by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany
The Sun Shines in Albany (Finally!) and So Does Eli Manning
As a result of the labor strife, it has been two years since I have seen Eli in practice. What a difference two years have made! His mechanics have substantially improved. His passes are more accurate, have tighter spirals and have more zip. More importantly, his passes, are more uniform and thus more catchable. He is substantially better at putting the ball only where the intended receiver can catch it. He takes the snap, looks for a receiver and if he does not throw the ball immediately, he looks to the other side of the field and usually finds his receiver within the time allowed by reasonable pass blocking.
In his early career a lot of his passes were not much better than the other guys in camp. That is no longer true. The difference in quality between Eli and QB David Carr is far more substantial today than it was two years ago. Perhaps the biggest difference is that Eli know when NOT to throw the ball. Yeah, the guy is an elite QB.
The day was sunny, hot and humid. The Giants were still in shorts with no pads. Hopefully that will change on Monday. Reporters like me like to gush over the plays made in training camp. However, it would be a mistake to make a judgment on a player before seeing the guy make that astounding catch, run, throw, or interception, in full pads, when the guys on the other team can do stuff like block him, tackle him, surreptitiously hang onto his jersey, or “give him the business down there.”
On day one of camp, I thought I saw LB Chase Blackburn doing some long snapping. I only noticed it because one of the snaps sailed high and P Steve Weatherford had to jump to catch it. Today, I happened to be near LS Zak DeOssie and he confirmed that Chase is a backup snapper. Zak expressed confidence in both Chase and in center Jim Cordle.
With RB Da’Rel Scott sidelined, RB David Wilson got lots of opportunities and he made the most of them. On one running play he came to such a sudden stop that people thought that he might have injured himself. On another play in the 11 on 11s, QB David Carr threw a pass and it appeared to be tipped by the defense. Nevertheless, it was Wilson who caught it, and ran it down the field. Wilson demonstrated a great spin move on one play and on another, where he was blocked up the middle, he bounced it outside.
RBs D.J. Ware and Andre Brown also had their share of runs and catches. They looked comfortable catching passes and they ran with power. (See: Paragraph 3, above). FB Henry Hynoski caught a pass and RB Joe Martinek had a strong run in the 11 on 11s. As for RB Ahmad Bradshaw, he had a few runs and a catch. It was obvious that Ahmad has been holding back and maybe testing his wheels, or more accurately, the screws in them. Today, he ran with a little more speed. It was good to see.
In the punting drills it is still the usual suspects as returners: WRs Domenik Hixon, Jerrel Jernigan, Rueben Randle, Victor Cruz and CB Jayron Hosley. K Lawrence Tynes kicked at real goalposts today. Tynes made all five kicks. They were not long, but they were very accurate and very powerful. They all hit the three story camera crane that was positioned dead center behind the posts. On the third kick, the camera man on top of the crane actually caught the ball to the cheers of the fans, who packed the hill behind the crane.
I must say that DT Linval Joseph is one very huge human. He makes DE Justin Tuck look small and we all know what a terror Tuck is on defense. Tuck blocked a Manning pass in the 11 on 11s and the one time I looked, he easily circled around RT David Diehl on a running play up the middle.
Energy! That is Head Coach Tom Coughlin’s watch word for this season.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul had a fine block of an Eli Manning pass in the first set of 11 on 11s. In the 7 on 7s, CB Corey Webster had a fine interception of a pass intended for WR Victor Cruz. Nevertheless, Eli abused Webster all practice, including the very next pass which was caught by WR Rueben Randle.
The competition for third wide receiver continues. I would have to say that Randle is in the lead with Jerrel Jernigan second and Ramses Barden and Domenik Hixon tied for third. Of course JJ, Randle and Hixon are all special teams players so let’s make Hixon 3A and Barden 3B. I would estimate that so far in camp the ratio of throw/receptions have been 3:2:1 to Randle, Jernigan and Hixon/Barden, respectively.
Jerrel is not very tall and I did not expect him to do as well as he is doing. He has caught a bunch of passes and I really have not seen them go over his head or swatted away by taller defenders. I am not yet prepared to say that he is better than WR Sinorice Moss was (See: Paragraph 3). There is still the possibility that Eli is just better at hitting smaller receivers this year than when we had Sinorice.
There was a goal line drill and TE Martellus Bennett finally had a chance to impress. He leaped and rather easily caught a TD pass from Eli Manning. Bennett also had another catch today, so perhaps he is on his way. TE Bear Pascoe still makes the lion’s share of catches and has looked good.
TEs Adrien Robinson, Ryan Purvis, and Christian Hopkins have each had a catch or two in practice as have the many WRs whom I have not mentioned. Really, nobody has looked bad catching the ball so far (See: Paragraph 3, above.). Although today, I have to give special mention to WR David Douglas who had a TD in the goal line drill on a pass from QB Ryan Perrilloux and to WR Isaiah Stanback who, had about six catches today. He is not given much of a chance by many people. He had one dropped pass today and that probably cancelled out the six that he caught.