by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany
Punter Matt Dodge Redeems Himself
This afternoon Matt Dodge punted much better than what he showed yesterday. In the first part of practice he punted (by my count) 14 times. Only one of them was short and low. One went out of bounds. It was probably aided by a significant cross wind into the face of the punter. Nevertheless, even this punt went far enough to be acceptable.
Later in the practice he kicked six more times, with five of them being of acceptable height and distance. In addition to the improvement in the percentage of good kicks, I am encouraged by the fact that he handled the ball more cleanly than yesterday despite a number of imprecise long snaps by LB Zak DeOssie. The punts were into the wind and Dodge was being rushed by the defense. Let’s not write this guy off after only two days.
CB Aaron Ross, WR Adam Jennings, and WR Mario Manningham handled the punt returns. They only caught the ball they did not run with it.
C Shaun O’Hara continued to sit out practice and was replaced by C Adam Koets and C Jim Cordle (with the third team).
WR Hakeem Nicks returned to the field this afternoon. Two early chest high passes to him bounced…no clattered off his big hands. He made up for this with a catch that I was watching all the way. Nicks was lined up on the right covered by CB Corey Webster. At the snap he ran about 8 yards and cut to the left over the middle. Webster was on him like glue and was joined by S Antrel Rolle to sandwich Nicks in. I’m thinking, “Eli would be crazy to throw to Nicks,” but Eli did and Nicks somehow caught it. Nicks looked a whole lot better the rest of the practice.
FB Jerome Johnson is making a lot of people take notice of him. He is a large guy at 6-1, 265 but he has enough speed to get open and make a bunch of catches. He must have made at least three or four catches today. Even based on this small number of receptions, I think that it is fair to say that Johnson has easily as much foot speed and far more receiving talent than FB Madison Hedgecock. Whether Johnson can block will have to wait until the preseason games. Blocking is a FB’s stock and trade. Receiving is just icing on the cake.
TE Travis Beckum has not made any plays so far in camp. He has dropped some passes and others may have been poorly thrown. TE Bear Pascoe, who has the reputation of being an excellent blocker, has also outshone Travis as a receiver. This afternoon, Pascoe made an excellent underneath catch after the area had been cleared out by Hakeem Nicks. If the Giants have designed a place for Beckum in their offensive scheme, it has yet to become apparent where that place is.
The Giants defense, under DC Perry Fewell, seems pretty energized. At the beginning of practice, the defense outfoxed QB Eli Manning in the 11 on 11s to the extent that he had to throw two passes in a row out of bounds.
Earlier, in one of the defensive drills, S Sha’reff Rashad dropped a ball and gave himself punishment pushups. In another drill, S Michael Johnson did not hang onto a ball and Safeties Coach Dave Merritt yelled, “Don’t drop it! That’s money! Don’t leave money on the field!” Later in the practice, when it appeared to Fewell that the defense was not moving fast enough, he yelled at the group in a voice that could be heard all over the field, “[expletives deleted]!!”
HB Andre Brown continues to run and catch looking no different than he did last year prior to his injury. Amazing.
In the 7 on 7s WR Steve Smith made a spectacular sideline catch of a Manning pass. It looked like the ball covered about 45 yards. Steve laid out for it and landed just in bounds. Certainly, it was the best catch of the day. WR Derek Hagan had several catches and looked good making them.
Also in the 7 on 7s, CB Aaron Ross made an outstanding pass defense when he batted away a QB Jim Sorgi pass that was intended for WR Ramses Barden.