by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Pegasus parking goose
An overcast sky and 6:10pm start time combined to provide a very mild climate for the evening session. The practice moved at a brisk pace and at times the pads were really popping, perhaps a bit too loud for LB Gerris Wilkinson and OC/OG Todd Londot. More on that later. Two noteworthy veterans who were not in pads were WR’s Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer. The most interesting development from this session was Jared Lorenzen’s ascension to the number two quarterback spot. The Pillsbury Throw boy seems to have trimmed down a few pounds. Perhaps his new #13 is slimming; his old # 12 went to rookie second round pick, WR Steve Smith. The new look seems to be working, going into his third full season with the Giants, it was widely speculated that Lorenzen would be battling it out with Matt Hasslebeck behind newly acquired free agent Anthony Wright. While not a promotion because he was officially listed as the teams back-up quarterback last season, it would surprise many if he holds on to the spot. That said he seems to be inspired by the challenge, several times taking shots deep down the field and twice connecting, once to WR Sinorice Moss and once to Rookie WR Steve Smith. Say this about the kid in true heavy weight fashion he loves to throw the haymaker, a quality that endears him to fans in training camp, but NFL defensive backfields are full of counter punchers. Fans will love him as long as he avoids the pick. What all this means for struggling backup Matt Hasslebeck remains to be seen.
The first group work of the practice included the punt return unit with #15 Michael Jennings, #83 Sinorice Moss, #25 R.W. McQuarters and rookie 7th round pick #44 Ahmad Bradshaw doing the returning. This grouping provided another new fashion trend from last season as R.W. McQuarters has shed his trademark dreadlocks and shaved his head completely. Punter Jeff Feagles was on the seen but only to simulate his punting motion while letting a jugs gun do the punting for him. I didn’t realize punting a football was such “heavy lifting” but at age 42 I guess you are afforded that luxury. Bradshaw looks much thicker and stockier then his punt return counterparts. He also exhibited a very un-nerving hop step as he was receiving the ball. While he didn’t drop any punts it’s certainly a bad habit and one he will have to cure himself of if he is going to see the field during the regular season. The other three all looked very solid receiving punts, however in another drill in which the punt returner was required to start out holding a football as the ball was punted, then right before they were about to catch the punt they were supposed to throw the first ball in the air, catch the punt and then catch the first ball as it drops. This drill was ugly and probably the low point of the evening in terms of intensity. The only two who were able to accomplish the feat even once were Jennings and Bradshaw.
At this point the Offense and Defense separated for some half-speed drills with the LB’s and DB’s working on pursuit angle and run-pass recognition. There wasn’t much to see here other than how big Mathias Kiwanuka looks as a linebacker. Finally the offense and defense lined up against each other. The first change I noticed was at fullback where #24, Robert Douglas, saw the majority of the action. Douglas looks like he would provide more of a receiving threat than previous incumbent Jim Finn. Starting wide receivers Plaxico Burress and Amani Toomer were not in pads, as a result #12 Steve Smith and #83 Sinorice Moss were very active. Moss drew the first and probably largest ovation of the day by hauling in a high-arching bomb from Jared Lorenzen, although he spun around and lost his feet in the process. Also noticeable, in a negative way, for a couple of drops was rookie TE Kevin Boss, although he does look big and athletic. Another rookie TE #83 Rodney Burgess drew some applause as he went across the middle and caught a 15-yard strike from Eli. A few plays later the Giants suffered the first of two causalities of the day when third-year LB Gerris Wilkinson went down with what appeared to be a sprained ankle. Several plays after that with pads popping loudly on a handoff to RB Brandon Jacobs, it was second-year guard Todd Londot who went down with what also appeared to be an ankle injury. Londot’s seems to be the more severe of the two, as he stayed down for several minutes, briefly interrupting practice while he waited to be carted off the field. The Big Blue faithful applauded him for his effort as he left shaking his head in disappointment on a golf cart. This was followed by a heated sequence of plays in which the two lines were really going at it, first forcing Lorenzen to hurry his throw, badly overshooting #87 WR Darius Watts. Then on the next snap the hefty lefty had to just run into the line on a broken play, after which he spiked the ball in frustration. Next up it was Anthony Wrights turn and he was immediately flushed from the pocket by rookie DE #74 Tommie Davis.
The kick-return unit featured four deep men, second-year receivers Sinorice Moss and Michael Jennings, who were joined by rookie halfbacks Ahmad Bradshaw and #30 Decori Birmingham. Here again Bradshaw was bouncing up and down as he waited to receive the ball. Also, he seems to catch the ball too high on his shoulder – a dangerous practice for a return man. The other three all looked solid in receiving kickoffs.
Following a field-goal session in which kicker Josh Houston looked powerful, it was time for goal line 7-on-7′s. From here through the end of practice, Manning seemed to really heat up, maybe its wishful thinking on the part of an optimistic Big Blue fan but Eli does look more in command so far. Without going into a play-by-play breakdown of the rest of the practice, let me just say what stood out to me. The Giants looked to be using more of a short passing game using a lot of crossing patterns and quick stops. If this is the case, the ultra-quick Sinorice Moss and Michael Jennings could become more valuable then anyone had expected. The battle for the number 2 and 3 tight end spots appears to be wide open. The Giants have a stable of young tight ends with each receiving a handful of reps. Darcy Johnson #84 probably looked the most impressive of the bunch.
Defensively the Giants had a pretty solid practice. Second year corner, #35 Kevin Dockery seems to have a nose for the ball. After being beaten on a nice bomb from Lorenzen to Steve Smith, Dockery came back a few plays later to intercept an Anthony Wright pass off the hands of #82 WR Brandon London. After all of the butterfingered Giants defensive backs of recent vintage if Dockery can just make the routine pick he’ll be a sight for sore eyes.