Aug 312009
 

August 30, 2009 New York Giants Injury Report: The Giants apparently came out of the Jets’ game with no serious injuries. Head Coach Tom Coughlin yesterday provided an update on a few players who played and did not play against the Jets:

  • HB Brandon Jacobs (forearm): “Brandon will be fine.”
  • HB Danny Ware (ribs): “Danny does have some soreness, so we are going to have to see where he is. It will be to be day-to-day and he is having all those tests, etc. for sore ribs.”
  • CB Terrell Thomas (leg): “He seemed to be fine.”
  • LB Antonio Pierce (foot): “He is constantly testing that. The doctors are making the call with regard to that. Hoepfully if we do get the green light he can practice some this week. I think that would be a very good starting point if he could do that. I won’t know (if he can play against New England) until we actually get into a position where we can make that call, probably (on Monday)…It’s a foot injury and we are being very cautious with it because there is soreness involved there.”
  • LB Michael Boley (hip): “I don’t know about that (if he can practice this week). He is progressing well and it would be a good time for us to have him do some things, seeing how he can’t play in the opener (due to his League suspension).”
  • DT/DE Chris Canty (hamstring) and CB Aaron Ross (hamstring): “I heard they are both making progress, but I don’t have any information for you about practice, no.”

Newsday Q&A With WR Sinorice Moss: “Be Merciful To Those Who Doubt” by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on the Wide Receiving Corps: Rookie Nicks Catches Fire, Could Move Up Depth Chart by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on the Giants’ New Stadium: Tickets Are a Tough Sell for the New Giants Stadium by Joe LaPointe of The New York Times

Aug 302009
 

Jets Defeat Giants 27-25: The Giants dropped their second preseason game in a row tonight at the Meadowlands, falling 27-25 to the New York Jets.

On their opening drive, the Giants marched 60 yards, capping off the 10-play drive with an 8-yard touchdown pass from QB Eli Manning to HB Brandon Jacobs on 3rd-and-goal. When the Jets got the ball for the first time, the Giants forced a three-and-out.

On the Giants’ second drive, WR Domenik Hixon’s dropped pass was intercepted, setting up the Jets at the Giants’ own 27-yard line. Eight plays later, the Jets tied the game on a one-yard touchdown run on 4th-and-goal. Giants 7 – Jets 7.

The Giants regained the lead on their third drive by moving the ball 48 yards in seven plays to set up a 38-yard field goal by PK Lawrence Tynes. Giants 10 – Jets 7.

The Jets went three-and-out on their next possession as DE Mathias Kiwanuka came up with a sack. However, the Giants turned the ball over to the Jets as Jacobs fumbled the ball away at the Jets’ 27-yard line. The Giants then forced yet another three-and-out, their third in four possessions.

The Giants marched 56 yards in seven plays to set up another field goal by Tynes, this one from 26 yards out. Giants 13 – Jets 7. The Jets then took their first lead of the game as they drove 62 yards in just four plays, including big pass plays of 29 yards and 31 yards, the latter being for a touchdown. Jets 14 – Giants 13.

Then it was the Giants turn to go three-and-out. The Jets subsequently scored again, this time on a 42-yard field goal as they moved the ball 35 yards in eight plays. The Giants went three-and-out again and the Jets were unable to score on their final possession of the first half as time expired. At the half, the Giants trailed 17-13.

With the starters still playing, both teams exchanged three-and-outs to start the third quarter. On their second possession of the second half, the Jets drove 73 yards in eight plays to set up a 25-yard field goal. Jets 20 – Giants 13.

With the second teamers now in the game, the Giants managed one first down on their second possession of the half and then were forced to punt. The Jets went three-and-out. The Giants drove from their 41-yard line to the Jets’ 30-yard line, but HB Danny Ware lost three yards on 3rd-and-5. Tynes subsequently missed the 51-yard field goal attempt.

The Jets went three-and-out again. The Giants began a long 14-play, 99-yard drive that culminated in a 22-yard touchdown pass from QB David Carr to WR Hakeem Nicks. Carr’s 2-point conversion attempt failed. Jets 20 – Giants 19.

With under five minutes to play, things got a little crazy as both teams exchanged long touchdown passes. On the first offensive play immediately after the Giants’ ensuing kickoff, the Jets completed a 70-yard pass for a touchdown, expanding their advantage to 27-19. But then the Giants quickly scored on a 4-play, 77-yard effort, the big playing being a 71-yard strike from Carr to Nicks. The two-point rushing attempt by HB Allen Patrick failed. Jets 27 – Giants 25.

The Jets went three-and-out, and the Giants got the ball back with less than a minute to play at their own 38-yard line. But after a 6-yard completion, Carr foolishly took two sacks. On 4th-and-24, Carr completed an 18-yard pass to Nicks, but it obviously was not enough to pick up the first down. Game over.

“That was a tough game for us to lose,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “I thought we had some chances and had some opportunities; obviously we didn’t take advantage of the two point plays. We had some dropped balls that hurt us. I thought David Carr played well for his part in the game. We had some big plays, and yet, we dropped some big plays. We had two turnovers, which hurt us. We kicked some field goals that should have been points on the board, in terms of touchdowns, we were in position to do that. I was disappointed in that. I thought we played hard. We obviously made some errors, but on the other hand, we had a chance right there at the end to do something about it and we didn’t quite get that done. I saw some things that gave me some encouragement.”

Manning finished the night completing only 9-of-21 passes for one touchdown and one interception. Carr was 12-of-17 for 181 yards and two touchdowns. HB Ahmad Bradshaw carried the ball 8 times for 47 yards, HB Danny Ware 9 times for 43 yards, and Jacobs 6 times for 24 yards. Nicks caught 6 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns while WR Mario Manningham caught 4 passes for 41 yards.

“We came out in the no-huddle, and that’s something we’ve been working on,” said Manning. “We wanted to come out and do it with our regular offense. We had a real good first drive. We drove down there with a bunch of good plays. We got them to jump offsides a few times to get a first down and a touchdown, so that was a good start. The next series we had the tipped ball interception. We did some good things and moved the ball at times, but we settled for too many field goals. The two turnovers were very costly. One stopped us from getting a touchdown, and the other kept us from a chance of putting points on the board. We’ve got a few things to go back and work on.”

The Giants’ defense allowed 99 net yards rushing and 215 net yards passing. The defense forced no turnovers and only picked up one sack (by Kiwanuka).

“After last week’s performance, we wanted to come out here and improve,” said DE Justin Tuck. “We did some good things, but we still have a lot to work on. We had a good opponent tonight, and this is as close to regular season action as you are going to get. Things were a little bit better, but we are still not satisfied. We made some plays but could’ve made more. We will go in and watch the film and come out next week and continue to build. We had some guys not going tonight that are going to be there in the regular season. That’s not an excuse, but our chemistry is not where we’d like it to be. We’ll continue to grow and get better every day.”

Highlights of the game are available at NFL.com.

Post-Game Notes and Quotes: HB Brandon Jacobs injured his forearm in the game. “He was fine,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He played up until that point and he was to be replaced at that point. The x-rays were negative.”

Not playing against the Jets were WR David Tyree (hamstring), DT/DE Chris Canty (hamstring), DT Jay Alford (knee), LB Antonio Pierce (foot), LB Michael Boley (hip), CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), OL Orrin Thompson (quad), and HB Andre Brown (Achilles).

Article on QB Rhett Bomar: NY Giants Rookie Quarterback Rhett Bomar Remains Patient As He Awaits His Turn On The Field by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Aug 292009
 

Injury Report for Tonight’s Jets Game: According to the Giants, the following players are not expected to play against the Jets tonight: WR David Tyree (hamstring), DT/DE Chris Canty (hamstring), DT Jay Alford (knee), LB  Antonio Pierce (foot), LB Michael Boley (hip), CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), CB Stoney Woodson (ankle), OL Orrin Thompson (quad), and HB Andre Brown (Achilles).

Article on the Giants’ Wide Receiving Corps: NY Giants’ Wide Receivers All Striving To Be No. 1 by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Aug 282009
 

August 27, 2009 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing yesterday were DT/DE Chris Canty (hamstring), DT Jay Alford (knee), LB Antonio Pierce (foot), LB Michael Boley (hip), CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), and CB Stoney Woodson (ankle).

Pierce will not play against the Jets on Saturday. “He is running and doing okay,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “He still has a little soreness; they are going to try to make sure that they can clear that up.”

When asked about Canty, who also will not play, Coughlin responded, “I didn’t really get a chance (to talk to him). I watched him on the side. He told the doctor and people last night he is feeling pretty good. We’ll see.”

“I feel great,” said Canty yesterday.

Ross won’t play against the Jets but said he was feeling better yesterday. “(The hamstring) is a lot better today,” said Ross yesterday. “I guess it was sore from being a fresh injury…I was trying to force myself back too early the first time. I felt good but my leg wasn’t all the way right yet. I have to be smarter this time.”

Coughlin said guards Chris Snee (knee) and Rich Seubert (shoulder) may play. “They have been there all week,” said Coughlin. “They have practiced all week.”

OL Terrance Pennington (unknown) returned to practice, but OL Orrin Thompson (quad) was sidelined again.

Article on DT Barry Cofield: Durable Cofield Anchors Giants Defensive Line by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on LB Jonathan Goff: Jonathan Goff Coming Out of Shell, On The Field And Off, For NY Giants by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Article on CB Aaron Ross: Giants Cornerback Aaron Ross Refuses To Be Hamstrung By Injury by Ohm Youngmisuk of The Daily News

Aug 272009
 

8/27/2009

By Eric from BigBlueInteractive.com

Approach to the Game – New York Jets at New York Giants, August 29, 2009: The purpose of preseason is to mentally and physically prepare players for the rigors of the regular season. The outcome of these games is not a good indicator regarding how a team will actually perform when it counts.  The reasons for that vary and can include how the various head coaches treat the games and the amount of time reserves are played.

That all said, the third game of the preseason is the one that most coaches use as their primary “dress rehearsal” for the regular season.  The first-team usually plays into the second half and when the reserves do actually come into the game, it usually is only the second-teamers or those vying to become second-teamers.  Quite a few players often don’t play and it usually isn’t a good sign for those who don’t.

Personally, I hate the Giants-Jets preseason games.  The insecure Jets and their insecure fans always take this game far too seriously.  It often seems that a serious injury comes out of this game.  But I expect a pretty intense performance for a preseason game.  Tom Coughlin wasn’t happy with his team last Saturday and I expect them to play with much more passion and gusto this week.

But I don’t care if the Giants lose 45-0 if they come out of the game healthy.

Quarterbacks: Eli Manning has looked sharp this preseason.  He seems to really be coming into his own.  That said, all quarterbacks, even the great ones, make mistakes and I get the sense that the Eli haters are just waiting for that first interception so they can jump on him.  I suppose it will be like Phil Simms and Manning will only be truly appreciated when he is retired.

With talent/experience question marks at wide receiver, I am starting to get the sense that Eli is much more comfortable throwing to his underneath targets who are more experienced and thus he can trust more.  I love the fact that he is throwing to the running backs more.  This will open up the entire field for the Giants and help out the receivers down the field.  The missing element in all of this has been Kevin Boss.  I expect him to put up some good numbers this year if he stays healthy.

David Carr is firmly entrenched as the #2 quarterback, but a tougher-than-usual verbal warning was issued this week by QB Coach Chris Palmer who said he wasn’t happy with Carr’s play.  Carr needs to do a better job of reading the defense, finding the open receiver, and getting rid of the ball quickly.

I doubt we see Andre’ Woodson or Rhett Bomar this week.  Both will likely play next week.  Woodson and former Giants’ quarterbacks have talked about how difficult the quarterback’s role is in Coughlin’s offense.  The quarterback needs to not only know his assignments, but the assignments of all the other players on the field, including making offensive line calls on both passing and running plays.  Bomar has just been introduced to these concepts; and Woodson is only just starting to grasp some of them.  Are the Giants not playing Bomar because he has so much to learn?  Or is it they want to redshirt Bomar on the Practice Squad and therefore are “hiding” him from the rest of the League?  Does Woodson have a future with this team?  Will the Giants carry two or three quarterbacks this year?

Wide Receivers: I would like to see some solid pitch-and-catch plays between Eli and his two starting widouts – Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith.  I think this game is huge for both Mario Manningham and Sinorice Moss.  It may determine who is the #3 heading into the season.  I think this is the week we may finally see Ramses Barden and Hakeem Nicks with the #2’s.

It’s been talked about all offseason, but the decision is fast approaching – will David Tyree make it?

Running Backs: I’ve seen posts along the lines of “Why are the Giants running Jacobs in the preseason?  They know what he can do!”  People who think that way don’t entirely understand the need for players to get their reps in the preseason in order to be at their peak once the season starts.  In other words, practice matters.  And practice in games is much different than practice on the practice field.

Ahmad Bradshaw pretty much has locked up the #2 job, but as last week showed, he still needs improvement on his blitz pick-ups.  I hope Danny Ware gets some better run blocking this week.

Tight Ends: The real question here remains how many tight ends/H-Backs do the Giants keep?  I’m in the minority but I think the Giants may keep four.  If they don’t, the real battle here is between Darcy Johnson and Michael Matthews.

Offensive Line: The starting two tackles didn’t play very well last week.  And both starting offensive guards have not played a snap yet this preseason.  The Giants need their starting five to work together some before the season starts.  Hopefully, Chris Snee (knee) and Rich Seubert (shoulder) will be back this week.

The second-team offensive line has been hampered by the fact that two of its players have had to play on the first unit.  Still, this unit hasn’t played all that well.  And the third teamers?  So bad they won’t be around much longer.  William Beatty is everything I said he would be a few weeks ago – a big, talented offensive lineman who is at least a year away from contributing.  This will be a redshirt year for him.  The real questions here is how many back-ups do the Giants keep and who?  Beatty sticks because of the investment in him plus potential.  Do the Giants see enough from Adam Koets to keep him around?  Do the Giants keep two guard types in Kevin Boothe and Tuten Reyes?  One would think Guy Whimper makes it because he can play both tackle spots.

Defensive Line: The tackle situation is a bit of a mess.  I can’t see how Jay Alford (torn MCL/partially torn ACL) returns.  Hopefully the Giants get Chris Canty (hamstring) back during the first part of the regular season, but how rusty will he be?  How much will the hamstring still affect him?  Will he re-injure it?  How out of sync will he be with the 4-3?  Fred Robbins is still nowhere near 100 percent.  Barry Cofield remains the consistent soldier that he is.  We will finally get a look at Rocky Bernard as a Giant this week.  He may be a much more important figure this year than at first envisioned.

I’m starting to get concerned that Mathias Kiwanuka is not going to become the player hoped for.  In two games, he hasn’t done all that much against second teamers.  He should be killing these guys if he were a “top player.”  He needs to turn it up.

Dave Tollefson versus Maurice Evans continues.

Linebackers: There are some real tough decisions here to be made.  Antonio Pierce, who was obviously missed last week, is obviously safe.  So are Michael Boley, Bryan Kehl, and Clint Sintim.  With the injury to Alford, Zak DeOssie is not going anywhere.  If the Giants only keep seven linebackers, there are only two spots for Danny Clark, Chase Blackburn, Jonathan Goff, and Gerris Wilkinson.  Hmmm.  It’s one of the reasons why I can see the Giants going with two quarterbacks again, so they can keep an extra linebacker.

Defensive Backs: The injury to Aaron Ross is problematic, not because the guys behind him can’t do the job.  They can.  The problem is if someone else gets hurt, an area of strength becomes a weakness very quickly.  Teams need three healthy, quality corners.  The third corner plays more than the third linebacker.  Giants can ill afford an injury to Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas, and Kevin Dockery at this point.

I am assuming the Giants will keep five corners.  If so, the decision will be between Stoney Woodson, DeAndre Wright, and Bruce Johnson.  All have flashed.

I’ve been disappointed with the play of Michael Johnson this preseason.  He’s better than that, or we had better hope he is.  Kenny Phillips didn’t play last week and hopefully returns this week and flashes as much in actual games as he has on the practice field.  C.C. Brown will be the veteran reserve on this team, but who will be the young gun to make it?  Travonti Johnson, Sha’reff Rashad, or Vince Anderson?

Everyone in the secondary has to do a much better job in run support and tackling.

Special Teams: I’m still not sure who the punt returner is on this team.  Mario Manningham looked good in the first game, but muffed a punt last week.  Sinorice Moss catches the ball, but has made some questionable decisions and doesn’t seem to have a knack for running in the open field.

Danny Ware looked pretty good on one kickoff return last week.

There were breakdowns on the coverage units last week.  That needs to get fixed.

Aug 272009
 

August 26, 2009 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing yesterday were DT/DE Chris Canty (hamstring), DT Jay Alford (knee), LB Antonio Pierce (foot), LB Michael Boley (hip), CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), CB Stoney Woodson (ankle), and OL Terrance Pennington (unknown).

Canty did some running on the sidelines. “He is running up and down the sideline,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “It looks like a little bit faster down the sideline, he couldn’t take the field. We will have to see. I am like you guys, I know you want to know. I want to know every day; I just get the same answers.  I don’t have anything new for you with regards to any of these things.”

Boley also did some running and agility drills. “I think I’m getting real close, closer every day,” Boley said.

When asked about Ross, Coughlin said, “He is limping. What can I tell you? What do you want me to tell you? He has got a hamstring…It’s a little worse than it was. As he tried to accelerate (on Tuesday), down he went.”

LB Danny Clark (chin)  and OL Orrin Thompson (quad) returned to practice.

Article on DT/DE Chris Canty: Canty Uses Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy For Hamstring by Tom Rock of Newsday

Article on LB Danny Clark: Danny Clark Using Competition With Fellow NY Giants Linebacker Clint Sintim As Chance To Be Mentor by Jenny Vrentas of The Star-Ledger

Aug 262009
 
Chicago Bears 17 (1-1) – New York Giants 3 (1-1)

by The Hack for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary: As pointed out by Eric in his preview, the second preseason game is probably the second most important of the four.  Unfortunately, the Giants did not come out with any defensive fire from the very beginning of the game.   The offense, though able to get drives started with positive yards, derailed on three straight first half drives due to penalties.  Eric’s word was ‘dreadful’, and that’s as good an adjective there is to describe the feeling most BBI’ers had after watching this game: Dread.

Despite every effort to shore up the defense this past offseason, there has been no continuity on any unit as injuries have kept out a bevy of regulars all through camp and now through the first two preseason games.  On offense, there is also a lack of continuity on the line.  Though they played well last week against Carolina, this week was a step back.  Additionally, the wide receiver corps is still a major question mark as either 1) the QBs simply don’t want to throw deep to them or 2) they can’t get open deep and therefore QBs can’t throw to them.

There were positives, as several key players, especially on defense, continued to show promise.  The offense indeed looks as though they have the makings for the return of the Three Headed Monster at running back.

As is the case every week, there are several objectives the Giants want to achieve, most importantly suffering no significant injuries.  That wasn’t met this week, as DT Jay Alford tore his MCL and partially tore his ACL.  His prognosis is not known at this time, however there is rumor that he will end up on IR at some point.  That is and will continue to be a huge blow to the much anticipated DL rotation.

Now that all that has been said, take the following into account.

The Giants had only four days between games this week.  Following the Monday Night win against Carolina in which both starting units looked sharp, they had Tuesday off, an abbreviated morning practice in shorts and shells followed by a short afternoon session in uppers on Wednesday, another abbreviated practice in shorts and shells on Thursday, and a walk through on Friday before traveling.  I don’t imagine much game planning went into this affair, either.

The Giants were missing two starting linebackers, a starting safety, and a starting corner.  That’s not even mentioning the large number of backups that were also held out or still haven’t played at all.
It’s preseason!!!  While there is never an excuse for the lack of emotion, attention to detail, and concentration the team showed on Saturday, it’s abundantly apparent that Head Coach Tom Coughlin got their attention from remarks made during his post game press conference in which he indicated the team was embarrassed by Chicago.  The reactions from several of the team leaders in the days afterwards echoed Coughlin’s sentiments, emphasizing that the message was received.

The Detroit Lions, who ended up 0-16 last season, beat the Giants in their preseason game last year.  Enough said.

Before getting into the detail of the review, I wanted to make a couple quick comments.  First, thanks for the feedback on the previous review.  I realize that the review was long and involved, but because this is preseason, there were 80 players to analyze and due to the fact that most people are not aware of all the position battles for backups, I felt it necessary to provide more information than less.  Obviously, as the roster is trimmed and decisions are made by the coaching staff as to who fills what roles, that will change and the reviews will get shorter.

Thanks to my trusty DVR, I was able to review the bubble screen to Hixon last week that I reported appeared ‘dysfunctional’ to me.  I could not have been more wrong, and I appreciate being called out on it.  In fact, the offensive line and in particular backup guards Boothe and Tuten made incredible blocks to spring Hixon.  The play, in all actuality, was a clinic on how to run it correctly.

Offense: For the second straight game, the Giants first string offense started the game with OL Kevin Boothe playing at RG and OL Tuten Reyes at LG.  WR Steve Smith returned to the starting lineup.  All other projected starters were on the field.

Unlike last week, the Giants starting offense showed a few more sets than the basic “I” and offset shotgun.  One set that was a little puzzling was the double TE with a single back with one WR wide and the other in close to the TE on the opposite side.  The Giants ran out of this formation twice on long down and distance situations, failing to gain more that 2 yards each time.  It seems counterproductive to shorten the field (bringing the defenders closer to the ball carrier) on 2nd and 3rd and long when you plan to run the ball.  There were also several occasions when the Giants first team offense sent five men into coverage from the basic 3-wide set, releasing the TE and the HB into the pattern.  The Giants played sloppily on offense, committing seven penalties of which five were accepted.

The Quarterbacks: Starter QB Eli Manning played four series, finishing 7-10 for just 62 yards.  Manning spread the ball around more so than he did last week against Carolina, targeting his WRs seven times, going twice to his halfbacks, and once to his TE.  Of the seven to the WRs, only one was a deep pass intended for Manningham that was broken up at the last second by the safety.  Manning, however, bird dogged Mario the entire route, and the safety just read his eyes over to defend it.  If Manning looks off or pumps right for a split second, or if he leads Manningham to the outside, that’s a touchdown pass.  One other intermediate pass went to Steve Smith for a 25 yard gain.  That was the first pass in either game where the receiver had complete separation down the field and was able to make an easy catch.  Manning was sacked twice and fumbled once.  The fumble was recovered by the Giants and neither sack was Manning’s fault.  Eli was also called for intentional grounding, which in preseason is fine, as he was about to be creamed on the play.

Backup QB David Carr had a bad night, finishing just 2-of-6 for 8 yards.  Tentative and seemingly harried, Carr never got into any sort of rhythm.  On his first series, taking over with four minutes to go in the first half after the Giants recovered a Bears fumble deep in their territory, Carr went three and out.  On his first play, he rolled to his right while Manningham ran a beautiful post down the left side.  Carr had his eyes on Manningham, and if he’d stopped, set, and thrown it could have been a touchdown.  Instead, he bolted to the sideline for an 8 yard gain.  On second down, under duress, Carr threw an ill advised deep ball to Boss who had no chance to make a play.  On third down, Carr badly under threw a back shoulder pass to Manningham, who was able to adjust and make the catch but Carr had led him out of bounds.

Carr again went three and out to start the third quarter, absorbing a sack and completing a pass to Bradshaw that went for a three yard loss.

Carr’s third series, however, was his worst if not most successful.  Thanks to the running game, Carr was moving the team until a 3rd and 6 play where he changed the play at the LOS, resulting in mass confusion and an illegal shift penalty that was declined by the Bears.  Walking off, Carr got an earful from OC Kevin Gilbride who was obviously disgusted with the effort.  That was the final play of David Carr’s night.

This is two lackluster and arguably poor showings in a row from Carr.  What appeared to be a strength at backup QB now has to be questioned.  To be fair, the offensive line he worked behind included Beatty, Thompson and Whimper, none of whom played well.

QB Andre Woodson entered the game with about three minutes left in the third quarter.  He completed 7-of-16 passes for 95 yards, but most came on one play, a 55 yarder to rookie Hakeem Nicks.  Woodson was on the run for most of the night, but when he had time he did get the ball out fairly quickly and on target.  His wind up was not quite as pronounced as last week, but he still seems to come from the hip rather than the shoulder.

QB Rhett Bomar did not get into this game.  If he doesn’t get significant playing time in the game against the Jets, it will become quite obvious that he’s not in the Giants’ long term plans.

The Running Backs: HB Brandon Jacobs started again and played well into the second quarter, finishing with 7 carries for 27 yards along with 1 catch for 16 yards.  It’s safe to say Jacobs is in midseason form.  On the first three Giants drives, he produced positive yards and on two of them he put the Giants in good down and distance situations following a first down carry.  Jacobs also had a 5 yard carry nullified by an illegal shift penalty that should not have been called.  Matthews had legally reset prior to Hedgecock going into motion, but the Referee felt differently.  Jacobs also added to his personal highlight reel by de-cleating All Pro MLB Brian Urlacher on two occasions.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw has solidified his slot as the primary backup to Jacobs, once again running with aggression and power while finishing with 6 carries for 55 yards to go with 2 receptions for -1 yard.  Bradshaw continues to show great patience by staying behind his blockers until the crease appears.  He has an uncanny way of knowing just the right moment to explode through the hole.

HB Danny Ware entered the game with about three minutes left in the 3rd quarter, and once again was relegated to running behind a very, very bad offensive line.  His line, however, was solid as he gained 34 yards off 8 carries and ended up leading the Giants with 4 receptions for 30 yards.  Ware also continues to play low and behind his pads, and has proven to be a reliable option out of the backfield.  His blitz recognition and pick up needs work, but he did nothing to put the QB in harm’s way on Saturday.

HB Allen Patrick did not get into the game on offense.

FB Madison Hedgecock once again played a solid half of football, leading Jacobs and Bradshaw in the running game.  HB/FB Dwayne Wright again looked solid from the FB position, although he was called for a ticky tack offensive holding penalty on a play where he led Bradshaw through the hole for a 10-15 yard gain.  Wright seems to be very active, enjoys contact, and is very demonstrative on the field.  It appears he relishes his role.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: The WR corps continues to be a work in progress for the Giants.  Even with the return of Steve Smith, the first team receivers never really established themselves.  While watching away from the ball on several occasions, it was noticed that Smith, Hixon, and Manningham all had difficulty at times getting off the line and away from press coverage.  The WRs did catch eight balls, but only two were in an area beyond 15 yards.

WR Steve Smith caught 2 balls for 30 yards, one of which went for 25 yards where he was wide open on a square in as he settled down in front of the safety.  WR Domenik Hixon was again very quiet for a number 1 WR, catching just 1 ball for 7 yards.  Sinorice Moss was once again not targeted by Eli Manning, but did catch a short pass from David Carr and was thrown two on a few occasions.  WR Mario Manningham played a lot with the first team and seems to have won the #3 job.  Manning had him open on a deep out on the first series of the game but didn’t lead him far enough to the sidelines and the safety made up ground to break up the play.

WR Ramses Barden had two catches, the first was a nice in move at the sticks for a first down where he walled off the defender making it an easy pitch and catch with Woodson.  Barden looked good getting off the LOS, and seems to be getting more looks than any other receiver on the third team. WR Hakem Nicks had just one catch but it was one that all of BBI had been waiting for, a deep pass over the corner and in front of the safety that went for 55 yards.  Both Barden and Nicks need to see time with the first or second units, however, so it can be judged whether they are ready for regular season game day action.

WR David Tyree did not catch a pass, though he was targeted late in the game by Woodson.  WRs Derek Hagan, Taye Biddle, and Shaun Bodiford also failed to catch a pass in the game.

TE Kevin Boss once again was not used in the passing game at all.  He did have several good wall off blocks in the running game.  Darcy Johnson once again had a solid night as a blocking TE and did catch 1 pass for 11 yards in which he made a LB miss in space allowing him to gain another 5 or 6 yards.  TE Michael Matthews continues to be very good in the running game.  He is very good at coming off motion to get into the blocking scheme quickly and eliminating his man from the play.  H-Back Travis Beckum did not catch a pass though he was targeted a couple of times late in the game from Woodson.  TE Lee Vickers again did very little, and actually looked lost in the running game on several occasions late.

The Offensive Line: Overall, the offensive line had a subpar game, with the first team allowing two sacks and the unit surrendering five overall.  The run blocking was solid, and the unit didn’t have a penalty called against them all night until late in the fourth quarter.

The starting OL was the same as last week as guards Chris Snee and Rich Seubert were held out another week with injuries.  Guards Tutan Reyes and Kevin Boothe once again got the starts, and both played well.  The problems on Saturday night were with the tackles, as both David Diehl and Kareem McKenzie surrendered drive killing sacks.  McKenzie was also called for illegal formation for the second week in a row out of the shotgun formation.  Diehl continues to be victimized by the quick outside move by the DE.  On Saturday, the speed rush around him resulted in a fumble by Eli Manning.  This could be a very big problem in the NFC East.  Interestingly, both sacks given up by the starting line came against four man rushes by Chicago and on each occasion, the Giants sent five players out into the pattern.  Neither the TE nor the HB chipped anyone on the way out, either.  Finally, Bradshaw was also partially responsible for one of the sacks on Carr due to his weak attempt at picking up the blitz.  This is another problem that requires fixing.

Backup OL Guy Whimper again played at RT and on Saturday he was the one of the few people on the backup OL that played consistently well.  He lost his man on one or two occasions, but for the most part was stout.  Whimper plays, for the most part, from whistle to whistle and again I think he’d make a fine RT.

Backup C Adam Koets also played well until the last few minutes of the game when he made a double clutch move with the football, resulting in a false start penalty that pushed the Giants from 4th and 1 in which they were going to try to convert to a 4th and 6 which changed the strategy to a punt.  There were no other snap miscues and he looked good in pass protection.

Rookie LT William Beatty had a very rough night, constantly giving up pressures, two that lead to sacks after the QB escaped the man who beat him but moved into another player who got credit for the sack.

The Defense: The Giants didn’t have the same success they had against the Carolina Panthers.  Once again they had trouble stopping the run, but only forced two turnovers and generated only two sacks, neither when the game was competitive.  As they did last week, the Giants played a base defense and rushed just the four down linemen.  There were several zone and fire blitz packages, and the Giants did send the corners and safeties on a few occasions.

Front 7: The front 7 once again was missing several key players in Michael Boley, Chris Canty, and Rocky Bernard.  DT Fred Robbins was back starting, but later in the game the Giants lost DT Jay Alford to a serious knee injury.  DT Barry Cofield once again got the start at the other DT position.  MLB Antonio Pierce missed the game with an injury, with backup MLB Chase Blackburn taking his place on the first team with LBs Bryan Kehl and Danny Clark flanking him.

DEs Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck were quiet on this night, as neither registered a tackle in the game and generated little if any pressure in the passing game.

DTs Cofield and Robbins were fairly inactive as well, with only Cofield recording a tackle in the game.  Chicago HB Matt Forte ran for 58 yards in little more than a full quarter, and Kevin Jones combined with Garrett Wolf to add another 39 before the half was over.  Two games do not a trend make, but this is the second consecutive game in which the Giants’ top unit could not consistently stop the run.

DE Dave Tollefson, despite forcing a fumble that lead to the only Giants points, really didn’t do much else.  He was a complete nonfactor in the passing game.  Maurice Evans had two QB pressures and made two tackles, and for the second straight game outplayed Tollefson.

DE Mathias Kiwanuka had a better game than last week, helping to force a sack and making a nice tackle as he ran down the line to trap the HB in the backfield.  This all came against the second team OL from Chicago, however, and you’d expect Kiwi to have the advantage.  That really wasn’t the case, as he looked slow and at times disinterested.  The Giants are relying on Kiwi to be a third down pass rushing demon, and he’s not showing it yet.

With MLB Antonio Pierce out, Chase Blackburn filled in as the starter in the middle and played a good game overall.  On the 32 yard TD run by Forte, however, he was completely destroyed by OT/G Frank Omiyale who rode him 10 yards down the field and out of the play.

On the weak side, Danny Clark once again had a tough night.  He seemed to constantly take himself out of the play.  For instance, on the same Forte TD run, Clark inexplicably left his lane to engage OT Orlando Pace who influenced him away from the play.  Pace did NOT engage Clark, it was the other way around, and with Blackburn being completely blown out of the play, it left no one to fill and stop the play.  This was evident on other plays as well, and maybe it’s by design that he’s to attack the lineman to free someone else to get in on the play, but that seems farfetched.  Both OLBs Bryan Kehl and Jonathan Goff once again had solid games.  Goff has the makings of a fine MLB and on Saturday looked solid in coverage and against the run.  He was easily the bright spot on the defense.  Kehl had a very nice play where he induced a throw into the ground by Cutler as he sat on a screen.  Both played well on special teams kick coverage as well.

OLB Gerris Wilkinson registered a sack but was otherwise inconspicuous.

Clint Sintim did not have the same impact that he had against Carolina, but once again registered at least two pressures and had one nice tackle in the backfield.

Defensive Backs: Starting CB Aaron Ross was out again, allowing Terrell Thomas another start.  Thomas had a decent game, but dropped a sure interception that would have ended Chicago’s second TD drive.  CB Kevin Dockery saw most of his action in the nickel.

CB Bruce Johnson once again played the majority of the game, and got burned on one long pass where he received no safety help, but other than that looked pretty solid.

S C.C. Brown started in place of the injured Kenny Phillips and led the team with eight tackles.  Again, unheralded Travonti Johnson had a good game, registering four more tackles and seemingly having the instincts to be around the ball carrier at all times.  He’s really played well in the two preseason games.  Backup S Sha’reff Rashad missed filling the hole on an 11 yard run by RB Garrett Wolfe, whiffing badly at the point of impact.  To make it even worse, after whiffing on the play, he rolled into DT Jay Alford, injuring the key lineman.

For the second game in a row, FS Michael Johnson looked like he was lost out on the field.  He had a very bad pass interference penalty on a play where if he just waits for the ball to arrive, he easily breaks it up.  In run support, he continues to look timid and unwilling to stick his nose in the play.  He also failed to cover over the top on a long pass, leaving rookie Bruce Johnson alone on an island.  Hopefully Johnson gets his act together soon or Travonti Johnson just might replace him.

Special Teams: P Jeff Feagles continued to consistently place the ball inside the 20 on punts.  One should have been downed on the 2 yard line, but WR David Tyree missed downing the ball.  From his own goaline, Feagles kept the Bears on their side of the field in part thanks to a fantastic open field tackle by LB Jonathan Goff.  Of concern, however, is the amount of kicks that Feagles has been making during this camp and preseason, as there has been no other punter involved this year.

K Lawrence Tynes had a fairly easy day, only kicking off twice and attempting only one FG.  His lone attempt was good from 42 yards.  Neither of his kickoffs reached the end zone, but once again the hang time was solid.

The kickoff coverage team allowed one long return out to the Giants 47 yard line.

The punt team was solid all day long, with the only real issue being Tyree failing to down the ball inside the five when he had the opportunity.

The kickoff return game was solid, and it appears that Danny Ware has the inside track for the kick return duties after bringing one back for 34 yards nearly all on his own.  Moss returned another kick for 25 yards and Bodiford returned the third for 19.

On the punt return team, things still don’t seem to be settled as Moss returned 1 for 5 yards and Manningham muffed his opportunity but did recover the ball.

Coaching: It goes without saying that the Giants did not seem prepared to play this game, and that goes on the head coach and his staff.  Dumb penalties, repeated mistakes, and a lack of any continuity or focus doomed the Giants, especially on defense.  Tom Coughlin is a master at rallying the troops and circling the wagons.  It remains to be seen if a different Giants team shows up next week and how Coughlin’s comments affect them.  As for the offense, several odd formations were used in key times that didn’t seem to fit the down and distance situation.  It appeared that on a couple occasions, specifically second and third and long, the Giants did not put themselves in the best position to run successful plays.

Offensive Player of the Game: This week, Brandon Jacobs gets the nod after setting the tone with several awe inspiring and bruising runs.  Unfortunately, the rest of the offence never woke up to the task (with the exception of Bradshaw).

Defensive Player of the Game: The defense did not have a very good game, but Jonathan Goff stood out as the best playmaker on the field this past Saturday.  Not only did he contribute on defense, but he also had two nice plays on special teams.  Honorable mention goes to Travonti Johnson.

(Box Score – New York Giants at Chicago Bears, August 22, 2009)
Aug 262009
 

August 25, 2009 New York Giants Training Camp Reports: To see the last BBI training camp report for 2009, please visit the Training Camp section of the website.

Giants’ Beat Writer Practice Reports: The following are brief practice reports provided by the NY/NJ beat writers who cover the Giants:

Injury Update – August 25, 2009 New York Giants Training Camp Reports: CB Aaron Ross (hamstring), who returned to practice on Monday re-injured his hamstring injury yesterday during the final practice in Albany. Ross had to be helped off of the field and was later carted off before practice ended.

“Hamstring,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “The poor kid cannot get beyond that. He starts working his way back and he obviously made a sudden move to try to catch back up to a receiver that was going by and…it’s very frustrating because he’s not had a lot of time on the field.”

When asked about the severity of the injury, Coughlin responded, “Not until they do all the tests…Over the course of his career he’s had mild strains from time to time but nothing like this.”

“It felt like someone shot me,” Ross said. “It was cramping in three different places…Hopefully, it won’t take more than 18 days (to recover). The first game is in 19 days.”

Not practicing yesterday were DT/DE Chris Canty (hamstring), DT Jay Alford (knee), LB Antonio Pierce (foot), LB Danny Clark (chin), LB Michael Boley (hip), and OL Orrin Thompson (quad).

Canty returned from his visit with the doctors in New York on Monday. “I know they did some other procedures to try to speed the healing,” said Coughlin.

S Kenny Phillips (knee) and CB Stoney Woodson (ankle) practiced. Boley did some light work on the sidelines.

Aug 252009
 
August 25, 2009 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Morning Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany

This practice concludes the Giants’ 2009 training camp in Albany as well as my ninth year of writing Camp Reports for BBI. It is unlikely that the Giants will return to Albany next summer, so I want to take this opportunity to tell everyone on BBI how much I have enjoyed those nine years. I have had a blast playing hooky from my real job to attend camp and it has been my pleasure to meet so many wonderful BBIers.

I also want to give my special thanks to Pat Hanlon, Vice President of Communications, and to Jon Berger, Senior Director of Football Information, who have treated me with nothing but kindness and respect, as has everyone else connected with the Giants organization. I wish both of them the best of luck and success in the coming season.

This morning’s practice got off to a rocky start when on the first passing play of the 11 on 11’s, CB Aaron Ross defended a pass thrown to WR Steve Smith and wound up writhing in pain on the grass grabbing his hamstring. Any joy that the beat writers on the sideline might have felt about finally leaving Albany and going home was quickly dampened as they collectively groaned at the sad sight of Ross limping off the field.

As the Giants were in helmets, shorts, and shells, there was no real contact between the players. Most of the practice involved running routes and coverages, with a kickoff drill sandwiched in between. Head Coach Tom Coughlin ended the practice early to the whoops of the entire team.

A few plays are worthy of note. WR Hakeem Nicks made a terrific 40 yard TD catch over S Kenny Phillips and S C.C. Brown on a throw from QB Eli Manning in the 2 minute drill. He got behind them and he had to stretch out, but he remained in stride as he made the over the shoulder catch. Nicks also dropped two or three catchable balls. In his defense, the coverage was tight and none of those catches would have been easy.

QB Rhett Bomar and OC Adam Koets managed to mess up another handoff. I really could not see what happened. On the next play, Rhett put up a high and deep pass down the middle. There were three defenders watching it and salivating as they waited for the ball to descend. Suddenly, WR Ramses Barden comes running past them and grabs the ball out of the air without even breaking stride. I call that play “Grand Theft Football.”

WR Domenik Hixon, WR Steve Smith and TE Kevin Boss had their share of receptions. They ran good routes and made easy grabs. TE Travis Beckum had a pair of well-run receptions, as well.

The two best catches by TEs were by Darcy Johnson and Michael Matthews. Johnson plucked a David Carr pass out of the air to beat good coverage by CB Terrell Thomas. It was a fine throw by Carr and it had plenty of zip on it. In the 7 on 7’s, TE Michael Matthews made a diving one-handed grab of an Eli Manning sideline pass.

In the 7 on 7’s, QB Andre’ Woodson threw a ball over WR Sinorice Moss’s head. I was not the only person watching who immediately thought that WR Ramses Barden would have caught it.

Also in the 7 on 7’s, S Kenny Phillips made a fine defense of a QB David Carr pass to TE Travis Beckum and CB Terrell Thomas defended a Carr pass intended for WR Hakeem Nicks. Later in the 2 minute drill, Terrell Thomas defended a Carr pass to WR Derek Hagan who, otherwise had a fine practice.

That concludes today’s camp report.

As I have done in prior years, here are my overall evaluations of training camp:

The Rookies Draft Choices:

First Round – WR Hakeem Nicks, North Carolina: He is still learning and has not gotten sufficient reps to really judge how good he can be. He has demonstrated excellent hands and quickness. He makes a good pivot to turn and run with the catch. He has good size and strength, but he is not a burner. He will have to use his quickness and agility to get open and/or out-fight defenders on a jump ball. Although I expect him to contribute this season, barring injuries, I do not expect him to become a starter this year. He is capable of making amazing catches. The trick will be to learn the Giants’ offensive scheme and perform on a consistent basis. He has a tremendous up side.

Second Round – LB Clint Sintim, Virginia: Big, fast, strong, and talented. He has all the physical attributes that you want in a Sam linebacker. There are things that he can do right now, like rushing the passer, that are of NFL quality. It will take some time and experience before he can become a complete player. Until then, opponents will seek to exploit his rookie inexperience.

I imagine that the current starter, Danny Clark, will give him as much help as possible, because Danny is really a Will linebacker and has been playing out of position for two years. The only way that Danny gets back to the weak side is to force-feed Sintim and make him a starter.

Although Zak DeOssie is called a linebacker, I have not seen him much on the field except on special teams. He is really a short- and long-snapper, not a LB. Zak made the Pro Bowl as a snapper and since we don’t really have any replacement for him at long snapper, I guess he will remain a Giant for another season.

Second Round – OT William Beatty, Connecticut: Although Beatty is a big, strong, talented guy with quick feet, rookie left tackles don’t often waltz out of the draft and into the starting lineup. Beatty makes too many mistakes and spends too much time on his back to be allowed to protect Eli Manning right away. Give him another year or more and he will get stronger and smarter. OG Rich Seubert and OG Chris Snee are nicked up a bit. Would I put Beatty at LT and move OT David Diehl to one of the Guard spots? Absolutely not.

Third Round – WR Ramses Barden, Cal Poly: Ramses is the rookie most likely to make a significant impact this season. At first, I pooh-poohed the idea that he could replace Plaxico Burress. Sure, he’s about the same height and weight as Plax, but there are plenty of 6-6 stiffs out there. However, Ramses (Pronounced: RamsISS) has plenty of talent to go along with his size.

His secret is that he is a very smooth runner – he glides to the ball. This makes it a lot easier for him to keep his balance, keep the ball in view, and pull it out of the air with his huge hands. His height advantage not only makes him more difficult to defend, it makes him easier for Eli Manning to locate on the field. Barden’s long reach lets him catch a pass even if Eli Manning’s throw is a little off target, or would be over the head of an average size receiver.

I expect Barden to make a lot of big plays this season. He is amazingly well-coordinated and under control in his catching mechanics. I predict that he will become a star WR.

On the negative side, although Barden has decent speed for such a big man, he is not as fast as Plaxico Burress was, when Plaxico was a rookie. If Barden were that fast, he would have been drafted in the top ten, like Plaxico. Also, remember that even Plaxico did not have a huge impact as a rookie. Plaxico started 8 games as a rookie, had 22 receptions, for only 273 yards and no TDs.

Third Round – TE Travis Beckum, Wisconsin: I am impressed by his catching ability and his ability to run with the ball after the catch. He is a shifty runner, not a straight ahead plow horse like our other, bigger TEs. Depending on how he is used, he could make a lot of big third down plays for us, when you absolutely need 6 or 7 yards to keep the drive going. Unfortunately, during training camp he has not gotten a lot of balls thrown his way. He is playing mostly with QBs Andre’ Woodson and Rhett Bomar. They barely have enough time to look for their primary receivers, much less check down to look for Beckum.

Fourth Round – HB Andre Brown, North Carolina State: His torn Achilles’ tendon was a tragic blow to the Giants and to his career. Brown had a lot of running ability and would have been a factor on special teams. I have not heard anything optimistic about Brown continuing his football career.

Fifth Round – QB Rhett Bomar, Sam Houston State: Rhett has a very quick release, throws a decent ball, and shows poise in the pocket. However, he is the 4th string QB and he plays with the absolute dregs of the offensive line. He has not been impressive, but that is understandable considering the quality of his offensive line and the massive amount of playbook material that is being shoved down his throat. The best that I can say about Bomar is that in general, Bomar looks better than third string QB Andre’ Woodson, who has more experience and gets more reps in practice.

In any case, Bomar is a long way from being able to help the Giants this season. Although a rookie can improve a whole lot during one season, based on Bomar’s current rawness, my opinion is that the Giants would get a lot more mileage by going with two quarterbacks and filling Bomar’s roster slot with a veteran center/guard.

I’d put Bomar on the practice squad and dare some other team put him on their roster. It will require several years of investment in Bomar before there is even a possibility that he could pay back that investment.

Sixth & Seventh Rounds – CB DeAndre Wright, New Mexico and CB Stoney Woodson, South Carolina: Stoney has perhaps made a few more plays than Wright, both in practice and in the two preseason games, but it is tough to evaluate either of them so soon. They both get beaten in practice on a regular basis. At the moment, I give Woodson the edge to make the roster as the 5th CB.

Last Year’s Rookies:

S Kenny Phillips: He is now a starter and shows tremendous power, speed, and coverage ability in practice. If he continues to improve upon last year, he will be a star in the NFL. He is living up to his potential as a first round pick.

CB Terrell Thomas: He has looked excellent in practice and has filled in as a starter without much, if any, drop-off in performance. Like S Kenny Phillips, he is living up to his potential.

WR Mario Manningham: Mario remains something of a question mark because of his injuries and lack of playing time last year. He can make cuts that leave his defender just standing there watching. He has made some fine plays during practice and in preseason. He has shown potential as a punt returner and he has the speed and receiving talent to be a top-notch receiver. However, because of his lack of playing time, he is little more than a rookie. More often than you would like, he is not on the same page as the QB. Sometimes, Mario is not even on any page at all. If Mario can put all the pieces together, he could become a starter. Until then, he has a lot of learning to do and a lot of experience to get under his belt before he can consistently make a big impact for the Giants.

LB Bryan Kehl: Like CB Terrell Thomas, this second year player is now a starter on the Giants due to an injury. Also like Terrell, he is doing a good job at it. The Giants had acquired veteran LB Michael Boley in the offseason and anointed him the starter at Will linebacker. Boley was injured and Bryan has filled in as the starter. The Giants would be up the creek without Kehl, because their only other experienced Will linebacker is the perennially injured and virtually untested, LB Gerris Wilkinson.

Bryan seems to be a smart player and I expect that he will continue to improve. We can only hope that he remains healthy and does not fall victim to the sophomore jinx. When Boley gets healthy, it could still take him most of the season to adjust to the Giants defensive scheme. I say this because that is how long it took LBs Antonio Pierce and Kawika Mitchell to adjust when they joined the team.

MLB Jonathan Goff: Goff was injured last year, and it is too soon to make much of a judgment about him. However, he has shown some promise in practice and in preseason games. He is still behind starter LB Antonio Pierce and reserve LB Chase Blackburn, but Goff is only 24. He is bigger and a lot younger than Pierce and faster than Blackburn, so he has the potential to be a keeper.

QB André Woodson: Woodson still has the strongest arm on the team and Coach Coughlin says that he is a hard worker. He has improved in his ability to find open receivers, but I don’t think he has improved to the point where he could enter a game and help the Giants. At best, he will spend another year on the practice squad improving his judgment and his ability to read defenses. He remains primarily what he was as a rookie – a big guy with a strong arm, who is very raw.

DE Robert Henderson: Henderson is yet another unknown quantity because of injuries. It is hard to evaluate defensive linemen in practice and he is playing with the fourth team in the preseason games. With stars like Osi, Kiwi, and Tuck at defensive end, it will be hard for Henderson to get a roster spot. At the moment, rookie DE Maurice Evans seems to have the advantage over him and Evans will have the best chance of beating out veteran DE Dave Tollefson to secure the fourth DE slot on the squad. Evans has played well in the preseason, showing good pass rushing ability, strength, and speed – but the edge goes to veteran Tollefson.

The Rest of the Team:

QB Eli Manning: Eli looks very comfortable throwing the ball to WRs Domenik Hixon and Steve Smith and to TE Kevin Boss. That comfort level is clearly the result of the many reps they have taken together. I am encouraged by this. In the NFL, “familiarity breeds completions.” It will take a while, maybe most of the season, before Eli begins to feel as comfortable with rookies WR Ramses Barden, WR Hakeem Nicks, TE Travis Beckum, and almost-rookie WR Mario Manningham.

I was disappointed that during practice I did not see any drills designed to improve Eli’s mobility and elusiveness. There were few, if any, roll-outs or sprint-outs in practice. I was hoping for plays designed to open up new passing lanes and/or give his young receivers more time to get open. I said to myself, if a clumsy QB like Kerry Collins, could improve in this area, shouldn’t Eli give it a try?

I can only conclude that Eli will remain a pure drop-back QB. His detractors would call him “one dimensional.” In order for the Giants to do well, Eli has to be surrounded by WRs who get open consistently and who are in sync with him. He will also need healthy offensive linemen who will give him time to throw and who can open big holes for the running backs (which also decreases the pass rush).

If the offensive line and/or wide receivers are nicked up or unavailable, do not expect Eli to leave the pocket to buy more time to throw or to run with the ball when no receivers are open. Eli may do that if the situation is dire enough, but that is not Eli’s game. If his receivers are covered, there is little Eli can do other than throw the ball away. With all that being said, Eli and a healthy offense have enough talent to go to the Super Bowl. If they don’t get there, the most likely cause will be injuries and general bad luck.

QB David Carr: Carr still makes some bad throws and mistakes in judgment, but he is clearly a capable NFL back up QB. He is better than either Woodson or Bomar by a wide margin.

Carr is mobile, athletic, tough, and competitive. He is not afraid to hang onto the ball and take a hit. Carr gets in trouble when he uses poor judgment in the pocket. Carr has to get better at not leaving the pocket too early and messing up the receiving pattern. Conversely, he has to learn when to throw the ball away rather than take a sack. Unfortunately for the Giants, when he finally learns these things, he will probably become a starter on another team.

WR Steve Smith: Steve has been nicked up and has not gotten a whole lot of reps in practice. From what I have seen, Eli is comfortable throwing to him and there does not seem to be a reason, barring injury, why Steve and Eli will not continue to improve as a quality passing combination.

WR Domenik Hixon: Okay, regardless of what Eli Manning may have said about “wide receiving by committee,” Hixon has all the earmarks of being the Giants number one receiver. He has the requisite size, speed, and talent for getting open and catching the ball. At practice, the Hixon-Eli combination is the closest to pitch and catch on the team.

When I say “pitch and catch” I mean that the passing route was run the way it was drawn up and it turns into an “easy” completion. When the play is not executed the way it was drawn up, the players have to improvise to get a reception. The result is sometimes a circus catch, but more often than not, the result is an incomplete pass. Pitch and catch is the gold standard of pass receiving.

Hixon’s number one status probably means that he will not be returning kicks. That is too bad because Hixon is by far, the Giants biggest kick returning threat. He is almost as valuable as a kick returner as he is as a receiver, and that is saying a lot.

WR Sinorice Moss: Moss is short, 5-8, (and he always will be). In the past it has been hard for Eli Manning to find Moss in a crowd, and Moss will seldom win a jump ball. If Moss played for a different team with a different quarterback, he might become a terrific receiver. But on the Giants, Eli Manning is the quarterback and Eli has always had trouble connecting with Moss on a consistent basis. Although Moss has made some big plays in practice, the “pitch and catch” consistency is not there.

In prior years I have preferred WRs Anthony Mix and Brandon London to Moss because they were so much taller and were bigger targets for Eli Manning. This year I prefer WR Derek Hagan. Derek is a veteran receiver. Not only is he 6 inches taller than Moss, but he has excelled in camp. At 6-2, Hagan has good size and decent speed. He has the ability to make tough catches and seldom drops easy ones. I doubt that Hagan makes the roster unless he has a super game in one of the two remaining preseason games. Give Moss the edge as 6th receiver.

WR David Tyree: David’s Super Bowl heroics and his poignant personal history make him the sentimental favorite of Giants fans. Unfortunately, neither Head Coach Tom Coughlin, nor the Giants’ brass are known for being very sentimental. Tyree has dropped a lot of passes in practice and has not done anything remarkable in the two preseason games. Tyree is not a good enough receiver to play in the NFL. In prior years, he has made the team based on his fine special teams play. This year, that is unlikely to be enough. WRs Shaun Bodiford and Taye Biddle are better receivers than Tyree and they have almost no chance of making the squad.

Frankly, if WR Derek Hagan does not make the team, I could see the Giants going with only five wide receivers and using the extra slot for one of the squads that has been hit by a lot of injuries. TE Travis Beckum is the reason that we might opt for only five WRs. I expect Beckum to be the fourth WR in the 4-WR formation. That would allow us to have four dangerous receiving threats on the field while giving Eli Manning more pass protection from the 240 pound Beckum (and a bigger target), than he would have if the fourth receiver were the 185 pound Sinorice Moss.

RBs Brandon Jacobs, Ahmad Bradshaw, and HB Danny Ware: In my opinion, the most significant and encouraging improvement on the Giants team has been the greatly improved receiving of the running backs. They have all caught passes consistently in practice. In the preseason games they have turned their receptions into big plays. This is a thrilling and game-changing development. If you have to put a defender on a running back, that is one less receiver that you can double team.

Consider this situation: On 1st down we gain only three yards, leaving 2nd down and 7. The opponent and everyone else in the stadium, knows that Eli is now going to pass. Last year, if the intermediate receivers were all covered, Eli was forced to chuck the ball deep and it was usually incomplete. The incomplete pass brings up 3rd down and 7 and a predictably heavy rush. But this year, on 2nd and 7, Eli may finally be able to check down to a running back in the flat and pick up an easy five yards, say, leaving 3rd down and only 2 – a much more manageable third down.

Here is what I wrote last year in my final Camp Report:

Regrettably, neither of them [Jacobs and Bradshaw] has demonstrated Tiki Barber’s flair for receiving. That would add a huge new dimension to the Giants offense. On third down, if all the wide receivers are covered, a simple dump-off pass to Jacobs or Bradshaw say, coming off a chip block, could keep a drive going or provide a big gain. So far, I am not encouraged about their receiving, but you never know.

Did you see all the catches made by our running backs in the Carolina Panthers game? Who says wishes don’t come true?

HB Danny Ware: I don’t think that the Giants are going to miss HB Derek Ward very much. Danny Ware has dropped a few pounds and in terms of size, speed, kick returning, and receiving ability, Ware is a virtual clone of Ward. In terms of shiftiness, I might even give the edge to Ware.

HB Allen Patrick: The injury to Andre Brown may have opened the door for a spot on the team for Patrick. He is the fastest, and lightest, running back. He has good straight ahead speed, but is not a shifty runner and is not going to break a whole lot of tackles running up the middle. Still, he is a fine receiver and runs around end very well. My guess is that his making the roster hinges on how well he plays on special teams and whether he can pass block a little.

TEs Kevin Boss, Michael Matthews, Darcy Johnson, and Lee Vickers: All four of them are huge. Boss is the starter. He and rookie Travis Beckum will make the team and leave only one TE slot open for Matthews, Johnson, or Vickers. Darcy Johnson has many more catches in camp than the other two, but Matthews is the better blocker and H-Back. Vickers is a long shot. He has shown a lot of talent in the few passes that have come his way and he is a talented long snapper. All three of them have sufficient talent to be the second or third TE on an NFL roster. Wouldn’t it be nice if the Giants could swap one or two of them for a back up center/guard?

OT Guy Whimper: With the arrival of second round OT William Beatty, Whimper is going to be a RT or nothing. Since Adam Koets is now playing center, it looks as if there is no real competition for Whimper at RT, thus Whimper will make the team.

OG Kevin Boothe and Tutan Reyes: Boothe played out of position at tackle last year and was the first guard or tackle off the bench. This year, it looks like Reyes is the first guard off the bench. One of them will definitely be kept; maybe both, depending on the health of the starting guards Rich Seubert and Chris Snee.

OT Adam Koets: Apparently he was switched to center to salvage his career. Koets is not the second coming of Mike Webster, or even of Grey Ruegamer. During training camp Adam made the transition from being quite horrible to being better than nothing. I do not discount the possibility that Koets may someday become a useful center, but I would be shocked if GM Jerry Reese did not acquire a veteran back up center after the final roster cuts are made.

DTs Chris Canty, Fred Robbins, Barry Cofield, Jay Alford, and Rocky Bernard: These five are a virtual murder’s row at defensive tackle. They are the point of the spear in the Giants defensive attack. Currently, they all have injury issues of unknown severity. If we have to depend on the likes of DTs Leger Douzable, Jeremy Clark, and Anthony Bryant to collapse the pocket into QBs Tony Romo, Michael Vick, and Donovan McNabb, we will be drafting rookies in the 10-15 range next year.

DEs Mathias Kiwanuka, Osi Umenyiora, Justin Tuck Mathias Kiwanuka: Barring health issues, I see nothing in practice to prevent them from continuing to be splendid players for us this year.

CBs Corey Webster, CB Aaron Ross: They are the established starters and they also have had their share of injuries. If healthy, they will only become better. Kevin Dockery is only 5-8, but he is quick, athletic, and a gritty tackler. CB Terrell Thomas may challenge him for the nickel back position this season, but will probably start the season filling in as a starter for the currently injured CB Aaron Ross.

S C.C. Brown: C.C. is a veteran safety the Giants picked up this year. He has played well in the preseason games. He could challenge S Michael Johnson for his starting safety slot.

DBs Travonti Johnson, Sha’reff Rashad, Vince Anderson, and Bruce Johnson: Here are a bunch of defensive backs who have talent and at one time or another, have shined in training camp. Travonti Johnson probably has the best shot at making the team as the fourth Safety.

Coaching: If the injury bug strikes, there is not much a coach can do to make his team win. The current crop of injuries is even preventing the coaches from properly evaluating the quarterbacks and receivers because they depend on healthy linemen to execute pass plays.

A healthy Giants team will be a Super Bowl contender, but if the current injury situation does not improve, the Giants will have real problems winning in the tough NFC East. Of course, Tom Coughlin, Jerry Reese, and Eli Manning would still take the blame. Apparently, a team needs to lose its star quarterback (say, Tom Brady) before the fans will accept that injuries, rather than human misconduct, can cause a team to lose.

Aug 252009
 

August 24, 2009 New York Giants Training Camp Reports: The following are brief practice reports provided by the NY/NJ beat writers who cover the Giants:

Injury Update: Not practicing in the afternoon were DT/DE Chris Canty (hamstring), DT Jay Alford (knee), LB Antonio Pierce (foot), LB Danny Clark (chin), LB Michael Boley (hip), CB Stoney Woodson (ankle), and OL Orrin Thompson (quad).

Canty was sent to Manhattan to be examined by team doctors.

S Kenny Phillips (knee) left practice early. “They slowed him down again. We’ve got to work our way through that,” said Coughlin.

Training Camp Ends Today: The 2009 Giants summer training camp ends today in Albany, New York with a morning practice (8:35-10:35AM). For the rest of the year, practices will be held at the Meadowlands and closed to the public.

Article on QB David Carr: NY Giants Backup Quarterback David Carr Has Learned From Past Experiences To Not Expect Compliments From Assistant Coach Chris Palmer by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Article on LB Jonathan Goff: Giants’ Goff Tries To Make Up For Lost Rookie Year by Tom Rock of Newsday

Notes and Quotes: With DT/Long Snapper Jay Alford sidelined, LB Zak DeOssie will now also long snap for field goals and extra points. Alford continues to be the regular short snapper for punts. “I’m excited about it,” DeOssie said. “It’s a sad thing that Jay went down, but I’ve been practicing a lot of short snaps, so I’m ready for the test.”