Giants rookie Daniel Bellinger practices TE University classes
On the day he was drafted — April 30, to be exact — Daniel Bellinger listed the tight ends he was watching especially closely. Travis Kelce in the passing game. George Kittle in the pass and run game. Dallas Goedert for his overall technique.
Less than two months later, Bellinger was hanging out with those established NFL players, as well as so many other big-name tight ends. The Giants hope some of what Bellinger picked up during that brief stint in Nashville will accompany their promising rookie on the court this season.
“It was unreal, because a year ago I was watching these guys on TV, waiting for the opportunity,” Bellinger told the Post. “Next year I talk to these guys, cut them, talk about football and see how they do things. It was really cool.
After his first spring job with the Giants and before reporting to his first NFL training camp, Bellinger traveled to Vanderbilt University in late June to participate in the second Tight End University, a specialty camp and a brainchild of Kelce, Kittle and former NFL tight end. turned broadcaster Greg Olsen. For three days, Bellinger — a fourth-round draft pick from San Diego State — fellow rookies, mid-level veterans and established stars got together and crunched whatever was tight.
Putting his fear aside as best he could, Bellinger absorbed all he could and the results are showing so far this summer.
The sight of No. 45 in blue carrying short and middle passes, mostly from Daniel Jones, during the Giants’ first four days of camp indicates how the coaching staff views Bellinger. He works primarily with the starting offense and it won’t be a surprise at all if that’s where Bellinger lines up on Sept. 11, when the Giants open their season against the Titans in – you guessed it – Nashville. .
“See how they do it,” Bellinger said, recounting what he took away from Tight End University. “They’re so technical in the details that once I’m able to work out those little details, it’s so small, one step can get you 5 yards of separation for a gain of 10, 20 yards.”
Bellinger said the “best thing” he thinks came out of the tight ends convention was listening to Chiefs star Kelce talk about reading and reacting to what the defense presents.
The player he admits he was most excited to meet was Darren Waller, a Ravens sixth-round pick in 2015 who became an explosive pass-catching force for the Raiders. Bellinger is originally from Las Vegas and therefore Waller is his hometown.
“He’s a lot bigger in person than I thought,” Bellinger said. “He’s all 6-6, he’s a cool guy. He’s doing these release moves, it’s crazy. Try to learn stuff from him.”
Bellinger at 6-foot-5 and a muscular 255 pounds has all the height he needs. The new front office regime thinks Bellinger will be a more than capable tackler and views his modest output as a college receiver — 68 receptions for 771 yards and five touchdowns in 31 games — based on limited opportunities, not limited capacity.
There was a nod heard from Bellinger when his San Diego State stats were mentioned.
“I had this question a lot in middle school, numbers, numbers,” he said. “How I see it is ‘How can you help a team win’, right? If that means I get 1,000 receiving yards, fine, but if that means I get 100 receiving yards and have to get my hands in the dirt – whatever it takes for us to win, that’s that’s how I see it. In college, we didn’t get that many numbers, but we had the most wins last season, so for me, it’s all about winning and whatever it takes to win.
Indeed, the Aztecs were 12-2 in 2021, with Bellinger catching a career-high 31 assists.
Bellinger showed up at his first NFL camp and was immediately placed on the physically unable to perform list with a quad injury. This surprised him a little. “I knew when I was on it, I was doing everything I could to get out of it,” he said. Sure enough, Bellinger was cleared on day one and didn’t miss a single shot.
The same can’t be said for Ricky Seals-Jones and Jordan Akins, two veteran tight ends new to the team, both of whom have missed time so far. At this point, it will be an upheaval if Bellinger doesn’t emerge as the No. 1 tight end – even if, to be fair, he hasn’t committed to fully padded practice yet; which comes on Monday.
Not every rookie can fight for the top spot. Bellinger is excited by this.
“Oh yeah, I feel a tremendous opportunity for that,” he said. “I’m grateful for that, but I have to attack this opportunity.”
New York Post