There is no a Giants logo at midfield, and Joe Judge is nowhere to be found.
But make no mistake: Pinnacle Performance facility in Atlanta was the epicenter of the Giants’ universe after organized team activities and minicamp ended in mid-June and before training camp opens Tuesday.
The connection started with Evan Engram — who has played football since childhood against J.T. Alphabet, Pinnacle’s director of performance — and grew, through recommendations, to include Andrew Thomas and Azeez Ojulari for about three to four sessions per week. Darius Slayton and Tae Crowder passed through, too.
What used to be strictly a baseball training center has unofficially become “Giants South” — a byproduct of the team’s recent emphasis on drafting from the SEC, particularly Georgia (Thomas, Ojulari, Crowder).
“You can tell these guys are teammates because they already have a love for each other,” Alphabet told The Post. “Andrew and Azeez are telling stories and giving each other tips. Those two and Evan are always competing with each other. They want to make the playoffs. They want to do big things this year.”
A typical day’s work included an individually designed speed session, a “rhino” or “cheetah” lift (depending upon whether power or quickness is the end goal) with strength coaches Coy Flynn and Jake Summey, and position-based drills. Buccaneers rookie Elijah Ponder and Chargers veteran Justin Jones sometimes joined the Giants’ crew.
Engram grew up in the Atlanta suburbs and reconnected with Alphabet last summer, when NFL facilities were closed to training due to the pandemic. On any given day, he could have soccer, lacrosse or tennis balls thrown in his direction. Or he could be catching multicolored, three-sided HECOStix.
“I’ll throw them to him and, while it’s in the air, I’ll call out a color, and he has to react and catch the color I call out,” Alphabet said. “It’s great for decision-making and building hand-eye coordination.”
Engram made the Pro Bowl for the first time last season, but he led all NFL tight ends with eight drops, and was involved in an unusually high percentage of the Giants’ turnovers. The work is targeted to fix those lapses entering 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.
“I see a focused guy,” Alphabet said. “He knows it’s a big year for him. He’s in the best shape of his life. After a full session, Evan gets 100 catches before he leaves the facility. It’s ‘extra eats’ every day. I think it’s going to be a show this year.”
Thomas and Ojulari, who were college roommates, both will arrive at training camp looking to put injury questions to rest. Thomas had offseason ankle surgery after starting 15 games at left tackle as an inconsistent rookie.
“That dude is a freaky athlete: He moves as well as the other guys, he’s just way bigger,” Alphabet said. “The ankle is ready to go. There’s no limp. We do stability work, all the time trying to gain strength. Giants fans have nothing to worry about with that ankle.”
Ojulari slipped to the second round of this year’s NFL draft because teams were scared off by scans of his knee from an ACL tear in high school. But he never missed so much as a practice over the last two years and there are no maintenance breaks needed at Pinnacle, according to Alphabet.
Ojulari’s younger brother, B.J., a pass-rusher at LSU, already was training under Alphabet and made the introduction.
“Azeez is already built like an NFL veteran,” Alphabet said. “The only thing with him is he has to learn how not to get too wild on the field. There’s a different way to move out there. Once he gets that, he’s going to take off because he is crazy explosive and strong.”
Alphabet said he is always seeking new methods and technologies to achieve the primary goal: Teaching athletes how to control their bodies better.
One of the Giants’ early tests of improvement will be a Week 3 game against the Falcons.
“I’m a Falcons fan, so this is killing me,” quipped Alphabet, who hasn’t yet switched allegiances or pilfered Giants gear. “It’s going to be tough when they match up.”