August 7, 2007 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Afternoon Practice)
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Pegasus parking goose
There were no double sessions scheduled for the Big Blue today, as Tuesdays 2:40-4:40 afternoon practice was the Giants only workout of the afternoon. Head Coach Tom Coughlin seized this opportunity to put the team in full pads and scrimmage them for extended periods of time. Coughlin’s modus operandi seems to be shorts and shells in the morning and full pads in the evening. Following Mondays late practice in which LB Gerris Wilkinson and OC Todd Londot went down with ankle injuries Coughlin chastised his team about the importance of staying healthy. Consequently I wasn’t sure which way Coughlin would go with the tempo of Tuesday’s session. That said there were the Giants at mid-field scrimmaging at full speed most of the afternoon. I can happily report there was nary an injury to be found. The only time the fans held their collective breath was on a long pass play from Manning to TE Darcy Johnson. The young TE made a double move went deep down the right side and Manning tried to hit him with a long pass. I believe it was Gibril Wilson and another DB whose number I couldn’t make out, but they broke up the play with what appeared to be a minimal amount of contact. Regardless, Johnson stayed down for a couple of minutes before he seemed to hear Coughlin’s voice in his head, got up and trotted off to the sideline.
Unfortunately for fans attending camp Jeremy Shockey was not in pads, however one familiar face who did show up to make a very nice impression was #81 WR Amani Toomer. Giants’ fans remember this: with all the excitement surrounding young WR’s like Sinorice Moss, Steve Smith, and Michael Jennings it’s still Amani Toomer who is one of the most prolific and clutch players in franchise history. Not only was it good to see Toomer moving well during the practice, but it was even better to see him after practice, the last guy left on the field catching fastballs off the jugs gun. The bottom line is this, the guys a pro’s pro.
The first drills of practice were the punt return unit with #25 R.W. McQuarters, #83 Sinorice Moss, #15 Michael Jennings and #44 Ahmad Bradshaw back deep to receive. Bradshaw continued his trend his trend of bouncing up and down like he is on a hipity hop while he is waiting for the ball. Moss who is already built low to the ground gets into almost a crouch as he cradles the ball and then explodes out of it. It’s an interesting technique and one which could help camouflage him from on rushing defenders as he hides behind his blockers.
Following the punt return work the offense and defense split up. They did some walk through drills, the O-Line did some sled drives while the QB’s , RB’s, and receivers worked on the passing tree and the defense worked on man pick up recognition. After which it was time to “go live”É
The first trend that stood out to me was at the quarterback position. By my count their were 65 total snaps taken while the two units were scrimmaging, give or take one or two. Of those, the breakdown of snaps per QB goes like this: Manning-31, Lorenzen-14, Wright-11, and Hasselbeck-9. But the more interesting trend came in the last 23 snaps of the practice, all of which went to Manning and Lorenzen with the exception of two that went to Anthony Wright. Also for about the last twenty plays when Manning was leading the team in the huddle, JLoad would run into the huddle while the play was being called then run back out and watch the play with the other QB’s. By this it seems to me that a clear cut favorite for the backup QB spot has emerged. It would seem that it’s Lorenzen’s job to lose.
As for the action Eli got things going on the second play from scrimmage with a strike down the middle to Jennings for about 20 yards. A few plays later #84 TE Darcy Johnson made a nice sliding catch of a Lorenzen pass for 25 yards. Four plays later Anthony Wright got into the action with a tight spiral over the middle to #86 WR Marco Thomas. The next time the starting unit emerged from the huddle I saw something that would give cornerbacks nightmares. Brandon Jacobs went in motion and split out all the way to the left side of the formation. Manning promptly dropped back and hit slot receiver Michael Jennings on a stop pattern for a short gain, but just the sight of the big man lined up on the outside stirs the imagination. Then came three plays in a row in which Manning looked sharp. First he hit Amani Toomer on a fly pattern deep down the right sideline. Next he went over the middle to a crossing Darcy Johnson, before ending the flurry with an 8-yard hitch to Toomer. The Toomer bomb probably drew the loudest fan reaction of the day. One last note about the offensive side of the ball, the battle for the second and third TE spots is going to be very interesting. One guy I haven’t heard much about is #88 Michael Mathews. Near the end of practice he caught a pass in the right flat from Lorenzen and then flashed some impressive moves for a big man.
Defensively it’s kind of hard to get a feel for how well a team is playing in training camp because they obviously can’t hit the QB. That said one thing you can get a read on is how well guys move in space. In that regard #55 Kawika Mitchell has clearly excelled. I wasn’t expecting much from this free agent pick up, primarily because he was coming from a Kansas City defense the hasn’t scared anyone since Hank Stramm was coaching it, but I can’t deny that he looks pretty good. Another player who looks pretty good is SS James Butler. He resembles a basketball small forward in a football uniform. He is a tall slender athlete who takes good pursuit angles and runs like a deer; the only questions are, can he hold on to a pick and more important can he make an impact when he has to? Also of note was rookie 7th round pick S Michael Johnson who made a nice interception of an Anthony Wright pass over the middle about 20 yards downfield.
Finally, let me say this, like most folks I have a job and can only attend Giants camp a few days a year. Nevertheless it’s always a worthwhile experience. Watching Michael Jennings slowly drive around campus after practice blaring music from his “pimped ride” is worth the trip alone. But this year I was especially blessed because on Tuesday WFAN‘s own Mike and the Mad Dog were broadcasting live from Giants camp. Sitting in my Giants folding chair with my earphones on listening to the broadcast, all while watching practice, was for this humble soul, heaven on earth. As I sat there my mind couldn’t help but wonder about Victoria’s Secret models serving me frozen margaritas in skimpy little Giants underwearÉbut I digress.
To all the Giants fans, let’s hope our team stays healthy; be courteous to one another (Giants fans are an extended family) and GO BIG BLUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!