EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — This was supposed to be the season New York Giants tight end Evan Engram lived up to the hype.
The 2017 first-round draft pick had shown flashes in his first three seasons, only to be slowed by injuries — again and again.
All that was forgotten in training camp. Engram made one big play after another in an NFL camp overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic. He was making some have visions of former Giants stars Mark Bavaro and Jeremy Shockey running toward the end zone.
Two games into the season, Engram is an enigma.
He dropped the first pass thrown his way against the Steelers and finished the game with two catches for 9 yards.
Against the Bears this past weekend, No. 88 was invisible for almost the first three quarters. He was targeted by Daniel Jones once in the first half and didn't have a catch until there were less than four minutes to play in the third quarter.
Remarkably, that's when the other Evan Engram showed up. He ended the game with six catches for 65 yards, including an impressive 22-yard catch and run that gave the Giants a chance to win on their final drive in a 17-13 loss.
It was what everyone expected and something the Giants are going to need Sunday against San Francisco (1-1) with Saquon Barkley (knee) out for the season and receiver Sterling Shepard (toe) sidelined for at least three games.
Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said Engram clearly would like a do-over on some plays in his first six-plus quarters this season. He also noted Engram has not stopped grinding.
“He’s playing hard,” Garrett said. “He had some opportunities as that game (the Bears) wore on and he took advantage of them. He won some one-on-one matchups, he made some runs after the catch that were impressive for us. Big, explosive plays like we’re talking about. He’s certainly going to be a big part of our offense going forward.”
New coach Joe Judge described Engram as a developing, tireless player who prepares hard and is tough.
“A lot of guys got on him after that first game in terms of where the production was,” Judge said. “I think we saw a glimpse of that last week. He really made some good plays for us at key times, and he’ll continue to do that throughout the season when the opportunity comes his way. He doesn’t have to force it. He doesn’t have to do anything outside of his own responsibility or job. When the play comes his way, he has to be in position to go ahead and finish it.
"We have confidence he will.”
After practice Thursday, Engram said he got into a rhythm late against the Bears, as did the offense.
“That was our mindset as an offense coming out for the second half,” Engram said. “To get going, make some plays, get the ball rolling. That was just me kind of getting opportunities and cashing in on them, doing my job.”
Engram refused to make any excuses for his play or the Giants' 0-2 start.
“We need to get it done,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing, we’re working on it.”
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