Donnell has been a terror so far this year and it was largely unexpected before the season began. After the departure of Brandon Myers, people outside of New York Giants fandom largely didn't know who Larry Donnell was, and with a new offensive scheme coming into place this year, no one really knew what to expect from Donnell or the TE position in general. Last year, he had only three catches for 31 yards, all in week two against the Broncos in a blowout loss. Well we know what to expect now. In an offense predicated on short throws, Larry Donnell has been the definition of a security blanket for Eli Manning to start this year. He doesn't have the best speed, but he seems to have good hands and just catches everything within his radius.
So far through three games, Donnell has been targeted 23 times and hauled in 18 passes. That's the same number of receptions as our very own Niles Paul. He's accumulated 182 yards and scored a TD in week one against the Lions. He leads the Giants in receptions and is second in yards (only eight less than Victor Cruz). Needless to say, Donnell has been a pretty important part of the Giant offense and will be a priority to stop. Amongst TE's this year, Donnell is tied for fourth in receptions and sixth in yards.
Larry Donnell is slow. He clocked a 4.91 40. But he has great size (6'6", 269 lbs.), big, strong hands, and has a knack for catching everything that comes his way. He wins by running good routes and catching short passes, often in traffic. With his size, while Donnell can't outrun most defenders, he can use his body to box out and get good position when defenders are nearby. Eli and the NYG offense wasn't very good the first two weeks of the season but came alive a bit last week. One constant throughout? Larry Donnell. He's there for the check-downs when Manning is in trouble and proven good enough to be a focal point of the offense even when Manning has time.
Potential Against the Redskins
No TE's have really gone off against the Redskins this year aside from Bacarri Rambo missing on Marcedes Lewis and gifting the Jags a TD. The overall speed and coverage ability of our LB corps. is greatly improved by the addition of Keenan Robinson to the starting lineup. I expect to see him covering Donnell more than anyone else and I think he should be able to handle that assignment. The Redskins had better be prepared though, because Eli has shown that he is going to throw in Donnell's direction. Let's just hope there's some burgundy and gold in that area, too.
One area of concern for the Redskins in this matchup is obviously the injury bug. With Orakpo being banged up and our DL significantly weakened, Donnell might not be used for blocking as much as he otherwise would have been. This will free him up to be more of a danger in the passing game. Obviously the key for the Redskins will be heavy pressure on Eli Manning to promote INT's as well as forcing more players (like Donnell) to stay in as protection. Hopefully our guys are up to the challenge after a physically brutal affair against the Eagles and a short week to recuperate and prepare.
Larry went undrafted out of Grambling St. where he was coached by none other than our very own Doug Williams. Here's an interesting article from George Willis at the New York Post about Larry.