by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany
NFL Refs Attend a Spirited Practice
The practice began with a drill where the running backs were given footballs on a long rope. Actually, they were very sturdy elastic bands. One back would carry the ball and another back would anchor the other end of the band. In the case of HB Brandon Jacobs, it would be two backs anchoring the band. The backs were having a good time with this, but the blocking drill that followed it was even more fun.
Four backs were each given a thick pad about 18 inches square. They lined up about five yards apart and the remaining backs would carry the ball in one arm and forcefully run into the pad with their opposite shoulder. The players holding the pads were not shy about trying to give the runners a good pop with the pad as they ran past. HB Brandon Jacobs got a bit carried away and knocked HB Andre Brown about a foot in the air and clear off course.
Having lost all his momentum, Brown wanted to stop, but Jacobs was only the third guy in line so all the backs yelled at Brown until he went back and did the drill over again. In the drill and during the rest of the practice, Brown was using more leg drive than I had seen him use previously. A good sign.
During this drill and in some others I have heard players like Jacobs, CB Aaron Ross, and S Antrel Rolle screaming or roaring with impressive loudness and for no other reason than sheer exuberance. It reminded me of Whitman’s “I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world.” In addition to “yawping,” there were confrontations between players this evening.
The team was in shoulder pads and shorts so the hitting was brisk. Players were flying to the ball, falling down, and knocking other players down. CB Bruce Johnson continues to pound receivers when he gets the chance. CB Courtney Brown and WR Nyan Boateng went after each other hissing and kicking at the line of scrimmage, and I believe it was HB Brandon Jacobs and S Deon Grant, who had to be separated to allow them to cool off.
Getting back to the more mundane parts of the practice, NFL referees were on the field during the practice. So far as I could tell, their presence was more ornamental than useful. If they made any calls at all, I did not see them.
Every year, the NFL sends a contingent of referees to training camp to update the team on the latest rules changes. The media (not including me) is usually invited to this potential snoozefest, so it is only my presumption that the rules update was why the refs were at the practice.
C Shaun O’Hara played in both the evening and morning practice sessions. That’s a good sign. WR Hakeem Nicks was back in action and looks to be better than ever when catching the ball. That’s another good sign.
P Matt Dodge punted about a dozen and a half times. CB Aaron Ross, WR Mario Manningham, and WR Tim Brown did the catching. Jeff Feagles was on the field today working with Dodge.
Dodge made some fine punts, but many were short. The good news is that the short punts generally rolled another fifteen to twenty yards. I believe that Dodge has plenty of leg strength and plenty of talent. He just needs to get more consistent.
In the field goal drill, K Lawrence Tynes missed his first two tries at 30 and 34 yards, but then made kicks of 36, 40, 42, 42, 45, and 47. There was no wind on this hot and muggy evening.
CB D.J. Johnson has been having a very poor camp. He has made very few plays and has allowed a multitude of receptions. If he does not improve in a hurry, I would say that he will be gone on the first cut.
On the other side of the coin, WR Ramses Barden had an excellent practice, including its best catch. In the 11 on 11s, he was covered perfectly by CB Aaron Ross, but Ramses just out-fought him for the ball. His height helped, but he had to make tumbling catch holding onto the ball with just one hand. Barden also caught an Eli Manning pass and put a move on S Michael Johnson making the defender miss him by about two yards.
Later on, Ross made up for the Barden catch by intercepting a QB Jim Sorgi pass intended for WR Victor Cruz.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul showed some speed and agility in what appeared to be coverage of WR Tim Brown on a pass play. Jason put his arm around Brown and if Jason had a pocket, he could have fit Brown into it. LB Keith Bulluck continues to show speed working with the second team defense. He put a nice hit on HB D.J. Ware on a running play.
In the 7 on 7s, CB Courtney Brown had a good pass defense on a Sorgi pass intended for WR Duke Calhoun, while CB Seth Williams had an easy interception of a QB Rhett Bomar pass intended for WR Tim Brown.
DE Mathias Kiwanuka swatted down an Eli pass at the line of scrimmage. Eli threw a touch pass to HB Ahmad Bradshaw over the middle. I’d like to see Eli complete a lot of touch passes.