Aug 252010
 
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Roster Moves: The Giants have signed S Matt O’Hanlon and waived/injured S Michael Greco (knee). 

August 24, 2010 New York Giants Training Camp Report: An overview of Tuesday’s practice at the Timex Performance Center is available from the The Star-Ledger.

August 24, 2010 New York Giants Injury Report: Not practicing yesterday were QB Jim Sorgi (shoulder/ribs), HB D.J. Ware (concussion), WR Ramses Barden (back), H-Back Travis Beckum (neck), OC Shaun O’Hara (ankle), OG Kevin Boothe (PUP – chest), DE Jason Pierre-Paul (groin), LB Chase Blackburn (knee), CB Aaron Ross (foot), S Michael Johnson (back), and S Sha’reff Rashad (concussion).

Pierre-Paul apparently injured his groin against the Steelers and had to leave practice early on Monday. “It is nothing,” Pierre-Paul said. “I’m just being safe with it. Nothing negative. I don’t even know (how it happened), it is just something that happened. It is nothing really. I should be fine Saturday.”

DT Chris Canty, who was injury-plagued last season, apparently injured his groin in practice yesterday. “I won’t know anything with Canty until they get inside and take a look,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin.

CB Aaron Ross went to Charlotte, NC to seek another opinion on the plantar fasciitis in his right foot. Ross was seen wearing a protective walking boot on Monday.

O’Hara’s ankle is apparently bothering him again and he did not practice. “He’s just sore,” said Coughlin. “That’s it. The ankle. It had some swelling. Hopefully he can get that under control.”

Ware and Rashad have both been ruled out of the game against the Ravens on Saturday.

Article on TE Kevin Boss: Kevin Boss’ Ankle Appears To Finally Be Healing, Getting Stronger by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Articles on the Giants’ Linebackers and Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell’s System:

Article on LB Keith Bulluck: Giants Move Keith Bulluck Back to OLB by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com

Aug 242010
 
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August 22, 2010 New York Giants Practice Report: An overview of Monday’s practice at the Timex Performance Center is available from The Star-Ledger.

August 22, 2010 New York Giants Injury Report – Ross, Johnson, and Barden “Week to Week”: Not practicing yesterday were QB Jim Sorgi (shoulder/ribs), HB D.J. Ware (concussion), WR Ramses Barden (back), OG Kevin Boothe (PUP – chest), LB Chase Blackburn (knee), CB Aaron Ross (foot), S Michael Johnson (back), and S Sha’reff Rashad (concussion).

The Giants revealed yesterday that Aaron Ross is suffering from plantar fasciitis in one of his feet. The condition is what Manning suffered from last season. The Giants say Ross will not practice or play this week and he will be re-evaluated on a week-to-week basis.

“It’s a big swollen heel,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin of Ross’ injury. “Eli got it under control pretty quick and played with it, but it’s a different position.”

Also on a week-to-week basis are Ramses Barden and Michael Johnson. Barden has a stress fracture in his transverse process in his back and Johnson has an issue with one of his discs in his back. Like Ross, both will not practice this week or play against the Ravens on Saturday. However, Coughlin did say that Barden might be able to return next week. “Maybe in a week he can go back,” Coughlin said. “It’s a pain thing, as I understand it. If you can handle the pain, you can go.”

Regarding Johnson, Coughlin said, “They tried one treatment, obviously that one didn’t work, now they’re going to go ahead and try another. But in the meantime we’re all standing here and we could use him.”

The injury-prone H-Back Travis Beckum left practice early. “Travis has some kind of a thing in his neck.” Coughlin said. “It’s not anything to do with his hamstring or anything. He’s had a little muscular problem in his neck earlier today. They thought they had it worked out, he comes out here and whatever happened, happened.”

Also leaving practice early was S Michael Greco (knee).

QB Eli Manning (head), HB Brandon Jacobs (neck), OG Chris Snee (knee), and OG Rich Seubert (hand) practiced. Manning is expected to play against the Ravens on Saturday.

Articles on the Offensive Line:

Notes and Quotes: Keith Bulluck saw some practice reps at outside linebacker yesterday. “(It’s) just to make sure he’s familiar – he’s played there all his career – so to make sure he’s familiar so that he can be more versatile,” Head Coach Tom Coughlin said. Coughlin also praised LB Clint Sintim for attacking the line of scrimmage against the Steelers.

Newly signed OL Shawn Andrews is practicing at both left guard and left tackle.

Aug 232010
 
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August 22, 2010 New York Giants Injury Report: QB Eli Manning (head) will return to practice today, but he will not wear a helmet in practice.

“We’re certainly going to be very very careful,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “We do not allow anybody to touch the quarterback, we don’t like coming down the bow, it happens once in a while, but not too often. Most of our guys are really good at – if they do get free, they come up the field past the quarterback. We don’t allow them to put their hands up or put their hands anywhere near where the quarterback’s arm or release point would be. The guys are pretty much aware of that. I think that when you practice under those conditions, you’re going to have to be very sharp. I’m sure we’ll pick our spots, perhaps in the first practice anyway, as we get a feel for what is best.”

QB Jim Sorgi (shoulder) will remain out of practice this week.

HB D.J. Ware and S Sha’reff Rashad, both of whom suffered concussions against the Steelers, will undergo more tests today.

Starting guards Chris Snee (knee) and Rich Seubert (hand) and will practice today.

“The doctors have said that they feel like they can put (Seubert) in a position where he can play this weekend and so Rich would not only get his work this week during practice but also take some snaps in the game,” said Coughlin.

It sounds like HB Brandon Jacobs (neck) will also practice. “I think they’ll get him out to practice,” said Coughlin of Jacobs. “He felt a little bit better today. He had some issues in terms of flexibility and movement in the neck in terms of the muscle contractions but I think that the expectation is that he’ll be able to practice…According to the MRI, it was nothing of a structural nature, it was muscle.”

WR Ramses Barden and S Michael Johnson both apparently have some “structural” issues with their backs, but Coughlin did not elaborate. “Progress is being made, it’s a little bit slow, but it’s being made,” said Coughlin of Barden and Johnson. Coughlin did say that Johnson has a chance to practice this week, but Barden probably not.

Article on HB Andrew Brown: Brown Has Shot To Be Big Blue’s No. 3 Back by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Aug 222010
 
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Giants Fall to Steelers 24-17 in a Snoozer: In a somewhat unexciting preseason contest, the Giants fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-17 in the Giants’ first home preseason game at their new stadium.

With quarterbacks Eli Manning (head) and Jim Sorgi (shoulder) not playing, third-string quarterback Rhett Bomar played the entire game and finished 13-of-26 for 167 yards, no touchdowns, and one interception.

Also missing on offense were starters HB Brandon Jacobs (stiff neck), RG Chris Snee (leg), and LG Rich Seubert. WR Hakeem Nicks was thrown out of the game very early for fighting with a Steeler defender.

The Giants’ starting defense played into the second quarter against the starting offensive of the Steelers. The defensive unit only gave up one scoring drive – a 13-play, 58-yard affair on Pittsburgh’s third possession that resulted in a 26-yard field goal. The Steelers’ second drive ended when CB Corey Webster intercepted a deep pass by QB Ben Roethlisberger.

The Giants’ starting offense struggled on its first three possessions, accruing only one first down on each drive. But after the Steelers went up 3-0, the Giants responded with a 7-play, 75-yard effort that ended with a 9-yard touchdown run by HB Ahmad Bradshaw. The big play on the drive was a spectacular, diving 45-yard reception by WR Steve Smith.

When most of the starters on both teams left the game late in the second quarter, the Giants were leading 7-3.

But shortly before halftime, the Giants’ second-team unit gave up a 68-yard touchdown pass from QB Byron Leftwich to WR Mike Wallace as CB Bruce Johnson was burned deep and third-string safety Michael Greco was late in support.

The Giants responded with a drive from their 18-yard line to the Steelers’ 41-yard line, but with a minute to go before halftime, Bomar threw a terribly errant pass that was intercepted. The Steelers blew a chance to put more points on the board when the Giants’ defense stiffened up at the 1-yard line and time expired on a 3rd-and-goal running play.

At halftime, the Giants trailed 10-7.

In the third quarter, the Giants’ second- and third-team players played dreadful, uninspired defense as the Steelers easily put together two long touchdowns drives and went up 24-7. The Steelers ran right up the middle of the Giants’ defense and passed at will when QB Dennis Dixon threw the ball.

The Giants did tighten up the game in the fourth quarter, scoring 10 points to pull within a touchdown. A 12-play, 74-yard drive that was aided by three Steeler penalties, including a roughing the passer penalty on an incomplete third-down pass, ended with a 1-yard touchdown dive by HB Andre Brown. PK Lawrence Tynes kicked a 42-yard field goal on the next Giants’ possession after the Giants drove 55 yards in 10 plays.

But the Giants could not gain a first down on their final possession of the game, one which started from their own 1-yard line after a muffed punt by WR Victor Cruz. The Steelers then proceeded to run out the clock by gaining two first downs on the ground.

Video highlights of the game are available at NFL.com.

Post-Game Injury Report: HB D.J. Ware and S Sha’reff Rashad left the game with concussions.

Post-Game Notes and Quotes: Not playing for the Giants were QB Eli Manning (head), QB Jim Sorgi (shoulder/ribs), FB Jerome Johnson (arm), WR Ramses Barden (back), OG Chris Snee (knee), OG Rich Seubert (hand), OG Kevin Boothe (PUP – chest), LB Chase Blackburn (knee), and S Michael Johnson (back).

Also not playing were recently signed OG Shawn Andrews and QB Dominic Randolph.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw and S Antrel Rolle did not start because they were being disciplined for missing team meetings.

“I was in the hotel and I read my schedule wrong, so I was late for a special teams meeting,” Rolle said. “I’ve been around long enough to understand there are consequences, so I took it like a man. There is no issue. We’ll move on.”

LB Keith Bulluck (knee) and S Kenny Phillips (knee) played a limited amount of snaps for the first time this preseason. “It felt great just being back out there,” Bulluck said. “I felt great. I guess you could say I am officially a New York Giant.”

Article on OL Shawn Andrews: Difficult Return From Back Injury Motivating Giants Guard Shawn Andrews by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Aug 212010
 
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New York Giants Sign Shawn Andrews: The Giants made a very interesting roster move yesterday when they signed OG Shawn Andrews, a two-time Pro Bowler and the 16th pick overall in the 2004 NFL Draft when he was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles. The contract is supposedly a 6-year, $32.5 million deal with a relatively small ($250,000) signing bonus. $30 million of the contract is due over the last five years of the deal, including $7 million in 2011. If Andrews doesn’t work out, it’s essentially a 1-year, $1.5 million contract as the Giants can cut him with little cost it terms of future salary cap ramifications.

“It can be classified as a ‘prove it’ type of deal,” said Andrew’s agent. “It protects the club initially and, as he’s productive, it works to both parties’ benefit.” According to Andrews’ agent, Andrews received interest from three other teams.

The 27-year old Andrews is a mammoth player (6-4 and 330 pounds) who had rapidly developed into one of the very best offensive linemen in the NFL before his career was sabotaged in 2008 by emotional and physical issues. Andrews only played in two games in 2008 and missed all of the 2009 season due to back issues that required surgery (twice). He was a Pro Bowl alternate in 2005 and a Pro Bowler in 2006 and 2007.

Andrews has also had off-the-field issues. In 2008, he went AWOL from Eagles’ training camp. Andrews claimed he was battling depression and seeking professional help.

The Eagles terminated his contract after he failed a physical in March.

“Our personnel staff has been monitoring Shawn’s progress for awhile now,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “He looks great and had a very good workout for us (on Thursday). He can play both guard and both tackle positions. We just have to take him slow for the rest of the preseason to get him into game shape. Shawn is very excited and grateful for this opportunity to play for the New York Giants.”

“Shawn Andrews,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “A nice job by our personnel people. He came in, worked out. He’s in excellent shape. He’s about 330. We’re excited and we welcome Shawn…He’s been here for a couple of days and he’s had interviews with basically everybody. He’s been to dinner with our personnel people – Jerry Reese. So people have spent a lot of time with him. I spent a good half hour with him yesterday. The quality of the football player that I remember from a couple of years ago is outstanding. Knowing that he went through some issues – he had the back and some other issues that he had to deal with. But, sensing now that he really is motivated and that he really wants to play. He’s just a pleasant young man to visit with. He does indicate to you the kind of desire that he has to get back in the game.”

To make room for Andrews, the Giants waived OL Cliff Louis.

Injury Update: The following players will not play against the Steelers on Saturday night: QB Eli Manning (head), QB Jim Sorgi (shoulder/ribs), WR Ramses Barden (back), OG Chris Snee (knee), OG Rich Seubert (hand), OG Kevin Boothe (PUP – chest), LB Chase Blackburn (knee), and S Michael Johnson (back).

Coughing said Snee and Seubert were both improving. Regarding Seubert, Coughlin said, “Richie is not going to play. They let him practice, but let’s face it, he never really stuck it in there and did anything that would cause him to do any further damage. He’s got a couple of weeks. I think he can perhaps go next week.”

Meanwhile Sorgi does not sound particularly optimistic about his situation. “I don’t know what it all entails, how quickly the rehab and the comeback from it is,” Sorgi said. “(The injury) ended up being a lot worse than I thought it was. It ended up being an injury that is not going to get better in one or two days like I thought it would. I’m just playing it by ear…I can tell when I lift my arm up, it’s hard to hold it out to the side. Over-the-head movement is just not going to happen now. I just hope it happens sooner than later.”

Article on the Giants’ Offense: G-Men’s Biggest Issue Not On ‘D’ by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on WR Victor Cruz: Victor Cruz Making the Grade for Giants by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com

Articles on OL Shawn Andrews:

Aug 202010
 
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Final Training Camp Practice Today: The final training camp practice in Albany will be held this morning. Usually the last practice will be a very light jog-thru.

Injury Report – Jim Sorgi to Miss 2-3 Weeks: Not practicing yesterday were QB Eli Manning (head), QB Jim Sorgi (shoulder/ribs), WR Ramses Barden (back), OG Chris Snee (knee), OG Kevin Boothe (PUP – chest), LB Chase Blackburn (knee), and S Michael Johnson (back).

Sorgi’s agent told ESPNNewYork.com that the results of the MRI taken on Sorgi’s right shoulder indicate the quarterback will be out of action 2-3 weeks.  The injury is apparently not related to the partially torn labrum he suffered with the Colts. The Daily News is reporting that the new injury is torn capsule and partial dislocation.

“He’s got some damage to his shoulder and we’ll see,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “I don’t know exactly how long it will be, I know that there is damage to the shoulder…He needs rest and he needs rehab, and how long it’s going to be I don’t know.

“I hope (Sorgi’s preseason is not over), but we’ll see,” said General Manager Jerry Reese. “We like him, but these injuries take time.”

When Coughlin was asked about Barden, he responded, “Might be a while.”

Coughlin also said S Michael Johnson is getting better, but will not play against the Steelers.

The good news is that Coughlin said S Kenny Phillips (knee) and LB Keith Bulluck (knee) will both play some against the Steelers.

Giants Waive TE Jake Ballard: To make room for QB Dominic Randolph, who was officially signed yesterday, the Giants waived undrafted rookie free agent TE Jake Ballard. Ballard missed most of training camp with a hamstring injury.

Article on QB Rhett Bomar: Big Blue Has Faith In Last QB Standing by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post

Article on LB Michael Boley: Giants LB Michael Boley His Own Worst Enemy – And Best Critic by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Article on the Giants and Albany: Giants May Pass on Another Summer in Albany by Mark Viera of The New York Times

Article on the Giants’ Radio Team: Giants’ Radio Team Gets Thumbs Up by Brett Cyrgalis of The New York Post

Aug 192010
 
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New York Giants 31 (1-0) – New York Jets 16 (0-1)

by The Hack for BigBlueInteractive.com

Game Summary: Football is back in the swamps of Jersey, as the Giants and the Jets took to the field in the inaugural game at the New Meadowlands Stadium on Monday night. As everyone saw and heard for hours before, during and after the game, the Jets were out to make a name for themselves by attempting to blow the Giants out of the new palace and take bragging rights along the way. The Jets looked in mid-season play calling form on both offense and defense, showing a wide variety of checks on the offense and some pretty sophisticated overload blitzes on defense.

Let’s face it, folks. The younger brother Jets were trying to step up in class against Big Blue and the Giants’ starters (as much as there were, anyway) held on long enough until all the second stringers were in the game before staging an aerial attack that shot down the Jets and proved just who owns the new digs. I say we call it Giants Stadium.

In a lot of ways, this first preseason game was very similar to the first from last year when the Giants held out a bevy of starters due to one injury or another. On Monday, the Giants were missing four starters on offense and possibly three on defense. In fact, the Giants only had one healthy TE on the squad. Additionally, the Giants played a very bland brand of football on both sides of the ball. Other than a few plays in ‘no huddle’ on offense and a few minor blitzes on obvious passing downs, the Giants primarily sent four linemen in on every play. That’s typical of Tom Coughlin in the preseason, as he never game plans this early. Not so for Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan, who despite saying he wasn’t going to game plan, obviously did. Positives from the game were pretty much what you want to see from each preseason game:

Excellent team play by the second and third team offense and defense.

Overall solid play from a makeshift offensive line besieged by a blitz happy Jets team.

Solid play from most of the rookies and from the young linebacking corps.

As Corner Forum contributor Joey in Va pointed out pre-game, the Giants who don’t hit a lot in camp were playing at a clear disadvantage against a bitter Jets team out not only to win but embarrass the Giants. However, the Giants held on long enough to throw a few haymakers of their own and defeat the other team that plays in Giants Stadium.

Offense: The Giants first string offense started the game with William Beatty starting at LT, David Diehl inside at LG, Shaun O’Hara at C, Guy Whimper at RG and Kareem McKenzie at RT. The only seasoned TE on the squad was at least the third option, Bear Pascoe. Starting in the backfield was QB Eli Manning, HB Ahmad Bradshaw and FB Madison Hedgecock. The two starting WRs were Ramses Barden, getting his first start ever, and Hakeem Nicks.

The Giants began in the basic I formation two WR set they’re known for, with Pascoe covering up the LT. On the first play from scrimmage, Pascoe actually made a good block on the MIKE linebacker, but Beatty could not hold the point of attack against an interior lineman which caused HB Bradshaw to slide into the OLB that Deihl had pulled to wall off. The Giants early running game never got anything established, leaving the team in long down and distances on every drive in the first half save one in which the Giants came out throwing.

All said, other than one busted play that went for 51 yards, the Giants first string offense really never got anything going as they had two 3 and outs, one 3 play 1 yard TD “drive”, and a 9 play drive that resulted in a FG but again, had a busted play account for 51 of the 67 yards. All in all they gained no yardage on the first three drives and 67 on the fourth. There are certainly caveats. The offensive line was a patchwork, there was no healthy second TE, and the Jets were coming. Even so, this wasn’t a good showing by the first string offense.

The Quarterbacks: Every single Giants fan in the country had their hearts in their throats when early in the second quarter a helmetless Eli Manning was rocked from behind after a fumble and subsequently cut his forehead on the facemask of a Jet. Bleeding profusely, Manning left the game and received 12 stitches to close the 3 inch gash. Thankfully all tests for a concussion or other injuries were negative and there was no residual back or neck pain over the next couple of days. As contributor j_rud from The Corner Forum declared, “Eli christened the field with his blood…the field is ours!”

As for his play, Manning finished 4-8 for 77 yards. Always the thinker, he may have out-thunk himself on the play in which he was hurt as he checked out of a Brandon Jacobs run into a probable fade route to WR Ramses Barden, but apparently no one on the team knew he had checked out of the play. Manning showed great elusiveness on one play where he shoveled out of a probable sack to HB Ahmad Bradshaw who rumbled for 51 yards. Eli also had one pass dropped and nearly had two others picked off by Cromartie. To be fair, again, Manning was playing with a patchwork offensive line and no healthy second TE against a Jets team that blitzed, straight up and disguised, about 60% of the time.

Backup QB Jim Sorgi had a good night following a shaky start, going 8-15 for 146 yards and 2 TDs. On his first series, Sorgi threw up a bomb to a well covered Mario Manningham, took a delay of game penalty, then completed a pass for a 4 yard loss on an ill executed WR bubble screen to WR Mario Manningham. Like Manning, Sorgi was also under fire much of the night. Even so, he continued to stand tall in the pocket and ended up paying the price on his second touchdown pass as he took a huge hit that left him with a bruised shoulder and ribs that will keep him out of Saturday’s game with the Steelers. Sorgi ended up playing five series, but only had one sustained drive to go with his one play touchdown drive. It is still to be determined if the career bench warmer can take over the reins and lead the Giants offense if needed, but he does have a nice touch on the ball and seems fearless in the pocket.

Second year QB Rhett Bomar entered the game with just over 12 minutes to play and led the Giants on three drives, including an impressive 67 yarder that culminated in a nice back shoulder throw to WR Victor Cruz for his third TD. Bomar will get significant playing time on Saturday against the Steelers with Eli and Sorgi out. Bomar has his chance now to move up the depth chart.

The Running Backs: HB Ahmad Bradshaw started the game, but didn’t see much action as he only carried 3 times for -1 yard. Bradshaw did catch two passes, one on a little screen for 7 yards on a 1st and 20 play and another off a shovel pass from Eli where he outran the defense for 51 yards. To be fair, it was a busted play that Bradshaw made good on, both to be in position to bail out Manning and then to avoid tacklers downfield for an extra 15 – 20 yards.

HB Brandon Jacobs never got untracked either, as he only carried 4 times for 2 yards. Three of those carries were on the Giants second “drive”, which was all of 1 yard. After losing two yards on the first carry, Jacobs got them back on second down than took it in on third down. Jacobs had one run of 13 yards around right end that was called back due to a hold on Ramses Barden.

HB Danny Ware may end up being the odd man out of the backfield rotation if he doesn’t step up soon. The only thing that may save him is the need to use him on kickoff returns. Ware had 12 yards on 3 carries and caught 1 pass for 6 yards. 2009 4th round draft pick HB Andre Brown came back from his torn Achilles heel and looked good, leading the Giants in rushing with 26 yards on 5 carries. If Brown has a good preseason, he’s got a good shot at winning the third RB spot on this team.

FB Madison Hedgecock is finally healthy and looked very good leading the backs. On several plays Hedgecock was engaged at the second level but the offensive line didn’t do their job to keep holes open long enough for the backs to get through. RB Gartrell Johnson probably doesn’t have much chance of making the team, but he also looked good during his time in the game, though he only had 3 yards on 2 carries.. He seems to have a future somewhere in the NFL someday. FB Jerome Johnson had 1 catch for 12 yards. He also had another catch called back due to a penalty. Johnson is a BEAST as a lead blocker. He devastated a couple of linebackers in the running game late.

The Wide Receivers and Tight Ends: Due to injury to WRs Steve Smith and Sinorice Moss, the Giants starters were Ramses Barden and Hakeem Nicks. Neither established anything, with Barden dropping the first pass thrown to him and Nicks not reading the play the same as Eli on the first pass he had thrown his way. WR Mario Manningham was targeted 6 times, but only caught 1 bubble screen that went for negative yardage because Barden missed his block. In fact, Barden missed several blocks or blocked the wrong guy on a few running plays, and that is a problem. Barden has to recognize his responsibilities much earlier and when he engages the defender, he needs to learn to stay on him. Derek Hagan continued to show good hands, catching three balls for 42 yards.

This night, however, was reserved for 43rd string undrafted free agent camp standout WR Victor Cruz, the UMass product from Patterson, NJ. As Marty in Albany and others have noted, he’s had a solid camp and has done the most with all the reps he’s been seeing due to the nagging injuries to Smith, Tim Brown, Moss and Manningham. Cruz was targeted 7 times and caught 6 passes for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns. His first touchdown, a 64 yard catch and run, was an unbelievable one-handed reception where he and the defender were manhandling each other. Cruz simply wanted the ball, and he got it. The second touchdown was a fly pattern in which he beat his man decisively at the line of scrimmage and caught the 34 yarder in stride for an easy score. The final score was a five yarder in which he walled off his man in the endzone, giving Bomar a great target to throw to. It’s preseason. Cruz was playing against mostly 2nd and 3rd stringers. We’ve seen the Sean Bennetts of the world before. Even so, the youngster has turned heads in camp and now has performed well in his first game. Could this be the guy that finally knocks Sinorice Moss off the roster? Time will tell.

Finally, WR Nyan Boateng also caught 1 pass for 12 yards.

TE Bear Pascoe fared much better than expected in the running game. He was able to get to the second level and remain engaged on his assignments. He was not targeted in the passing game. All other TEs except Scott Chandler were inactive for this game.

The Offensive Line: The starting offensive line showed almost no cohesiveness during the five series that they played in last night. Individually, there were some good things. LT Willam Beatty, for the most part, played well. He was beaten at the point of attack and pushed into the backfield on a couple of running plays, however, which raises the question about his drive blocking skills. On a couple of runs to the right, however, Beatty showed good athleticism to get into the second level and engage. Unfortunately, not a single one of those plays got to the second level. In the passing game, Beatty looked solid. It was not his fault that Manning got popped on the play in which he was hurt. David Deihl had his ups and downs at LG. He didn’t get out early on a couple of pulls that caused the backfield to collapse too early for the back to get to the hole. It will take time for Deihl to regain his prowess at the postion, if indeed he stays there.

Backup OL Guy Whimper played very well at RG. Again, the Giants did not use him to pull and lead the back, so it remains to be seen if he can do it. In pass protection, however, Guy was a rock. Several of the backup linemen looked good, and in particular backup OT Jacob Bender did a pretty good job at LT. G Mitch Petrus also had a solid game, but proved he’s raw and has a lot of work to do before he cracks the lineup.

The Defense: Just like last preseason, the Giants began their first game with several high profile defenders on the bench. Safeties Michael Johnson and Kenny Phillips were out of action, along with projected MIKE linebacker Keith Bullock and projected starting CB Corey Webster. Free agent acquisition S’s Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant got the start along with Jonathan Goff at MIKE and Aaron Ross at CB. There were no other unexpected starters, but notably Chris Sintim got the start on the weak side and Michael Boley started on the strong side.

The Giants played a stacked defense almost all night, with very few overloads to either side and blitzed sparingly and in obvious situations. Overall, they played it straight up and didn’t show too much in the way of scheme. Positionally, only one time did it appear that the Giants were out of sync, and that was on the Jets’ touchdown play on their second possession. Otherwise the Giants seemed ready for every play. There was no running onto and off of the field with seconds to spare before the play, no arms out palms up looking around waiting for a call, and no yelling and screaming trying to set the defense. Granted, they did play a fairly vanilla defense but they didn’t look like the Keystone Kops like they did for much of last year. The first team defense got off to a quick start as the two new safeties combined to force a turnover on Jets QB Mark Sanchez’ first pass and set the Giants up in first and goal. Following the Jets first possession, however, the starters gave up a long TD drive spanning 14 plays and nearly 9 minutes of clock. The Giants did not stop the run well on that drive, giving up successive rushes of 8, 7, 5, and 8 yards. Following a blocked punt and surviving a 14 yard TD run by Tomlinson due to a hold, the Giants held the Jets to a field goal from in close. On the third Jets drive, the Giants began subbing in their second string players and again allowed a long, 10 play drive that ate up nearly 7 minutes of clock. This time, however, the defense held once the Jets got into a first and ten situation at the Giants 12 yard line. On first down, Linval Joseph made a nice stop chasing the back down the line from behind. Two short passes later, the Jets hit a short field goal to make the final margin at the half Jets 13 Giants 10.

Front 7: It’s all on the defensive line this season. The Giants have added a lot of depth with draft picks Jason Pierre-Paul and Linval Joseph, and UDFA Nate Collins. Collins was the college roommate of Giant LB Chris Sintim and was signed by the Giants in late April. All three of the rookies played well in spots on Monday night. Collins was in on three tackles and had one QB hit. He was able to get a very good push in the middle, and it will be interesting to see whether he gets any playing time with the first or second units this weekend. Joseph was credited with 4 tackles, and Barry Cofield was up and down, at times holding the line well and at others being blown out of the play. He did not show up on the score sheet. Rocky Bernard may very well be playing his way off of this team, especially if some of the kids continue to flash. Though he was in on three tackles, Bernard does not look like he’s at full speed. The other DT of note, Chris Canty, played very well against the run. Canty is a space eater, and frees up the LBs to get to plays. He did have a costly hands to the face penalty that cost the Giants a stop on third down during the drive that led to the Jets only touchdown, but overall, and especially against the run, Canty looked raring to go. That’s a very, very good sign. DT Jay Alford, coming off IR from last season, did get into the game late but did nothing of note. At the least, it’s good to see Alford in a game again.

The starting DE’s, other than Jason Pierre-Paul, played sparingly and did little of note. Frankly, the Giants sent four linemen in on almost every play and did very little in the way of stunts and twists. Generally, the ends bull rushed while the DT’s either held the line or pushed the pocket very little. JASON (I’m so proud I pronounced that correctly!) Tuck played sparingly and had 1 tackle. Mathias Kiwanuka did little in this game, but did fight off a block and get back to the middle to stop RB Shonn Greene after a five yard gain. Osi Umenyiora also played sparingly.

Rookie first round draft pick Jason Pierre-Paul had an eventful first game. At times the ultra quick DE looked the part, as evidenced by his sack of Sanchez during the Jets two minute drill at the end of the first half. Other times, he was easily manhandled and easily neutralized. There is no denying the skill set this kid has, but it will be some time before he’s ready to take over full time on either end. Luckily, the Giants are stacked at end and have the luxury of time while grooming Pierre-Paul.

None of the other DE’s did much to distinguish themselves. Frankly, I do not like the way Dave Tollefson plays football. He occupies space on the field and little else. Alex Hall played a lot of the second half as did Tommie Hill. Both have practice squad potential.

The reason that the defensive line play will be so critical to the Giants chances this year is right here – the 2010 New York Giants linebacking corps. Last year, the fretting in The Corner Forum (and rightfully so) was over whether the Giants young WRs could step up. The fears of many turned out to be unfounded. That, however, doesn’t stop the fretting in The Corner as this years’ attention is squarely focused on the linebacking corps. Defensive captain and team leader Antonio Pierce retired and Danny Clark (thankfully) wasn’t retained. That left only Michael Boley (who missed 8 games in 2009) returning as a starter. The Giants, for the most part, will address their linebacking issues from within. 2nd year man Chris Sintim is expected to push for playing time, yet despite starting the game he did not factor in a single tackle. Sintim seems to be from the Danny Clark mode, where he squares up with whomever is blocking him and can’t shake him. That has got to change. It’s not his job to engage the blockers, that job goes to the DTs so Sintim can get to the ball carrier.

With projected starter Keith Bullock out, Jonathan Goff got the first crack as the starting MIKE and initially played well, stuffing a couple of running plays and breaking up a pass. Later, Goff got lost in the wash on a couple runs up the middle. Fourth round pick Phillip Dillard, who has had a very good training camp (including a fight with G Chris Snee) and continued his solid preseason with good work on Monday night. Dillard was in on 4 tackles. Brian Kehl did a very good job during his time in the game, leading the Giants with 7 tackles.

Gerris Wilkinson came into the game late and played like a man possessed. He was, visibly, the fastest linebacker on the field for the Giants but that could be because he was playing with and against inferior athletic players. Wilkinson can play linebacker. The knock on him is whether he can stay healthy or not. If he is indeed healthy, Gerris could provide huge dividends to the Giants for keeping him around this long.

In summary, the front 7 played nominally good football. The starters were for the most part underwhelming, but the backups played very well, beginning against the Jets first string offense.

Defensive Backs: As noted, the Giants were without starting CB Corey Webster and both starting safeties. Not to worry. This year, with Phillips and Johnson out, Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant are manning the middle instead of CC Brown and Aaron Rouse. HUGE difference. HUGE HUGE difference, and it was noted on the very first pass the Jets threw on Monday night. The fifth safety, Sha’reff Rashad also played a lot of downs and had a late interception to ice the game. It’s safe to say, Giants fans, that our safety situation is a tad better going into 2010 than it was in 2009.

Terrell Thomas started on one corner with Aaron Ross on the other. Both played well while they were in the game. The Giants have three solid CBs and then there’s a huge drop off. 2nd year man Bruce Johnson had a very rough night. Johnson played off man all night, giving gigantic cushions that were constantly exploited. The one time he tried to man up at the line of scrimmage, he was easily pushed to the ground by Jets receiver Santonio Holmes but was lucky that Holmes stepped out of bounds prior to catching the pass. It appeared that Johnson played tentatively and without much aggressiveness. That has to change if he wants to be in the mix.

Third year man Courtney Brown is a hitter. Brown played a solid game at corner and did a good job of stopping the play after the catch with a couple big hits. Brown was in on five tackles.

CB D.J. Johnson started off slowly, as he was also abused by Santonio Holmes, but he did turn it around later with a late interception and a pass defensed. Of the three backups, it appeared that Brown played the best, but again it’s early.

Special Teams: P Matt Dodge had better find consistency very, very soon or he will not be a member of the Giants for too much longer. Dodge did not have a single decent kick all night. As a holder, Dodge did a very good job on all extra points and Tynes’ only field goal attempt. K Lawrence Tynes did a very good job getting all of his kickoffs inside the 5 yard line with two touchbacks. He was 1-1 in FG tries, connecting on a 32 yarder.

The kickoff team performed poorly, allowing four long returns. The Jets started inside the 25 just twice following six kickoffs. That is unsatisfactory, and with special teams ace Chase Blackburn out for a couple games someone is going to have to step up.

For the second preseason opener in a row, the punt team allowed a blocked punt. This year, the culprit was RB Andre Brown, who whiffed completely on the defensive end who then had a clear shot to Dodge. Dodge was not the culprit on this play.

The kickoff return game is a work in progress with Domenik Hixon gone for the year with a torn ACL. It was nice to see, however, that Danny Ware survived the very first kickoff of the season this year. Andre Brown also had three chances, but with shoddy, almost seemingly disinterested blocking, didn’t make much of his opportunities.

In the punt return game, Aaron Ross and Victor Cruz handled the ball and Ross actually looked pretty good doing it. Cruz showed no fear in his only chance by catching the ball and turning upfield into a virtual wall.

Coaching: I’m not sure how he did it, but Coach Coughlin and crew were able to hold the Jets close, going into the half down just three points. With all the injuries and makeshift lineup changes, that was the key to getting the win, keeping it close early.

Offensive Player of the Game: No brainer, the nod goes to Victor Cruz Missile. This may be the one and only time the UDFA from UMASS and New Jersey native will ever get the chance. Enjoy it, Victor, you earned it!

Defensive Player of the Game: Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant showed on the second defensive play from scrimmage why they were brought in as they hooked up to create a turnover that led to the Giants’ first score. They split the award this week.

(Box Score – New York Giants at New York Jets, August 16, 2010)
Aug 192010
 
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Approach to the Game – Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants, August 21, 2010: The Giants-Jets preseason opener was far more entertaining than most preseason games, especially the first game.  But now that the media show is over, the Giants’ focus is now completely on getting ready for the September 12 opener against the Carolina Panthers.

The second preseason game is the second most important preseason game.  The starters will play more than any other game other than the third game.  The problem for the Giants is that their #1 and #2 quarterbacks will be out.  So the keys to the Cadillac have been handed over to third-stringer Rhett Bomar, who faces a daunting task against one of the top defenses in the NFL.

Giants on Offense: The Giants need to get their running game untracked and this is not a good situation (#3 quarterback starting) or opponent (tough Steelers’ defense) to do it against.  Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs could get nothing going against the Jets.  Most of the blame had to do with very poor run blocking by the offensive line and tight ends.

It probably won’t get any prettier this Saturday as the Steelers are unlikely to be too fearful of Bomar.  Plus, the offensive line will likely be a makeshift group again with Chris Snee (knee) and perhaps Rich Seubert (hand) out.  The good news is that Will Beatty is getting some good work as is Guy Whimper.  It also helps that the tight ends are starting to get healthy again.

The injuries to Manning and Sorgi have provided Rhett Bomar with a tremendous opportunity.  He will now see far more action – both in practice and in games – and experience is what any young quarterback needs.  There will be mistakes, but if Rhett Bomar is ever going to be the #2 quarterback on this team – either this season or next – he needs the opportunity to impress.  Well now he has it.

Blitzing by the Jets caused problems last Monday night.   The Giants will see that again against the aggressive, blitzing 3-4 defense of the Steelers.  I’d like to see the line, tight ends, and backs make fewer mental mistakes that lead to free shots on the quarterback.

In the receiving department, it will be good to see Steve Smith back on the field.  Mario Manningham (groin) hasn’t been himself however all camp and preseason.  With Ramses Barden (back) also ailing, Victor Cruz has an opportunity to move up the depth chart.  Tom Coughlin clearly loves this kid.  Can he make plays for the second game in a row?  Personally, barring injury, I think the wide receiver spots are already locked up – Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Derek Hagan, Ramses Barden, and Victor Cruz.  It’s the pecking order that remains to be determined and who will be inactive on game day.

I also think this is a big game for Travis Beckum, who has a very disappointing summer due to all the time he has missed with a hamstring injury.  He has to start making plays or we may not see much of him again in 2010.  Kevin Boss has missed a lot of time, and he is coming off late offseason ankle surgery.  He needs the work.

Giants on Defense: I was pretty impressed with the run defense against the Jets.  In particular, I thought the defensive tackles did well.  Chris Canty, Joseph Linval, and Nate Collins all stood out to me.  But I’d like to see more in the pass rush department, especially from Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and Mathias Kiwanuka.  They’re supposed to be “studs” – I’d like to see them start playing like it.

I think there were quite a few positives (and some negatives) from most of the linebackers.  Jonathan Goff and Phillip Dillard flashed to me at times.  But I think we all expect Keith Bulluck to man the middle once the season starts.  I saw some good things out of Gerris Wilkinson and Bryan Kehl too.  And I think Michael Boley is going to have a big year.  Clint Sintim was pretty quiet against the Jets, but sometimes that is the nature of the strongside linebacker position.  Still, I’d like to see a little more noise from him.

Having all of the corners back is comforting.  Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas, Aaron Ross, and Bruce Johnson are obviously the top four guys.  The real battle is who will be the fifth guy.  D.J. Johnson and Courtney Brown seemed to get most of the backup reps against the Jets.

The Giants will remain a little thin at safety until Kenny Phillips plays.  It really sucks that Chad Jones’ career is likely over…the Giants could really use him right now.  Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant are a very good combo, but Michael Johnson (back) has been missing a lot of time and its questionable whether or not Sha’reff Rashad, John Busing, and Michael Greco are NFL-caliber players.

Giants on Special Teams: I have a feeling this is going to be the Giants’ Achilles heel in 2010.  And it’s not just the punting game.

First of all, the return game went from dynamic to pretty unimpressive with the loss of Domenik Hixon.  Hixon has game-changing return skills and those will be sorely missed.  While other teams regularly get to the Giants’ 30-yard on kickoff returns, the Giants struggle to get past the 20-yard line.  And I really don’t want Aaron Ross to return punts.  Hopefully Victor Cruz can make some noise there.

Punting.   I have never seen a worse performance by a punter in a game where wind was not a factor than Matt Dodge’s effort against the Jets.  That was putrid.  Personally, I doubt he turns it around in time.  I think the Giants have to be very worried about this.  Football is all about field position – it really is.  And a bad punter could cost the Giants two games.   That’s the difference between being 8-8 and 10-6.  No playoffs and playoffs.

Aug 192010
 
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August 18, 2010 New York Giants Training Camp Reports: To see the final BBI training camp report, please visit the Training Camp section of the website.

Additional Training Camp Reports: The following media sources have provided training camp reports:

Giants Add Quarterback: With quarterbacks Eli Manning (head) and Jim Sorgi (shoulder/ribs) ailing, according to various press reports, the Giants have agreed to terms with QB Dom Randolph. Randolph was signed as a rookie free agent after the 2010 NFL Draft by the Giants, but he was cut a week later after the rookie mini-camp.

Injury Report – Manning Will Not Play Against Steelers; MRI for Sorgi: Not practicing yesterday were QB Eli Manning (head), QB Jim Sorgi (shoulder/ribs), WR Ramses Barden (back), FB Jerome Johnson (unknown), TE Jake Ballard (hamstring), OG Chris Snee (knee), OG Kevin Boothe (PUP – chest), LB Chase Blackburn (knee), and S Michael Johnson (back).

Returning to practice were WR Steve Smith (groin/hip), WR Mario Manningham (groin), WR Sinorice Moss (groin), WR Tim Brown (groin/hamstring), TE Kevin Boss (ankle/hamstring), H-Back Travis Beckum (hamstring), TE Scott Chandler (hip flexor), CB Corey Webster (glute), and CB Terrell Thomas (leg).

Coughlin has already ruled Manning out of the game against the Steelers on Saturday. Sorgi may not play either. “Eli will not play this week but I wouldn’t go any further than that,” said Head Coach Tom Coughlin. “And Jim, we’re going to have to wait and see.”

Sorgi will undergo an MRI on his shoulder this morning. According to The Daily News, before they signed him, the Giants told Sorgi he should have surgery on the partially torn labrum in his right (throwing) shoulder, but Sorgi convinced the team he could play though it.

The concern with Manning is that his helmet may re-open his stitches. Manning downplayed that concern yesterday. “It doesn’t bother me,” Manning said. “It’s kind of high enough where if you wear a helmet, the helmet kind of hits you lower in the forehead so it wouldn’t be right on the stitches, kind of where sometimes when you take your helmet off you’ve got a red spot in the middle forehead area, its above that so I don’t think it will be too painful to wear a helmet, but we’re just being safe right now.”

“I physically feel fine, I threw some balls today, running around, I know what’s going on and I’m all there so it’s just a matter of getting the helmet on,” said Manning.

“There is a question about what he can do with a hat on rather than a helmet,” Coughlin said. “I’m not going to rush that and if the doctor says it’s okay for him to throw then maybe he’ll do some throwing, but he’s definitely not going to put the helmet on.”

Blackburn is relieved that his knee injury was not more serious. “I definitely felt a pop, but as soon as they were on the field they examined it and they said it’s probably not an ACL,” Blackburn said. “That’s all you want to hear when you’re out there. You know there’s something wrong, but you don’t want to hear it’s an ACL. In a couple weeks, I’ll be good to go. It feels pretty good. I mean a little swollen, still a little loose, but that’s part of it. They said in 10 days it should start tightening up here and start to come back a little bit. So we’ll go do more rehab at that point.”

“(Snee) actually feels better today than he has for awhile,” said Coughlin. “We’re not going to rush him back but it’s good to see him with a smile on his face so he’s on his way.”

Article on WR Victor Cruz: Paterson’s Victor Cruz Enjoying Aftermath of Three-Touchdown Night for Giants by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger

Notes: There is one practice today, in the afternoon. For details, check out the camp schedule in the Training Camp section of the website.

Aug 182010
 
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August 18, 2010 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Afternoon Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany

Manning and Sorgi Watch as Bomar Solos

This is my final report of 2010. Training camp was a week shorter than last year. The shorter length of training camp, combined with injuries to so many players means that significant team changes will happen between now and the start of the season, so let’s not jump to any hasty conclusions. Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

This is my tenth year posting camp reports. As with last year, it is uncertain if the Giants will return to Albany. In case they don’t, I want to thank everyone who has read and enjoyed my camp reports (as well as those who have not, but have refrained from calling me names). Providing BBIers with both enjoyment and information that may not be available elsewhere has always been my goal and it has always been a source of great satisfaction for me.

Today’s Practice:

The Giants were in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts on this overcast 80 degree day. QB Rhett Bomar was the only quarterback dressed. QB Eli Manning was wearing a baseball cap. As far as I could tell, there were no bandages or gauze showing. He threw one or two passes, and warmed up with the team, but that was all. QB Jim Sorgi took quite a beating in the Jets game so I am not surprised that he got the day off.

I guess, if you are a third string QB, you dream of days like today. QB Rhett Bomar did all the passing in the offensive drills, the 7 on 7s, and the 11 on 11s. Frankly, I thought that he looked about the same as he usually looks in practice. He made some good throws and some poor ones which got tipped and intercepted.

It was good to see TEs Kevin Boss and Travis Beckum dressed, as were WRs Steve Smith, Tim Brown, and Sinorice Moss.

Boss is probably not 100 percent healthy yet, nor WR Mario Manningham, who looks a bit gimpy. Nevertheless, Mario and Bomar hooked up on a wonderful timing pass with Mario making a great move to get wide open for a TD. Mario also made one of his patented catches where the ball bounced off his (or someone else’s) hands in traffic, then bounced off a defender, and finally bounced back to Mario for a reception.

I was also glad to see WR Steve Smith make a nice athletic leaping catch. I looked for OG Chris Snee, but I don’t believe that he was on the field today.

There were kickoff returns and WR Victor Cruz participated in them as well as in the punt returns.

Speaking of punts, P Matt Dodge had a practice that he’d like to forget. Usually he has a mix of great and not so great punts. Today, all of his punts looked like the low, short punts that he made in the Jets game. He needs to find his swing, and fast.

In the 11 on 11s LB Jonathan Goff got an interception. There were completions to HB Gartrell Johnson, FB Madison Hedgecock, and TE Travis Beckum. Beckum looks as smooth as ever running and catching the ball. DE Jason Pierre-Paul continued his good play by swatting away an attempted pass.

In the 7 on 7s, CB Corey Webster made a fine pass defense on a ball intended for WR Hakeem Nicks, and CB Terrell Thomas swatted away a ball as well. WR Victor Cruz had a few catches, the best of which was a side line catch defended by CB Bruce Johnson. CB Seth Williams made an excellent defense of a pass intended for WR Derek Hagan.

Back in the 11 on 11s, WR Duke Calhoun made a fine deep diving catch, and LB Jonathan Goff got his second interception of the afternoon when Bomar’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage, possibly by DE Justin Tuck. That concludes today’s camp report.

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

The 2010 Draft Choices:

First Round – DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida: JPP is big, quick, fast, and athletic. In terms of potential, the proverbial “sky is the limit.” We are told that he is working hard to learn the defensive scheme, but (and this applies to all linemen) training camp is not the best place to evaluate Jason. It is better to study his play in the preseason games.

Conventional wisdom says that it might take awhile, perhaps more than a season, before we know if Jason is quality NFL material because his playing time will be limited and that he will be playing behind Kiwi, Osi, and Tuck. If Jason is quick to develop, there will be less pressure on the Giants to retain the services of all three of those veteran DEs.

Modern history differs from conventional wisdom. Last year our defensive line was “stacked.” All the experts said so, and they were wrong. On Monday night Jason had a sack against the Jets’ starters. It was the only sack of the game. Our vaunted veterans put very little pressure on the Jets QB and got pushed around by their offensive line. Jason’s good health, speed and strength may see him playing a major role much more quickly than anyone has imagined. If Jason continues to make one sack a game, he’ll do just fine.

Before a player can get to the highest level, he needs experience. When I say experience, I mean getting schooled by savvy opponents rather than learning from coaches or film study. As mentioned above, the veteran DEs on the Giants’ roster may or may not limit how fast Jason gets that experience. Jason is not nearly as good as he is going to be, or as good as he needs to be.

Second Round – DT Linval Joseph, East Carolina:
He’s a VLT- a very large tackle. In camp he has shown quickness and speed belying his 320 pounds. Drafting a DT in the second round was no doubt inspired by last season’s nearly total meltdown of our defensive line due to injuries. Pretty much everything I said about JPP’s development in terms of time and experience also applies to Joseph. Like his draft-mate JPP, Linval played well against the Jets with four tackles and some good penetration. At this point, there is reason to be optimistic about Joseph’s future in the NFL.

Third Round – S Chad Jones, LSU: Chad was drafted to shore up an ineffective safeties squad that was depleted by S Kenny Phillips’ knee injury. A serious car accident put Chad in the hospital. Chad will need surgeries and long-term rehab. At this point, his football career is very much in doubt. We all wish Chad a normal and healthy life, even if football is no longer a part of it.

Fourth Round – LB Phillip Dillard, Nebraska: The departure of Antonio Pierce left a large void at the Mike LB position with no heir apparent to fill it. There was (and still is) a dire need for a first rate middle linebacker. Drafting one in the first round might have been a good idea, but there would be no guarantee that a rookie, even a first round pick, could start from day one. This became a moot point when no worthy MLB prospect was available when it was the Giants’ turn to draft in the first round. Instead of “reaching” for a LB, the Giants picked the best player available (JPP). At that point it became clear that the Giants would either make due with the veteran LBs already on the team, or try to acquire another veteran LB.

Eventually Dillard was drafted and we were told that he would compete for the starting Mike position. While fourth round rookies seldom become immediate starters, the veterans on the Giants had hardly set the world on fire. In camp, Dillard has gotten praise for his dedication to training and his desire to be a team leader. He is quickly picking up the defensive scheme and he has the on-field smarts to make the calls needed to set up the defense.

The problem for Dillard is that a linebacker’s career really depends on how fast he can get to the ball carrier and tackle him. Since there is no live tackling in training camp, it is impossible to know if Dillard is our savior, or just another average player that his fourth round draft status tends to suggest. He will get a chance to shine in the preseason games, but until then, he remains a reserve. He is behind newly acquired veteran Keith Bulluck and current starter Jonathan Goff.

Fifth Round – OG Mitch Petrus, Arkansas: The Giants offensive line is not getting any younger and they have had their share of injuries. A backup center was probably the position of greatest need on the offensive line, but it turned out that Guard was the position with the best player available. At this point you may want to refer to the beginning of my August 1, Camp Report wherein I “thanked” Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin for drafting so many linemen who would remain total mysteries in training camp.

Mitch has all the measurable to be an NFL lineman, but there are very few linemen like David Diehl, who come in and play at a high level from day one. We will have to wait until the real games begin before we know what we have in Mitch Petrus. Last year, there might have been some doubt about Mitch making the squad. The recent injury to veteran OG Kevin Boothe, seems to insure that Mitch will make the Giants roster. With our two starting guards too nicked up to play against the Jets, Mitch’s presence came in handy.

Sixth Round – LB Adrian Tracy, William & Mary: Adrian started 47 games at LDE in college. The Giants drafted him to be a Sam linebacker. There is a considerable difference between those positions and that complicates his making the team. According to DE Mathias Kiwanuka, Adrian is very rapidly picking up the defensive scheme and if he makes the roster he is likely to back up LB Clint Sintim.

In camp, Adrian has shown speed, agility, and coordination. He has also made a play or two at linebacker. As with LB Phillip Dillard, Tracy’s status on the Giants will be determined by his ability to cover and tackle in the preseason games. The Giants are very thin in talent at the linebacker position. They may not have the luxury of letting Tracy watch and learn from the bench until he is able to pull his own weight. He may end up on the practice squad. However, if he does make the roster, we can all yell, “Yo! Adrian!”

Seventh Round – P Matt Dodge, East Carolina: Dodge was drafted because at 43 years of age, veteran punter Jeff Feagles could no longer meet the physical demands of playing football. The soon to be “legendary” Feagles was classy enough to come to Albany and shepherd Dodge into the world of NFL punting, especially directional punting.

Dodge has an impressively strong leg, and impressively muscular arms as well. He looks like a football player. When camp started it was very clear that Dodge was struggling to handle the snaps cleanly. He was not consistent in where he held the ball when he kicked it and he lacked rhythm. The good news is that when he kicks the ball properly, they are high and deep spirals that turn over at the top of their arc and bore into the wind.

Although he is not yet consistent enough, it appears that under Jeff Feagles’ tutelage, Dodge is becoming more consistent with every practice. Dodge is handling LS Zak DeOssie’s snaps much more cleanly and kicking with more rhythm in practice. Dodge has also replaced Jeff Feagles as the holder for field goals. Dodge has done an excellent job as holder and has received praise from K Lawrence Tynes.

Dodge had a dismal game against the Jets averaging just 37 yards. One of his punts was blocked (not his fault) and the others were low and short. Nevertheless, the punts were not disastrous for the Giants because Dodge’s low punts generally result in a long forward roll and that is what happened against the Jets. If Dodge does not have a marked improvement in the next game, the Giants will probably be watching the waiver wire for his replacement. As with Adrian Tracy, the Giants don’t have the luxury of waiting for Dodge to develop. They need him to produce immediately.

Last Year’s Rookies:

WR Hakeem Nicks: You know what they say, “big hands…big…plays.” If ever a first rounder lived up to the hype and hopes for him, it was Hakeem Nicks. He is now a starter and the receiver most likely to turn a short pass into a TD. Nobody mistakenly calls him “Hicks” anymore because everyone knows who he is and what he can do with those big hands. As a part-time starter last year, he caught 47 balls for almost 800 yards, including 6 TDs.

How has he looked in camp? Better than ever. He has enough strength to out-fight a defender for the ball, or to break a tackle for extra yardage. He is usually in a good position to make a catch, but he has made catches when he was out of position and he has made them look easy. If WR Steve Smith is our most prolific receiver, Nick is our most dangerous one. The only thing that will hold him back are injury issues. He has been limited to one practice a day. Hopefully, his rehab will be complete prior to the start of the season.

LB Clint Sintim: A big and athletic player, he was a reserve last year and somewhat of a disappointment. It was hoped that he would make more plays last year even in his limited time on the field. Clint played in a 3-4 defense in college and needs to adjust to the Giants 4-3. Frankly, I am always astonished when a player comes out of college and fits right into the NFL style of play. At least so far, the Giants have shown confidence in Clint. The starting SAM linebacker position is Clint’s to lose. He is backed up only by rookie 6th rounder Adrian Tracy.

Sintim recorded no tackles in the Jets game and Adrian Tracy had only one assist. On the bright side, only 3 of the Jets’ 29 completions were to their TEs, so maybe our SAM coverage was good.

LT William Beatty: Another second round pick, Beatty has played well enough as a rookie, for the Giants to consider starting him at LT, the premier job on the offensive line. Clearly, he is a better tackle than veterans Guy Whimper and Adam Koets. They are currently filling in at guard and center, respectively. Beatty will need some outstanding performances in the preseason or regular season before the Giants will allow him to protect QB Eli Manning’s blind side. That would result in Dave Diehl shifting to LG and the current LG, Rich Seubert, becoming a reserve.

Against the Jets, Beatty allowed no sacks, but he did not plow defenders out of the way either. I imagine that this experiment will be continued in the next game.

WR Ramses Barden: I raved about Barden last year and I continue to rave about the way he has performed in camp this year. At first, I though it was foolish to expect him to replace Plaxico Burress. I’ve changed my mind about that. Barden is 6’6″ and 227. He is not designed for making gymnastic catches, but he has made them in training camp. When he is on the field with WR Hakeem Nicks and WR Steve Smith, they will draw the most attention from the defense leaving Barden in single coverage and almost certainly with a size mismatch.

He has huge hands, a very powerful build, and long muscular arms. He has a smooth running style that helps his balance and body control. It allows him to see the ball well and get into a good position to catch it. After the catch, he can pivot much more quickly than you would expect from a man his size.

Putting a 5-10 defender on him is almost like cruelty to animals. He can out-leap defenders and he can come back towards the QB and make a “shield” catch by putting his body between the ball and defender. Barden has the size to make it nearly impossible for him to be covered by a single small DB. He has the strength to make yards after a catch by running through tackles or dragging DBs along with him. It may not happen immediately, but it will happen.

However, do not expect the Giants to give Ramses a starting spot just on my say-so. Unless he has some superb preseason games, he will start the season as the fourth receiver behind WR Mario Manningham who had 57 receptions for more than 800 yards last season.

TE Travis Beckum: Travis has been injured and has played very little in camp this year. He is a talented receiver, but he never got incorporated into the Giants offense. Last year the Giants had a boatload of draft picks and I think that Travis was drafted as insurance against Nicks, Barden, Smith, and Manningham not panning out as WRs. Fortunately for the Giants, but unfortunately for Travis, those four WRs played so well that he was relegated to blocking TE – a role for which he is unsuited.

Travis is perhaps 240 pounds. He is not a good enough blocker to fill the traditional second TE role. As a result, he got very little playing time last season. He has been injured in camp and it is uncertain if his blocking has improved. While he is very likely to remain with the Giants this year, it is not yet clear how the Giants intend to take advantage of Beckum’s receiving talents without being harmed by his shortcomings as a blocker.

HB Andre Brown: For all intents and purposes, Andre is still a rookie. Last year at this time he was running down field for a pass and tore his Achilles’ tendon. Up until that point, he was having a very good camp, showing elusiveness and power to go along with his receiving skills. He is probably the best receiver of the Giants’ running backs.

Most people doubted that Andre, or anyone else, could return to football from an Achilles’ tendon injury, but here he is looking pretty much the same as last year. He runs, he cuts, he catches the ball, he drives into defenders. In Andre’s case, being back where he started is a good thing.

Andre needs to prove that his repaired Achilles’ tendon can withstand actual game conditions. Before he can be considered a lock to make the Giants roster, he also needs to show that he can gain yardage against a real opponent, not just look good in practice. Against the Jets, he gained some yardage against their scrubs and returned three kicks for reasonable yardage. He also missed a tackle which resulted in Matt Dodge’s punt being blocked.

Last September, the Giants acquired HB Gartrell Johnson to fill Andre’s slot. Gartrell is about the same size as Andre. He is a more powerful inside runner, who has excellent balance. He is not as elusive, or nearly as good a receiver as Brown. At this point Johnson is behind Brown and is the fifth running back.

For all of his short-comings, Gartrell is a known quantity. He has shown that can stay in the backfield and pass protect. The Giants could go with either four or five RBs, but Gartrell will certainly remain a Giant until it is certain that Brown is fully healed and that he can pass protect.

QB Rhett Bomar: Last season Rhett was far behind back-up QB David Carr and was not ready to play at an NFL level. The Giants risked putting him on the practice squad and kept only QBs Carr and Manning on the roster. The Giants’ gamble paid off and Rhett is back for another try at making the team. In camp, Rhett has a strong arm and a quick release. He is usually accurate. He is playing better than he did last year, but he still hesitates when looking for receivers and still makes some poor decisions in camp.

The preseason games will provide Rhett with ample opportunities to show what he can do. He will get much more playing time than last year, because this year the Giants have three QBs in camp instead of the four that they had last year. Can Rhett show the Giants that he is too valuable to risk losing off the practice squad? Rhett may have done just that on Monday night against the Jets.

He completed six of seven passes, threw for a TD, and scrambled 23 yards for an important first down when he saw that the defensive coverage would allow it. What impressed me most was that when the Jets defense went into an overload formation that the Giants were not prepared for, Rhett diagnosed the problem in time to call a time out. He then came back with the answer. I’m not sending Rhett to Canton just yet, but I think he has earned a longer look from the Giants.

The Rest of the Team:

QB Eli Manning: Manning’s arm looks just fine in camp. How far he can take the Giants depends on whether the Giants can run the ball on offense. The Giants receivers are developing nicely, but health issues for the offensive line and tight ends, could derail the Giants.

QB Jim Sorgi: He has performed well in camp. His arm may not be as strong as Manning’s or Bomar’s, but he is smart and gutsy and his throws are accurate enough.

HB Brandon Jacobs: He has shown speed and cutting ability in camp. He has also caught the ball well. If Brandon does not do well, it will not be because he lacks speed, strength, or desire, but because he uses poor technique or poor judgment.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw: He has looked healthy in camp and his 50 yard catch and run against the Jets shows why he is now the starting RB.

HB D.J. Ware: He can do it all. He has size, speed, strength, and receiving skills. He returns kicks. In my opinion, there is a significant gap between him and Andre Brown and Gartrell Johnson.

WR Derek Hagan: He has played well in camp. He is a very consistent receiver in terms of getting open and not dropping catchable passes.

WRs Mario Manningham and WR Steve Smith: Hopefully they will be healthier when the season starts. There was no reason for either of them to kill himself in training camp.

WR Victor Cruz: He has good hands, a decent amount of speed, and can make yards after the catch. He made some fine catches in camp, but he had the good fortune to shine in the Jets game. He had 6 catches for 145 yards, Jets, including 3 TDs. I still want to see more from him before I jump on his bandwagon. In camp, there were a fair number of balls thrown his way that he failed to catch. Maybe they were just bad throws by the QBs; maybe not.

In the long run, it is not circus catches that win football games, it is pitch and catch. The top receivers get open consistently. When they do, accurate and well-timed throws from the QB result in a multitude of routine, yet unstoppable catches and an annual invitation to the Pro Bowl. When Cruz makes a few catches in the first half of a preseason game, then I’ll become a believer. Cruz also caught a punt against the Jets. That can only help his cause. If Victor has the talent for returning punts, it could signal the end of Sinorice Moss’ career as a Giant.

Sinorice Moss: Sinorice is a tough, speedy, hardworking, and thoroughly decent guy, who is on the wrong team. He has spent a lot of time on the bench because of injuries and this year was no exception as he sat out the Jets game.

Every year I write that Sinorice should be replaced. My suggested replacement is usually someone who is six or eight inches taller. This year it is Victor Cruz who is three inches taller at 5-11 rather than the 6-1 the Giants list him at. My reason is always the same: Eli Manning has trouble connecting with short receivers like Sinorice. Even if that is Eli’s fault, Eli is not going anywhere. Last season, QB David Carr had no trouble finding Sinorice in traffic. In one preseason game last year, they hooked up for two TD receptions. Carr is now with the 49ers. Perhaps Sinorice should go West to find his fortune.

WR Tim Brown: He has flashed in camp with his great moves and speed as a punt returner, but his injury may be his undoing. Tiny Tim at 5-7 (or less) 165, also suffers from the short receiver syndrome that afflicts Sinorice Moss.

WR Duke Calhoun & WR Nyan Boateng: They are both swift and rangy. They have shown good receiving talent in camp, but they are playing behind a very good group of receivers. If they have a good game or two in the preseason, they might catch on with another team, but they have little chance of making our roster.

TEs Bear Pascoe, Scott Chandler, Jake Ballard: In camp, Pascoe and Chandler both looked good as receivers. They got open and caught the catches that they were supposed to make. They are close enough in their receiving skills to warrant keeping the better blocker to join TEs Kevin Boss and Travis Beckum on the roster. Ballard has shown very little.

FB Jerome Johnson: If he can block, he is going to make some NFL team very happy. Although he is probably the best receiving Giants FB since Charles Way, the Giants will keep only one FB and that will be Madison Hedgecock.

CBs Terrell Thomas, Corey Webster, andAaron Ross. The only thing that will stop these guys is health. They have all looked great in camp and CB Bruce Johnson is not very far behind them.

CBs D.J. Johnson, Courtney Brown, and Seth Williams: D.J. Johnson has had a brutal camp allowing reception after reception. In the Jets game, Santonio Holmes took him to school. D.J. also intercepted an inaccurate pass, but it did appear that the receiver (who was not Holmes) had still beaten him on the route.

Between Seth and Courtney, I would give the edge to Seth who had more good plays in camp. However, against the Jets, it looks like Courtney got into the game ahead of Seth. Courtney is taller and 20 pounds heavier than Seth. This might make him more effective in run support and on special teams.

Safeties Sha’reff Rashad, Michael Greco, and John Busing: Rashad has made more plays than Greco in camp and he had an interception against the Jets at the end of the game. Busing is a newcomer and I have not seen much of him. As with the young CBs above, Greco and Busing are about twenty pounds heavier than Rashad. That may be significant.

As of now, the first and second team safeties are S Antrel Rolle, S Deon Grant, S Kenny Phillips, and S Michael Johnson. With Phillips still recovering from micro-fracture surgery, and Michael Johnson dinged up, the Giants may want to keep five safeties and four cornerbacks instead of the other way around. John Busing has the reputation of being a very good special teams player. That may give him an advantage in making the roster.

Linebackers: It may take a few games before LB Michael Boley gets accustomed to DC Perry Fewell’s defense and the same goes for LB Keith Bulluck. Bulluck wins the “most ripped Giant” contest. I don’t think there is an ounce of fat on him. Keith has an “8 pack” where DT Rocky Bernard has a keg. In camp, Bulluck has shown that he is fast and quick. We know that they both can play, but when will Keith Bulluck get healthy enough to play and will Michael Boley stay healthy for an entire season?

The Giants are very thin at LB and there is not much talent to back these guys up if they can’t play. I am concerned that our linebacking squad will consist of capable starters who are not healthy and reserves who are mediocre.

My prediction for the 2010 Giants: They will go as far as their health will take them.