by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany
First, a quick comment about QB Eli Manning and his princely remuneration of 97 million dollars. Are the Giants paying him too much? Is he getting more than other quarterbacks who are better than he is?
Consider this: it may be really hard to play well in New York. Other fairly good QBs, like Kerry Collins and Kurt Warner, to name two, were let go by Giants. Contrary to the opinion of many, they were not washed up as starters. They played very well and prospered on other teams in other cities not named New York. As they say at the Saratoga track, a half hour up the road from training camp, “there are horses for courses.”
The Giants practiced in “uppers” – helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts, rather than in full pads. There was more contact this morning, but hopefully there will be even more tonight, when they wear full pads.
I’m thinking that the Giants quarterbacks realize that there have been far too many interceptions so they stopped putting every pass up for grabs by the defense. The fact that there was no wind must have helped, too. Also, there were noticeably fewer passes thrown this morning. It looked like the offense was working on tosses to running backs.
When QB Eli Manning did throw, he made a lot of completions by throwing the ball at waist level and below, where only the receiver could get it. To me, this was a tip of the hat to the swarming defense. It prevented interceptions, but it necessitated a lot of sliding catches with no yards after the catch.
There was more punting practice with DT Jay Alford doing the snapping. In the limited number of snaps that I watched, Jay looked excellent. Clearly, the Giants would like to have both Jay and LB Zak DeOssie able to perform both the field goal and the punt snaps, in case either of them is injured. Speaking of DeOssie, I love his size and speed, but I have yet to see either Zak or Gerris Wilkinson make a sparkling defensive play at linebacker. Zak may be a Pro Bowl snapper, but he may become expendable if Alford improves at punt snapping.
On the punt returns it was still WRs Mario Manningham, Sinorice Moss, and Domenik Hixon and HB Ahmad Bradshaw fielding the punts, but only Mario and Sinorice were told to run a punt back as well. Both looked very fast and elusive, although there was no real attempt to hit them by the coverage team. Perhaps punt returning will be a factor in deciding whether Moss or Manningham will be among the 46 players who dress for the game.
As mentioned before, the quarterbacks were more careful with their passes and I don’t believe that there were any interceptions. There were a few close calls. CB Terrell Thomas nearly picked off a QB David Carr pass intended for TE Lee Vickers and S Travonti Johnson was the closest player to a deep, deep Eli Manning pass. CB Kevin Dockery was the next closest player to that pass. CB Vince Anderson nearly had another pick to add to his two yesterday, when he got in the way of a David Carr pass, but he could not hold on to it.
Two plays that happened at the end of the practice are noteworthy. First of all, let me say that the fans cheer good plays and pretty much ignore everything else. Second, most of the passing is done with the receivers running away from the goal line (and the fans).
At the end of the practice the Giants offense played in the opposite direction– towards the fans. WR Hakeem Nicks got wide open on the goal line directly in front of about 800 fans. He was in perfect position to catch an Eli Manning TD bomb. Eli hit him in stride right in his large upraised hands. Maybe Nicks was thinking that he would receive a huge cheer (there had been little, if any, this morning), but the ball bounced off his hands and onto the ground. All around me 800 jaws dropped in disbelief. Oh! The humanity!
The last play of the day was, I think, a message to the quarterbacks from the coaches. The starting offense lined up– against nobody! The defense remained on the sidelines. Eli called the signals, O’Hara snapped it, and WR Steve Smith ran down the sideline about 20 yards. Eli then threw the ball ten feet over Smith’s head and out of bounds. Apparently, the Giants practice EVERYTHING, including throwing the ball away!
C Tutan Reyes continued to fill in at left guard for Rich Seubert. OG Kevin Boothe is still the third string center. Boothe and QB Rhett Bomar did botch a snap today, and OT Adam Koets and QB David Carr put a ball on the ground as well.
The defense was again playing great and it was not just the defensive backfield. They just about planted HB Allen Patrick on one running play and LB Clint Sintim was in the offensive backfield to blow up a handoff to HB Danny Ware. The defense was also there to crush HB Andre Brown on a handoff.
There were some good offensive plays, too. Eli Manning faked a handoff to HB Ahmad Bradshaw and gave it to WR Sinorice Moss on a reverse that fooled the defense and allowed Sinorice to get around end and run down field. Eli is such a good ball handler. If the Giants wanted to invent a few “hidden ball” plays, Eli could execute them as well as any quarterback I have ever seen.
Eli Manning threw the ball to what looked like an unoccupied spot on the field about 20 yards away. Suddenly, WR Sinorice Moss came out of nowhere to grab it and run away with it. HB Andre Brown showed great speed running around end. Remember, he is a lot larger than HB Ahmad Bradshaw. Brown also made a sparkling reception over the middle as did TE Travis Beckum, who got wide open in the 7 on 7s.
WR Ramses Barden may look slow to some people, but I disagree. He caught one pass in the 7 on 7s where he collided with the defender and they both went down, but Ramses still got up and continued to run.