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Joe Schoen on Giants’ three likely rookie starters: ‘They earned the opportunity’

For John Michael Schmitz, Tre Hawkins and Deonte Banks, training camp has revolved around introductions. Around initial reputations.

They entered as draft picks, logging their first practices and preseason snaps, and with the regular season starting Sept. 10, it appears that all three Giants rookies with legitimate — and likely — chances to start have left a positive first impression on general manager Joe Schoen.

In his press conference Thursday, which wrapped up training camp and roster cuts and previewed the season, Schoen said Schmitz’s maturity and “some leadership about him” helped since the center arrived as a second-round pick out of Minnesota.

Hawkins, their sixth-round pick out of Old Dominion, has “done a good job” and had a “professional approach,” the GM later said, and Hawkins and Banks — their first-round pick from Maryland — both earned their opportunities to start at corner.

Giants general manager Joe Schoen
Giants general manager Joe Schoen
Noah K. Murray / New York Post

“Regardless of where you were drafted, how much money you’re making, I think that was on display last year,” Schoen said when asked about Banks and Hawkins. “No different than these guys, regardless of where they were drafted, they earned their reps. They earned the opportunity.”

Schmitz’s role as the Giants’ starting center appeared more and more likely as the preseason progressed, and Schoen said that lining up across from star defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence has challenged Schmitz “more than anybody on a daily basis.”

Schmitz also dealt with shuffling around him — with Evan Neal recovering from a concussion, with Joshua Ezeudu, Mark Glowinski and Ben Bredeson competing for the guard spots — and told The Post in August that he has tried “taking it one day at a time.”

Though Banks was also expected to earn starting reps — expectations he placed on himself after becoming a first-round pick — Hawkins’ emergence became one of the Giants’ training camp surprises. Safety Xavier McKinney told The Post that rookies sometimes don’t enter with a sense of urgency. It can take a while.

But then both Banks and Hawkins started working with the first unit and haven’t relinquished that opportunity.

Banks and Hawkins were “willing to learn,” and when the Giants defense faces Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on their first possession to start the season, it’s the primary reason why both rookies will be out there.

They’ve always had the approval of their coaching staff.

They have Schoen’s approval — another key barometer in determining whether preseason hype can translate into in-season efficiency — now, too.

“From jump when they came in, they were focused and they knew what they wanted to do,” McKinney told The Post about Hawkins and Banks. “And ultimately, they’ve been able to do that so far. They’ve had their bumps in the road, but that’s with any rookie — you’re going to go through different things.”

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NY Times

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