by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany
This is my 8th year writing camp reports for BBI. An institution?… or just institutionalized? You be the judge. Today is my birthday and I’m proud to celebrate it with the NFL Super Bowl champions.
For the first time that I can remember Head Coach Tom Coughlin, held the practice in the SUNY stadium rather than on the practice fields. Possibly this was because of yesterday’s heavy rains or possibly because it would be easier to contain the enormous number of media that attended practice. NFL Live was even setting up exterior shots on Washington Avenue. Look for a lot of TV coverage of today practices. In any case, the weather was hot and sunny and I’m sure the practice fields are now dry.
As expected, the Giants were in shells and shorts. WR Plaxico Burress, WR David Tyree, QB David Carr, LB Gerris Wilkinson, and OT Jonathan Palmer were all on the field, but were not dressed. Just before practice started Burress and Carr were playing catch and neither looked in distress. Then Burress caught about three dozen passes from the Juggs machine that was about ten yards away from him. He caught them all with his hands or with ONE hand and looked good doing it except for one that he dropped.
The best news of the practice is that QB Eli Manning looks great. His passes have zip. He is throwing tight spirals with the right amount of touch and height, and he is deadly accurate. What a difference from last year’s practice. His favorite receiver-no surprise-was WR Amani Toomer who caught at least half a dozen passes in the 11 on 11s and looks to be in mid-season form. He caught a 40 yard sideline pass that got cheers from the large crowd in the stands.
QB Anthony Wright is still a bit shaky. His passes wobble a bit, are a bit off-target, and he sometimes can’t find a receiver. Cut him some slack. It’s the first practice and there are plenty of new receivers.
QB André Woodson is a big strong-armed guy. He throws deep tight spirals without any apparent effort. The down side is that they are generally a yard too long for the receiver to catch. He was also having trouble with the mesh. HB Kay-Jay Harris and HB Danny Ware both had trouble taking handoffs from him. It would appear to be a combination of jitters and lack of practice. That is what training camp is for. I think he did well enough for his first outing and I would expect better hand-offs with more reps.
CB Aaron Ross covered his men like glue. It was nice to watch. CB Sam Madison was dressed and looked to be in decent shape. The rest of the young DBs are all big strong athletic looking guys: CB Terrell Thomas, S Kenny Phillips, S Terrance Stringer, S Nehemiah Warrick. We will have to wait and see if they can make plays.
Veteran FAs S Sammy Knight and LB Danny Clark were dressed, but I did not get a chance to see them do anything.
CB Corey Webster had a good practice. I think that Tom Coughlin has really changed the way he handles the players. Webster had a banner hanging from his belt that says “WEBY,” I think. The defensive backs have not worn such banners since the days of Jason Sehorn and Jim Fassell.
It bothers me when people say that we won’t miss Shockey. The crowd at training camp is generally not very vocal. At each practice session there are usually only about three or four plays that result in loud cheers and applause from the fans. I’d say about half of those plays have involved Shockey.
There must have been a lot of pressure on TE Kevin Boss to do well today. He made a catch in the 7 on 7 drills that impressed me. He went over the middle, lost LB Mathias Kiwanuka, caught the ball and made a nice spin move afterwards to continue on down the field. Kiwi played LB with the first team and he looks fast and did not look out of place. TE Darcy Johnson had two catches in the 11 on 11s and looked good.
WR Sinorice Moss had and excellent deep sideline catch even though he was well covered. The crowd appreciated it. He also managed to mess up an easy catch from Eli Manning and I think, fumbled away another ball that he was running with. He also let a ball that was a little over his head slip through his hands. The ball would have hit WR Brandon London in the chin if it had been throw to Brandon.
WR Domenik Hixon, WR Michael Jennings and CB R.W. McQuarters, caught a few punts with Jennings muffing one, I am told. As a receiver, Hixon is fast, but raw. We will have to see how he develops. The same can be said for WR Mario Manningham. He has obvious talent and decent speed, but like Hixon, he needs to get a lot more reps to be in a better position to catch the ball.
HB Brandon Jacobs, HB Ahmad Bradshaw, and HB Reuben Droughns looked just fine running the ball. Droughns and FB Madison Hedgecock also made catches.