by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany
It was hot and sunny and the Giants were in “uppers.” That’s helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts. It allows for more contact than with shells, but less than with full pads. All in all, there might have been a little too much contact at the practice. On a pass that was beyond the reach of WR Ramses Barden and CB Stoney Woodson, the two of them chased the pass for about 10 yards with the 6-6 Barden’s left arm wrapped around the 5-10 Woodson’s helmet in a sort of headlock.
It looked silly and almost affectionate. Was this a foolish attempt by Barden to slow Woodson down? In any case, it would have been a penalty, and more importantly, it was a very dangerous. It could have resulted in a severe injury to Woodson.
Late in the practice, the defense got a lot of penetration on an Eli Manning pass and, as he was throwing the ball, his arm came in contact with a defender. Perhaps his throwing motion hit the upraised arms of a defender. The ball tumbled a few feet forward onto the ground. It looked to me as if it was DE Osi Umenyiora who hit him, but I was told that it was S Michael Johnson. (I usually have no trouble telling them apart.) This was one of the scary moments in football that are impossible to avoid, try as you might.
At the start of the practice, there was a guy on the sideline who was obviously an athlete – very muscular, about 6-2, 200-210. When God gave out body parts, this guy was at the front of the line. It turns out that he is unemployed at the moment and came to the practice with the hopes of playing for the Giants. We discussed the team and the draftees a bit and I wished him good luck as he was leaving after the practice. If only the guy were 100 pounds heavier and could play center. (Yes folks, OT cum Center Adam Koets botched yet another snap when he and QB Andre’ Woodson hooked up to put the ball on the ground.)
Here is my parting shot in the Defensive Coordinator “sidelines vs. booth” debate. If you have been to training camp, you have seen the camera towers. These are two crane-like structures on wheels from which the Giants make videos of every practice. These towers collapse to about 10 feet high and are adjustable up to 40 feet tall when fully extended. I know this because this afternoon I asked the guy who does the filming. Mind you, these videos are not intended to be great cinema. They are exclusively for analytical purposes. So if the question is:“What is the best height from which to analyze football plays: ground level, 10 feet, 20 feet, or 40 feet?” The answer is clearly 40. QED.
The offense held its own today. When the Giants have worn shoulder pads, the offense seems to make more plays. Maybe it allows the offensive line to reduce the amount of penetration. There was still quite a bit of penetration and there would have been sacks in a real game if the QBs had held on to the ball as long as they did.
In general, I thought QBs Eli Manning, David Carr, and even Andre’ Woodson were improving in their accuracy. Many of the incomplete passes were outright drops, bobbles, and poor timing, which could be just as easily have been the fault of the receiver as the QB. For example, an Eli Manning pass went right through the arms of the defender and bounced off WR Ramses Barden’s chest for an incompletion. It was a good pass, but shoulder pads are not as forgiving as shells and Barden needed to get his big hands in front of the ball. Early on, Eli sprinted out to his right and threw to WR Domenik Hixon who had to come back for the ball, it was nearly a sliding catch. Hixon had a good day with several completions which were well executed.
Eli opened the 11 on 11′s with a slant to WR Mario Manningham who took off like a rocket. Mario had another catch – the Giants were practicing line of scrimmage catches today – in which he demonstrated his ability to dodge and twist and make tacklers miss. The next pass was a pass in the flat to FB Madison Hedgecock. Madison only had eight catches last year, so the element of surprise should help him this year.
Steve Smith still does not play. He is often seen around the Juggs gun catching balls. The Juggs gun can throw the ball at 40 and 50 mph (I asked). The “Juggs” gun is not quite as dangerous as the “Burress” gun, but it still packs a punch.
WR Hakeem Nicks was back and he made perhaps the catch of the day. It was a 40 yard pass over the middle from QB Rhett Bomar (certainly his best throw in recent memory) and Nicks caught it and ran it for a TD while being chased by four defenders. Nicks also caught a short pass from QB David Carr. Nicks came back for the ball and caught it in front of the defender. Well done, Hakeem!
WR Ramses Barden seems to get better every day. He is very coordinated for such a big man. He glides when he runs and he does not fight the ball. If he has to leap for a catch, it is a well-timed leap and he lands on his feet, instead of all higgledy-piggledy.
WR Derek Hagan continues to make catch after catch and looks good doing it. The only negative thing that I can think of is that he is doing it against the reserve defenders rather than against the starters.
HB Ahmad Bradshaw had a fine day catching the ball, including a well-executed screen pass from Eli Manning. TE Lee Vickers out-fought S Travonti Johnson for a sideline catch and TE Darcy Johnson caught a pass over the middle. Note to 5-8 CB Kevin Dockery: find someone else to cover 6-5 TE Kevin Boss. Boss caught two in a row.
Okay, on the defensive side of the ball. S Sha’reff Rashad intercepted a QB Rhett Bomar pass, DE Mathias Kiwanuka blocked a David Carr (?) pass at the line of scrimmage, S Travonti Johnson batted away a pass, and S C.C. Brown made good penetration on a blitz for a nominal sack. CB Terrell Thomas had a fine pass defense of an Eli pass intended for WR Ramses Barden, but on the next play, Barden caught one over Thomas.
S Kenny Phillips flies around all over the field. A lot of the receivers would have gotten flattened by Phillips right after catching the ball, if this had been a real game. On the other hand, and I am sorry to have to report this, LB Zak DeOssie (and it was the only time I noticed him today) got caught in no man’s land. There was nobody within 20 yards of him. It appeared to me that he did not even know where the ball was.