Jun 052014
 
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Mike Patterson (93) and Kelcy Quarles (97), New York Giants (June 5, 2014)

Mike Patterson (93) and Kelcy Quarles (97) – Photo by Connor Hughes

Please note, after practice a lot during was discussed in regards to ex-New York Giant safety Will Hill. We will have a separate article coming recapping all of that. “Quick hits and tidbits” is designed for your practice overview.

Organized Team Activity (OTA) practice No. 6 – the second available to the New York media – wrapped up Thursday afternoon as the New York Giants continued their offseason program. Unlike the first, rain and wind forced the Giants into their “field house.” Located directly next to their outdoor practice facilities, the field house is an enclosed building with two full-length football fields.

With practice being held inside and on two field as opposed to nearly half a dozen, most, if not all, of practice was visible.

As was the case last week, we asked you, the fans, what you wanted BBI to keep an eye on at practice. At the end of our practice report, you will find your questions answered. First, lets set the stage.

Missing faces…

  • There were a few absences from practice today. The regular candidates – OG John Jerry, WR Mario Manningham, LT William Beatty – missed practice again and will be out until training camp. RG Chris Snee missed practice as a precautionary/planned measure.
  • There was a new addition to the injury report: WR Odell Beckham Jr. New York’s first-round pick tweaked his hamstring near the end of practice on Tuesday and sat out today. There were mixed reviews on when the Giants expect him back. Tom Coughlin said “it could be more than one day,” meanwhile Beckham seemed to think he’d be out there tomorrow if there was practice.
  • Jerrel Jernigan was another absentee, missing practice due to a death in the family.

The starters…

As was a huge plus with the practice being held indoors and the players being closer for the visible eye, starting lineups were more evident.

The starting offensive:

  • Justin Pugh (RT), Brandon Mosley (RG), J.D. Walton (C), Geoff Schwartz (LG), Charles Brown (LT), Rueben Randle (OWR), Victor Cruz (SWR), Adrien Robinson (TE), Marcus Harris (OWR), Eli Manning (QB), Rashad Jennings (RB).

The starting defense:

  • Jason Pierre-Paul (DE), Mike Patterson (DT), Cullen Jenkins (DT), Mathias Kiwanuka (DE), Jameel McClain (SAM), Jon Beason (MIKE), Spencer Paysinger (WILL), Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (CB), Antrel Rolle (SS), Stevie Brown (FS), Walter Thurmond III (Nickle), Prince Amukamara (CB).

Now on to practice…

Special Teams:

  • The Giants opened practice with a full 11-on-11 punt return drill. Unlike the first OTA, the media was allowed to stand near where the returners fielded from a machine. Today Steve Weatherford was kicking them back. New York worked in a three-man rotation for returners: Trindon Holliday started, followed by Randle,Thurmond and Victor Cruz. Thurmond muffed the last punt of the day.
  • The Giants’ field house doesn’t really have the highest of roofs, so fielding for the returners was a bit annoying. I counted five of Weatherford’s kicks that smacked the ceiling, then came straight down.
  • The Giants starting “gunners,” or those that line up outside and chase down the punts, worked in two teams. The first featured Charles James and Travis Howard; the second Zack Bowman and Bennett Jackson. Jackson, the Giants’ sixth-round pick, downed one off a bounce at the five-yard-line.

Offense:

  • After the initial special teams drill, the Giants split up between offense and defense. Running backs, quarterbacks, wideouts and tight ends all went on one field; the defense to the other.
  • The offense ran through your basic warm-up drill with the QB’s tossing passes to their receiving options. I took note of the types of patterns the targets were running. Each started on the left side of the field, ran a drag before instantly turning it into a curl in front of the quarterback. After catching the pass, the player turned up field, ran through a few players with bags and then either hurdled, or darted around, bags lying on the ground. I didn’t witness any drops occur during this drill.
  • During his college career, RB Andre Williams wasn’t exactly a threat out of the backfield, so I tried to keep an eye on him during this drill. From what I saw, he went through one rotation and caught the ball. The one thing that I noticed was how he caught the ball: no hands, pure body.
  • Not sure if this was a drill, or just Eli Manning messing around, but after the above drill broke, the quarterbacks gathered together. Manning stood as if he was lunging forward, then took the football and proceeded to hand it off between his right and left hands quickly between his legs. He did this roughly 20 times, then passed it off to Ryan Nassib followed by Curtis Painter. After one rotation, the QB’s switched it up going between both legs, then behind the back. Not that it counts for anything, but Manning moved the ball in-and-out the fastest of the bunch.
  • After that basketball dribble drill, the the receivers (TEs included) split from the running backs. Most likely nothing, but Nassib went with the running backs and practiced handoffs while Manning and Painter threw passes.
  • Offensively, the ball certainly comes out of the quarterback’s hand quick. Curls, roll-outs, ins and outs looks to have replaced New York’s signature double moves from years past. Comparing this week and last, Manning looks much more comfortable with who he is throwing the ball to. Although, that could have been because there were no defenders.

Two-Minute Drill:

  • Granted there is no contact, but one player that really jumped out was RB Rashaad Jennings. The free-agent acquisition made a couple real nice moves in the hole to dart free to daylight. Jennings has a nice second gear too, pulling away from defenders.
  • As was mentioned above, the offense seems to feature a lot of draws, outs, curls and screens. Compared to the first practice, we didn’t see nearly as many running-back screens, but instead only three or four to tight ends and wide receivers.
  • Kelcy Quarles, a rookie free agent defensive tackle, came up with what would have been a sack on Eli Manning. He got a nice jump to get past I believe Geoff Schwartz.
  • The first time we saw Manning in the 2-minute drill last week, the quarterback was a bit timid with the ball. Nearly everything was a check-down, screen or dump off. Today, Manning took a few more shots down the field. He made a really nice throw to Marcus Harris on a deep out 15-20 yards down the field. Following the pass, he was replaced by Nassib.
  • Nassib and Manning took all of the reps in the two minute drill. Maybe Nassib just doesn’t like the media because once again he wasn’t very impressive. He was nearly intercepted a few times, including one by CB Jayron Hosley in which the ball was ripped away. The Syracuse alum does show some good quickness out of the pocket, moving and extending place pretty regularly.

  • One thing to keep a big eye on as we go forward is the use of WR Trindon Holliday, not just on special teams, but on offense. The former Denver Bronco and Houston Texan is seeing a lot of action and impressing. Last week, he caught a pass on a drag and had a lot of room to run. Today, Holliday caught what would have been a 40-50 yard touchdown on a wheel route. The 5-5, 166-pound LSU alum got behind the secondary and Nassib found him.
  • Shortly after the pass to Holliday, Manning came back in for Nassib. WR Julian Talley replaced Harris and TE Kellen Davis replaced Adrien Robinson. The TE’s sub in and out for each other pretty regularly, but Robinson is normally the first one out. He seems to have an early edge.
  • Speaking of Adrien Robinson, he continues to flash. He made a couple nice grabs including one down the seam for 10-12 yards. I asked Tom Coughlin after practice what he thought of the former fourth-round pick and he said he’s been “impressed.”
  • One thing we saw a lot during the two-minute drill was the movement of the tight end. One time, the position lined up in the backfield, once in the slot. One particular formation had a TE in the normal position (Robinson), and then one (Daniel Fells) in the slot. That certainly isn’t something that has been seen recently.
  • Antrel Rolle had a good practice, nearly coming away with an interception. We saw a couple different variations of the safety rotation during this portion of practice. Combinations included: Rolle and Cooper Taylor, Rolle and Stevie Brown, Taylor and Quintin Demps, and Thomas Gordon and Demps.
  • For those that were wondering, Cooper Taylor has replaced Will Hill on the second team.
  • Probably the highlight of practice: Eli Manning found Victor Cruz on an out after the Pro-Bowl wideout got wide open. After hauling in the pass, Cruz went full-steam up the sideline… you would have thought it was the Super Bowl. Seeing this as a challenge, Prince Amukamara, Jon Beason and Antrel Rolle sprinted after him laughing each step of the way.
  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was beaten twice by my count. Once by Julian Talley, once by Holliday (seriously, Holliday is impressing as WR).
  • On a draw, Andre Williams had a nice juke to get to the next level.
  • Kellen Davis made a real nice grab down the seam. That’s an area we’ve seen the TE’s attacking pretty frequently.
  • We had a Damontre Moore flash. The DE jolted into the backfield and disrupted a toss play. Showed great speed and jump.

Special Teams/Kick Return:

  • After the two-minute drill, the Giants transitioned to kickoffs. Brandon McManus handled the KO duties. The rotation for returners worked as follows: Quintin Demps – Trindon Holliday – David Wilson. Demps has a real nice burst when he hits the extra gear.

The Defense:

  • After the kickoff/return practice, the Giants split up practice again with offense and defense. Having previously watched the offense, I turned my intention to the ‘D.’
  • The second-team safeties were Quintin Demps and Cooper Taylor. Third team were C.J. Burnett/Nat Berhe and Thomas Gordon. Newly acquired CB/S Kyle Sebetic worked entirely as a corner.
  • The Giants split up the starting defense into a “nickel” base during one portion. In this package, Jacquain Williams entered as a LB with Jon Beason. Also, Stevie Brown spent a few reps up in the box. The second-team nickel LB’s were Jameel McClain and Spencer Paysinger.
  • CB Charles James has been very active in the two practices the media have seen. The second-year player in constantly talking, moving, running and just looks to be having a blast on the field. In the two-minute drill, James nearly came away with an interception off Nassib.
  • One funny situation occurred during the above drill, several starters played “offense” with caps on just to mimic offensive moves. Rodgers-Cromartie, who lined up in front of James, didn’t take this too lightly. The free-agent acquisition showed some good burst off the line and actually got a few steps on an unexpecting James. This didn’t sit well with Demps, who called James over for a few words. Nice leadership shown by Demps.

11-on-11 Drills:

  • Not too much excitement in this portion of practice. RB Peyton Hillis made a few nice moves and showed a good burst. More quick passes and curls.
  • Manning hit Cruz over the middle on a nice pass. Eli drove the ball pretty well and it had some zip.
  • Curtis Painter got a few reps here. On one, he tried to find a target (couldn’t make out who) over the middle but Jacquian Williams flashed across for the bat-down at the line.
  • Harris flashed once on a real nice play over the middle from Nassib. He made a few catches with some additional reps.

Overall Impressions…

  • In just a week, you can tell Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo is installing more and more of his offense. We saw a few deep shots, some nice variations and different formations. It’s going to be fun to watch the offense evolve over the offseason.
  • I mentioned it before, but Trindon Holliday may be a very nice addition to the offense. He showed a few times that he has some game-breaking ability. If you get him in space…look out. Rueben Randle is also having a pretty good offseason.
  • The offensive line looked a lot better this afternoon than it did last week. Looks like they’re starting to jell together.
  • Charles James continues to flash showing he has made some significant improvements from a year ago.

Your Questions Answered…

FROM SNEAKERS O’TOOLE - I’d like to know how comfortable Eli looks on his feet after coming off the ankle thing. I know he was taking snaps, a lot of short throws apparently. I’d like to know if he looks comfortable planting and driving the way a QB must to deliver a ball with power.
— He looked a lot better today than he did last week. Drove on a few and put some nice zip on the ball. He’s getting better and better with each passing day.

FROM BLUE42 - Can you please detail how Andre Williams is doing catching the ball and if the screen pass is still a W.I.P.?
— Believe it or not, we didn’t see many screen passes to RBs worked on today, mostly just to TEs and WRs. I saw Williams catch one pass with his body. He wasn’t target on anything else.

FROM GREAT WHITE GHOST – Who looks like they have the edge in the Fullback competition?
— It’s very difficult to tell this early on. Most of the formations the Giants have been running don’t feature a FB (shotgun). The few times Eli has been under center, Henry Hynoski has gotten the first reps.

FROM WEATHERMAN – Are they showing more 4 CB alignments with the newly acquired quality depth at the position?
— I haven’t seen any four-corner sets yet.

FROM KEOWEEFAN – Cooper Taylor, is he showing progress?
— Taylor looks decent. Only reason I say that is because he hasn’t done anything to really stand out – nothing negative or positive. He says he’s put on weight and spent a lot of time in the weight room.

FROM RASBUTANT – See if you can get any quotes from players about Will Hill
— Antrel Rolle put it best that he wasn’t “surprised” at the situation and you can’t depend on a player that is getting suspended “year, after year, after year.”

FROM DAVIDINBMNY – The strongest position on paper for the team is CB. As opposed to the 3 safety look, are there any signs or indications that the 3 CB / 2 LB package will be used more often?
— Yup, all nickel package is three corner, two backer.

FROM ATL_GIANT – Please let us know if Snee looks healthy. Is he practicing fully? Is there any indication of where his performance level may be at the start of the season?
— He was out today. Precautionary reasons. Coughlin said it was part of the plan.

FROM JOEGUIDO – How does Eli like the new offensive scheme in comparison to what he had been running and does he think the new offense will produce?
— Much better from a week ago. He didn’t speak today.

FROM JAY IN TORONTO – I’d like to know who (either by your observation or what you’ve heard) is demonstrating accelerated development (esp Robinson, Nassib etc).
— Coughlin said he’s impressed with Robinson and Donnell.

THE NEXT MEDIA DAY IS THURSDAY, JUNE 12. BBI WILL ONCE AGAIN BE IN ATTENDANCE.

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Connor Hughes/BBI

Connor Hughes has been working in both the broadcasting and journalism fields for the last seven years. His work has been heard on WMCX, WBZC and Lenape District Television, while read on the pages of The Star-Ledger and The Burlington County Times. Connor can be reached via email (Connor_Hughes@bigblueinteractive.com) or on twitter (@Connor_J_Hughes)

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