by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Will Allen/Peterson
Throughout the practice, James Butler took all the first team reps at SS and Justin Tuck took all the first team reps at LDE. At the start of the session, the defense took part in an interception drill with a coach floating a ball into the air towards a defender. Once the player caught the ball, everyone sprinted towards the goal line. LB Mathias Kiwanuka, S Will Demps and CB E.J. Underwood all made interceptions in the drill.
After Saturday night’s preseason game, it was great to see the tackling drill that the secondary participated in tonight. One player held a pad out in front of them, posing as an offensive player. The defender began backpedaling a few steps before sprinting forward and hitting the opposing player as hard as possible. CB Aaron Ross showed terrific form on his first attempt, making a solid tackle but in his second attempt, the coach said that he went in too high and needed to go lower in the future. James Butler had a very solid hit on his man while S Michael Johnson was praised from the secondary coach for the form he displayed in his attempt. E.J. Underwood showed impressive form on his tackle attempt, quickly wrapping his man up and driving him into the cushion mat behind him. The biggest hit of the drill was provided by FS Gibril Wilson, who turned James Butler inside out with a perfect form tackle.
Michael Johnson was praised by the secondary coach on multiple occasions in the following secondary drill, where they practiced how to react in transition from their coverage responsibilities to recognizing a ball carrier in the open field. The coach seemed particularly impressed with his technique and he practiced with the second-team defense the entire session.
11-on-11: The initial 11-on-11′s featured predominantly running plays, with all backs besides Brandon Jacobs getting opportunities. WR Kevin McMahon made a nice reception on a comeback route from QB Tim Hasselbeck with CB R.W. McQuarters covering before turning upfield smoothly. QB Eli Manning hit WR Steve Smith, who took many reps with the first team with Burress and Toomer sitting out, on an underneath comeback route with E.J. Underwood in coverage. WR Brandon London showed some open field elusiveness after a reception over the middle from QB Jared Lorenzen, weaving his way through the secondary.
After the 11-on-11′s, the offense went out and practiced some plays against no opposition. The most intriguing was the flea flicker, where HB Reuben Droughns pitched it back to Eli who tossed a deep ball to WR Sinorice Moss, running a deep corner route. Memories of Super Bowl XXI highlights were inevitable, despite the fact that it was only run in practice against no opposition. Another intriguing play featured HB Derrick Ward going in motion from his halfback spot out to split end, where he caught a WR screen from Eli. One can only imagine the damage Jacobs could potentially be able to do with this type of play. There was also a nice looking play action TE screen with Eli running towards one side of the field, selling the stretch play until the last second where he would pull the ball back and toss it over to Shockey on the opposite side of the field with blockers out in front of him.
With Justin Tuck starting at LDE the entire night, William Joseph moved back to the second team at defensive tackle alongside Jay Alford. Marquies Gunn and Adrian Awasom were the second team DE’s. The defense held a drill that clearly was an attempt by the coaches to teach a proper balance of aggressiveness and discipline. They continuously emphasized the cutbacks to the players as they had E.J. Underwood line up at running back, constantly changing directions. The coaches also emphasized to the defenders how they needed to stay in their gaps and not lose track of their assignments due to overaggressiveness.
Up next was a kick return drill, where Derrick Ward, Reuben Droughns, Ahmad Bradshaw, Ryan Grant, Sinorice Moss, and E.J. Underwood were back deep to receive them. The first group of returners was Droughns (the up man) and Ward (back deep), followed by Grant (the up man) and Bradshaw (back deep) and Underwood (the up man) and Droughns (back deep).
11-on-11: Eli made a terrific throw with some zip on it to Michael Matthews, who saw plenty of action with Kevin Boss sitting out. Matthews worked his way over the middle and Manning threw a strike on a line that hit him right in between the numbers. Later on, Gibril Wilson made a beautiful play on the ball, breaking at the perfect time which enabled him to be in position to swat the ball away. Lorenzen threw a perfectly located deep out to WR David Tyree at the sideline, where only he would be able to get his hands on it. He made another impressive throw on a red zone attempted fade route, but WR Anthony Mix had it go through his hands on a leaping attempt. It would’ve been a difficult catch, but it was one he could’ve come up with. Michael Johnson was charging at him at full speed, ready for the knockout shot, which likely contributed the incompletion.
DT Fred Robbins disrupted an attempted screen pass, shooting through the gap, forcing Manning to throw it to the ground at the attempted receiver’s feet. Manning went over the middle for Shockey later on in the drive, throwing a strike but it went right through his hands. Shockey was evidently frustrated with himself as he definitely had a step on his man. The first team defense certainly held its own the entire evening, clearly motivated from their poor showing on Saturday night. On a 3rd-and-4, with the second teamers, an intermediate Jared Lorenzen pass over the middle was tipped high into the air. Aaron Ross charged forward, leaped high and came down with the interception in heavy traffic, to a good ovation from the crowd.
Eli Manning made a beautiful throw on a 15-yard corner route to Shockey, who had a step on LB Antonio Pierce and made the reception. The toss had just the right amount of touch, was a perfect spiral and was put in the exact location it needed to be. The offense tried the play action TE screen that caught my eye earlier in the session and it worked tremendously well. The defense bit hard on the stretch play and Shockey had a lot of wide open space with blockers out in front of him. Derrick Ward made a nice catch underneath as Lorenzen’s checkdown option before bursting upfield. One thing that has been easy to notice with Lorenzen, despite how well he has played in camp thus far, is that he takes entirely too long to go through his progressions. If he takes as much time in a game as he does in practice to look for the open man, he will get sacked on a regular basis.
On a deep fly from Anthony Wright down the sideline, CB Kevin Dockery made a terrific play on the ball in defense of Kevin McMahan. He ran stride for stride with him down the left sideline, was in perfect position, leaped high into the air and deflected the ball away from the intended receiver.