by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Will Allen/Peterson
Sinorice Moss was dressed and caught passes with WR Steve Smith as the QB’s warmed up as players were still coming out. It was a pleasant surprise to see that he’d be practicing today and that his ankle seemed fine. TE Jeremy Shockey came out with HB Derrick Ward and CB Sam Madison, jogging at a steady pace for a few seconds with no sign of a limp. None of the three practiced, however. Others that sat out were S Michael Stone, LB Gerris Wilkinson and DT Jonas Seawright. WR Marco Thomas was nowhere to be found and as I discovered when I got home, it was because he’s been released.
The session began with a punt return drill, run at very low speed. CB R.W. McQuarters returned punts first and fielded them all cleanly. After practicing a fake punt with a snap to the up man, S J.R. Reed, HB Ahmad Bradshaw went back deep to field punts. He and McQuarters were the only two men back deep returning punts today. Bradshaw caught each ball fluidly, putting his hands out in front of his face to catch the first attempt and his body to bring in the second. McQuarters fielded a few more punts before they practiced the fake punt once again, with Reed taking the snap and bouncing it out to the perimeter on the right side with blockers out in front.
Next up was field goal kicking in an 11-on-11 format, but there was no real effort on the part of the defense to block the kicks. Josh Huston went first, drilling his first two and the third was very difficult from the angle I was sitting at to assertively assess as a successful kick. It was extremely close, but it appeared to sneak in just before it would’ve hit the goal post. Lawrence Tynes was obviously next, and it wasn’t pretty. His first kick was taken by the wind, sailing wide left by a wide margin. His next kick was clearly wide right by a decent margin and the third was down the middle.
The offense practiced some plays against backup offensive players posing as defenders. This drill was done at half speed. The second-string OL featured Guy Whimper, Jonathan Dunn, Zach Piller, Adam Koets and Matt Lentz. With Shockey sitting out, the 2-TE sets featured Kevin Boss and Michael Matthews. Anthony Wright and Tim Hasselbeck both saw reps with the second team. Don’t be alarmed, however; it seems that Jared Lorenzen won’t be playing this Saturday (since he’s already won the backup job). You can expect to see Wright and Hasselbeck both get some action in the fourth quarter this Saturday.
Following this, the players stretched before practicing at normal speed for the remainder of the session. During stretching, neither Sinorice Moss nor DE Justin Tuck were limping while jogging at a fast pace. After stretching, more punt returns were practiced, with McQuarters and Bradshaw once again fielding every punt. The first-team gunners were WR David Tyree and CB Kevin Dockery, while the second team gunners were WR Anthony Mix and CB E.J. Underwood.
Next up was kick return practice, beginning with the third-string units. J.R. Reed and WR Kevin McMahan were back deep first, with Reed fielding the kick. It was done at low speed so unfortunately I can’t report anything along the lines of his quickness, acceleration and cutback ability. The second unit returning kicks was E.J. Underwood and HB Ryan Grant, with Grant fielding the kick. The first-team unit returning kicks was HB Reuben Droughns and Ahmad Bradshaw (I’m sure that will make a lot of people here happy), but keep in mind that Ward was sitting out today’s practice. It’s clear to see from the sessions I’ve attended and the preseason games that Bradshaw is the most explosive return man we have on the roster.
After special teams drills, the players broke up into groups. The WR’s were practicing various routes with the QB’s throwing to them, including fades, slants and outs. It was great to see Moss back practicing, as he impressed me a great deal in camp before his injury, which hopefully won’t be a nagging one. He showed off his terrific hands the entire session, making some really impressive grabs in this drill. On one pass, thrown high and to his left on a 10-yard hitch (from one of the coach’s, not a QB), he leaped up and snatched it out of the air while having very little reaction time. The routes Moss and WR Steve Smith were running appeared extremely precise, and neither let a ball touch the ground. Smith made a ridiculous catch on a quick slant with his arms completely outstretched out in front of him on a ball that led him too much. Smith and Anthony Mix made impressive catches on out routes, utilizing proper footwork technique at the sideline. Recent acquisition, WR Will Buchanon, impressed me throughout the session, with this drill forcing me to keep an eye on him throughout the afternoon. He showed some quickness and nice hands the entire drill.
LB Reggie Torbor made an athletic deflection of a quick slant thrown by Hasselbeck, leaping up high and swatting the ball away. Eli Manning made a couple of precise intermediate throws, first on a quick out to Matthews followed by a quick slant to WR Plaxico Burress. Moss ran a fantastic slant and out route, gaining about 5 yards of separation from the slot position against S Craig Dahl before making the catch with ease. Anthony Wright made a terrific throw on a deep out to Matthews, who was covered tightly by SS James Butler. He went up for a one-handed attempt but was unable to come down with it; if he could’ve gotten both hands up it would’ve been a reception. Tyree dropped a pass on a slant from Hasselbeck that hit him in stride.
The play of the session featured an unbelievable deep ball from Eli Manning to Amani Toomer. On a deep corner route, Manning threw it into double coverage but saw that Toomer had a step, despite CB Corey Webster and FS Gibril Wilson being right there. The throw was located perfectly and Toomer didn’t have to break stride as he reached out and reeled it in before his momentum carried him to the ground. The crowd erupted and it was definitely a sight to see. On the next play, Manning made another nice throw, this time to Burress on a timing fade route. He threw it high were only Plax could get it. Burress, 15 yards downfield, went up and caught it just as McQuarters was turning around, recognizing the route a couple seconds too late.
Steve Smith absolutely torched Corey Webster with a beautiful route on an out-and-up. He broke towards the sideline for a couple of steps before instantaneously bursting upfield as Webster broke towards the boundary. Even with Webster reaching out and grabbing Smith’s jersey as he was going by, Smith had about 5-7 yards of separation. Eli’s throw was a little too strong, but it’s likely that Webster’s blatant pass interference prevented the potential reception. Later in the drill, Smith beat double coverage from CB Aaron Ross and Dahl with a deep corner route. The ball was slightly overthrown by Wright, but it was obvious how consistently Smith was able to beat his man (or men) with precise routes that featured quick cuts the entire session.
James Butler made a nice play on the ball, thanks to his air tight coverage on TE Rodney Burgess on a TE corner route, staying with him the whole way before swatting the ball down. Manning showed quality awareness against the blitz, immediately recognizing an overload blitz from the left side. He quickly went through his progressions before looking to his right and firing a strike on a 10-yard comeback route to Mix. Moss caught a WR screen, once again flashing his hands, reaching out in front of his facemask to bring in the reception before bursting upfield. Lorenzen, who didn’t throw much in the session (likely thanks to the fact that I doubt he’ll be playing on Saturday), threw a strike on a deep corner route to McMahan, but Webster wrestled the ball away before it would be considered a reception.
11-on-11 (1-Minute Offense):
On a slant intended for Toomer, Amani slipped as the ball was in the air, resulting in an incompletion with Ross in tight coverage. On the following play, Smith caught a slant from the right side of the field and quickly worked his way all the way to the left sideline, picking up a chunk of yards after the catch. Eli went to HB Brandon Jacobs on a checkdown before overthrowing Toomer on a deep corner route the following play.
An interesting TE screen play was run out of an empty backfield set. Out of singleback formation, Boss, Matthews and Moss were lined up on the right side. With Boss lining up closes to the right tackle, Manning immediately threw him the ball as he ran towards the sideline, with Matthews and Moss blocking downfield. Boss showed a quick burst upfield after the catch. Droughns let a checkdown pass go right through his hands as Wilson was closing in quickly. On the next play, Matthews was in the same exact spot Droughns was on the previous attempt and made the catch with Webster converging. The next play was a WR screen to Moss, who lined up on the left side of the formation closest to the left tackle with two tight ends lined up to the left of him. It was the same play that was run for Boss earlier in the drill.
Matthews dropped an easy ball on a quick out from Lorenzen with LB Kawika Mitchell in coverage, showing frustration with himself afterwards. On an in-route, Buchanon slipped and fell as the ball was thrown, but had enough wherewithal to bounce back up and make the reception in heavy traffic. Ross reached in and ripped it out, forcing the fumble and recovering it, but the play was already over. Mix made a very impressive catch on a deep corner route, attacking the ball at its highest point to keep it from the defender. A few teammates screamed out, “Thatta boy, Mix!” after the terrific reception.
McMahan displayed a nice burst upfield after a quick hitch route. Buchanon made probably the second or third most impressive play of the session, leaping high for a fantastic reception, utilizing his hands on the sideline by reaching over the defender. He gained two yards of separation from his man with the route he ran in the process. Eli showed quality accuracy on two consecutive intermediate throws, first to Toomer and then to Matthews on outs. Bradshaw caught a screen from Wright, showing nice hands on a line drive throw before charging upfield. With Ward out, he got a lot of work in this session, including some reps with the second-team offense.
11-on-11 (at the 10-Yard Line):
Buchanon made a terrific adjustment on a poor throw from Lorenzen on a slant route. Lorenzen threw it behind him but Buchanon spun back and made the catch in front of McQuarters while tip-toeing his feet at the back of the end zone. On the next play, Buchanon made another nice adjustment, this time on a quick hitch from the slot. He flashed impressive hands on a ball that was thrown to his back shoulder. Bradshaw showed off his receiving ability, displaying nice hands on a wheel route out of the backfield, caught in stride from Lorenzen. Boss made two consecutive catches in the end zone, using his hands rather than letting the ball come into his body. Bradshaw made an absolutely unbelievable one handed catch in the end zone. They lined him up at wide receiver, where he was matched up one on one with Butler. He ran a fade route, leaped up very high and made a one handed catch at the sideline. With that type of reception being something else as it is, taking into account that he’s a 5’9″ running back made it even more impressive. Underwood made a nice play on an out route in the end zone, deflecting a potential touchdown away from Burgess.
I hope you all enjoyed the report and I had a blast at camp, I was more than glad to provide these reports to you guys, though I wish I could’ve gone more than I had the chance to this summer.