Larry Donnell indentified his biggest weakness and put in the time to improve in that area.
Geoff Burke/Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
After experiencing the craze behind the emergence undrafted free agent turned star Victor Cruz just a few seasons earlier, New York Giants fans couldn’t hide their excitement when undrafted free agent tight end Larry Donnell caught three touchdown passes in Week 4 of the 2014 season. That excitement wouldn’t last long. Donnell finished the final 12 games of the season with just two touchdowns and three games over with over 50 yards receiving. His lack of production in the passing game was disappointing, but it was his poor blocking that really stood out. Give Donnell credit—he looked back at the season, identified this weakness and dedicated his offseason to correcting it.
"I was trying to refine my game so I can be better in the run game. I did some things, changed it up a little bit weight-wise and all," Donnell told reporters after the Giants’ first organized team activity workout, per Jordan Raanan of True Jersey. "The big problem with me is my hands used to go too wide. People used to get their hands inside of me, inside my chest and I lost a lot of battles there."
According to Pro Football Focus, Donnell was actually one of the best pass blocking tight ends in 2014. In the run game, only four tight ends finished with a worse blocking grade than Donnell.
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According to Raanan, Donnell took up boxing and changed some of the techniques he was using in weight training. Donnell identified hand placement as the key .
"[Keeping your hands inside] it’s something you have to train yourself to do it," Donnell said.
Improving his run blocking is one way that Donnell could stay on the field. In the Giants’ final four games, Donnell was on the field for his lowest percentage of total offensive snaps since Week 6.