will soon be dialed up.
"Absolutely. I think that's the nature of the position," he said. "The quarterback has to be the leader of the group and he has to be intelligent, he has to know the offense and be able to help guys get lined up and that sort of thing. So (I'm) just going through the playbook and trying to learn it as best I can right now. The coaches do a great job. We install it slowly. They don't give us too much so we just focus on what they give us at first and just take good notes. I've done that throughout college and just continue to do that here.
"I mean all I can do is come in here and learn and develop as best I can."