Daniel Bellinger ready for Giants chance after Darren Waller retires

Now that it is official that Darren Waller has retired, the Giants officially need a new starting tight end who can provide pass-catching ability.

Daniel Bellinger, entering his third NFL season, seemingly is next in line.

“Yeah, I’m ready to take a step,’’ Bellinger said Tuesday after minicamp practice. “I am ready to take a step and do whatever they need me to do and do it better. Anything they want me to do, get better and make sure they build that trust and confidence we have been doing the last couple of years, but take another step in that, take another step in growing.’’

Tight end Daniel Bellinger on the field at Giants minicamp on Tuesday. Noah K. Murray for the NY Post

Bellinger in 29 games (24 starts) in his first two NFL seasons has 55 receptions for 523 yards and two touchdowns. Waller in 12 games 2023 for the Giants had 52 catches for 552 yards and one touchdown.

“I wasn’t sure what he was going to do,’’ Bellinger said of Waller. “Any time he was here, he was super focused and locked in it. I was happy for him and happy that he was happy with his decision.’’

Daniel Bellinger speaks to reporters at Giants minicamp on Tuesday. Noah K. Murray for the NY Post

The Giants selected tight end Theo Johnson in the fourth round of the draft, and he certainly will compete for immediate playing time.

Coach Brian Daboll called Lawrence Cager “probably one of the most improved players throughout the offseason that we’ve had relative to playing fast, being able to use his speed, not thinking, being in the system here for a little bit.’’ Cager in 11 games last season had four catches.

Bellinger has been seen sparingly on the field for most of the spring. He said he has no physical issue, and that his lack of reps is more about the coaches wanting so see more from Johnson and Cager.

“Just kind of like letting Theo grow and getting more mental growth to Theo and Cage, and everybody to take a step as a whole tight end room,” Bellinger said, “instead of just myself taking all the reps.”

Darren Waller retired from the NFL after one season with the Giants. Getty Images

A highlight play involved two members of the 2022 draft class and provided a good news/bad news scenario for the Giants.

WR Wan’Dale Robinson, lined up on the outside, made an in-cut to free himself of CB Cor’Dale Flott for a short reception from Drew Lock that turned into a long touchdown catch-and-run for Robinson, who engaged in an end zone celebration with Jalin Hyatt and rookie Malik Nabers.

Robinson was a second-round pick in 2022 and Flott, a third-round pick that year, is working with the starting defense this spring.

Daboll said OT Evan Neal will not work on the field in this minicamp. Neal has not participated in team drills this spring as he returns from ankle surgery.

“You’ll see him at training camp,’’ Daboll said.

Asked if Neal experienced a physical setback, Daboll said “Yeah, he’s kind of about the same. We’re going to back off him here and hopefully we can get — the plan is right now as of whatever today is, is I think we should have everybody ready to go for training camp, which is important.’’

It was a rugged session for the wide receivers, with Darius Slayton and Bruce Ford-Wheaton leaving the field with what appeared to be upper-body issues.

Giants’ Chase Cota runs a drill during practice. Corey Sipkin for the NY POST

First-year WR Chase Cota leaped for a pass, came down hard on his shoulder and eventually was carted off the field.

There were a handful of players participating in the minicamp on a tryout basis, including CB Tre Herndon, who spent the past six years with the Jaguars.

Herndon, 28, has 83 games of NFL experience, including 34 starts. Other players looking to impress the Giants were TE Geor’quarius Spivey, OL Kellen Diesch and TE Noah Togiai.

RB Jacob Saylors from the UFL was also in for a tryout.

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