Jun 172014
 
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New York Giants Mini-Camp Practice (June 17, 2014)

New York Giants Mini-Camp Practice – Photo by Connor Hughes

As the summer weather finally made its way to East Rutherford, the New York Giants took the field at Quest Diagnostics Performance Center for the first day of the team’s three-day mandatory mini-camp.

Maybe the warmth was exactly what Eli Manning needed as he put together his finest performance of the offseason with the media watching. The two-time Super Bowl MVP was accurate, put some nice zip on the ball and connected with Rueben Randle for the practice’s play of the day. On a play fake, Manning rolled out to his right before unloading on one down the left side of the field, hitting Randle perfectly in stride.

As a side note, once again referees were in attendance at practice.

MISSING FACES

  • Same group was still out: OG John Jerry (knee), LT Will Beatty (leg), RG Chris Snee (elbow), WR Mario Manningham (knee), RB Peyton Hillis (undisclosed muscle), and CB Trumaine McBride (hip). Tom Coughlin said Snee’s surgically repaired elbow was bothering him; Beatty assured me he will be ready for training camp. LB Jon Beason (foot) was obviously out too.

SPECIAL TEAMS

In what is looking like a trend during practice, the Giants began with their special teams punt drill. Unlike we’d seen the last two media-available OTAs, the Giants didn’t appear to work any gunners, simply returners and the front line of the punt team.

  • The media was finally able to see WR Odell Beckham Jr. in action…sort off. New York’s first-round pick participated in the individual portion of practice and also fielded some punts. It looks as if CB Walter Thurmond is the odd-man out when Beckham goes back to field. Rotation went as follows:  WR Trindon Holliday, WR Rueben Randle, Odell Beckham Jr., and WR Victor Cruz. Thurmond was over with the returners, he just didn’t field any.
  • One nice little variation seen during this portion of practice. The Giants ran a fake punt, snapping the ball directly to S Quintin Demps. Not sure if they’d pull it out in the regular season, but it was there. Looked very similar to the design used when RB Da’Rel Scott scored in the preseason versus the Patriots.
  • Not directly after, but later in practice the Giants worked on kick off/kick return. Rotation went as follows: Quintin Demps, Trindon Holliday, WR Jerrel Jernigan, and RB Michael Cox. Beckham was in the area, but did not field any.

OFFENSE

Following the special teams, the Giants transitioned to a split offense/defense. It was tough to see the defense as they worked off in the distance, so we’ll still with offense.

  • Nearly every time a tight end talks, he speaks about how much the position moves around compared to last year. They aren’t lying. There was one particular formation in which the Giants came out with three tight ends: Kellen Davis in the slot, Larry Donnell in the traditional position and Daniel Fells split out wide right.
  • Because there was no defense, RB David Wilson was able to partake. The former first-round pick worked with the No. 2’s. When Wilson is healthy, it looks like rotation will read as follows: Rashaad Jennings, David Wilson,  and Andre Williams.
  • The fullback has been used very, very little during the offseason, but today John Conner came in with the first-team offense. I wouldn’t look much into it, but potentially he has the early edge.

After running through some full offense, without the defense, the Giants offense split up. First, the wideouts went and caught passes from the coaches while the tight ends worked with the quarterbacks.

  • First off, get this out of the way early, no drops from this group.
  • TE Xavier Grimble moves with some pretty good speed for his size. You can tell he has some power, too. Would be interesting to see him and a defensive back in the open field.
  • TE Adrien Robinson continues to flash. He caught one in the flat and turned up the field, tip-toeing down the sideline. He demonstrated some good balance.

After about 15 minutes of running the route tree, the tight ends went off to work on blocking and the WR’s came together.

  • Saw a few drops. Rueben Randle missed one, Odell Beckham Jr. and Corey Washington, too.
  • If Eli made the play of the day, Odell Beckham Jr. made the “catch of the day.” Running an out route, Beckham jumped in the air (showing off his vertical) adjusting to the ball in the process, caught it at its highest point before toe-tapping to stay in bounds. It was very impressive.

  • Not sure if it was a point of emphasis in the offseason, but Rueben Randle looks very good running routes. The third-year pro is smooth in and out of breaks and has some good burst. He makes it look easy. Beckham, on the other hand, may have been showing some effects from hamstring strain. He didn’t look 100 percent in his breaks and lacked the speed so many have talked about.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL

Following the individual portion of practice, the Giants came together for their two-minute drill.

  • First thing is first, Jameel McClain is your starting middle linebacker while Beason is out. In the nickel package, he works with Jacquian Williams. In the base, it’s him, Williams and rookie Devon Kennard. Kennard really seems to be impressing coaches.
  • We saw a very interesting formation with the nickel package. Instead of a traditional four-man/two linebacker package the Giants defense read as follows: Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown at safety, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Prince Amukamara outside with Walter Thurmond in the slot. On the line, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, DT Cullen Jenkins and DE Damontre Moore. Mathias Kiwanuka played a roaming LB/DE position.
  • Kiwanuka hinted at it and even took some reps during 7-on-7, but it appears he’s working some at LB again.
  • DE Kerry Wynn had a would-be sack on Ryan Nassib.
  • With Chris Snee and Will Beatty out, the Giants’ offensive line read as follows: Charles Brown (LT), Geoff Schwartz (LG), J.D. Walton (C), Brandon Mosley (RG), and Justin Pugh (RT). I would almost expect that RG position to be John Jerry’s come camp if Snee still isn’t able to go.
  • Eli Manning hit Adrien Robinson for what would have been a touchdown down the seam. Again, Robinson continues to flash. There is no sign if he’s in the lead for the spot atop the depth chart, the Giants are still working in a rotation.
  • Devon Kennard made a nice play. Manning took a three-step drop and looked for someone in the flat, couldn’t tell if TE or RB, but Kennard came in on a blitz and batted the ball down at the line. There were three-to-four passes that were batted. It’s obvious the ball is coming out of the quarterback’s hand faster and the defense looks like they’ve picked up on it.
  • The running back seems to definitely be featured in the passing game. I can’t count how many times we saw RB Rashad Jennings hit with one in the flat where he was the primary target.
  • During the two-minute drill, Ben McAdoo spent a lot of time with the tight ends, standing around whoever wasn’t on the field.
  • One area of Ryan Nassib’s game that is very similar to former quarterback David Carr’s is his ability to run with the ball. He’s not Mike Vick fast, but very shifty. He has some wheels and can accelerate, too. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him break off a few this preseason.
  • This was the portion of practice when Manning hit Randle. Manning had easily his best day of practice in which the media were allowed to attend. He looked in mid-season form.

7-ON-7

After the two-minute drill, the Giants went to 7-on-7.

  • He didn’t get many, but Mathias Kiwanuka got some reps at linebacker. He’s versatile and could be an option.
  • On the sideline, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie practiced his one-handed interceptions again. It’s impressive, I must say. He palms the ball coming directly down on top of it. A few different players took turns throwing.
  • Adrien Robinson again made a nice grab down the middle, juking and maneuvering his way through defenders after the grab.

11-ON-11

The Giants ended practice in their normal fashion, working a straight 11-on-11 drill with the starting offense versus the starting defense.

  • LT Will Beatty sighting: The offensive tackle was walking around the outskirts of the field with no considerable limp. He told me later he wasn’t 100%, but close.
  • Jerrel Jernigan’s strong start to the end of the season looks to have put him in good faith with the coaching staff. He’s gotten all looks as the outside wide receiver opposite Randle with Victor Cruz in the slot.
  • Manning made a real nice play on a play-action bootleg. He rolled out to his left, threw across his body, and made an accurate throw to Victor Cruz cutting across the field. He hit Cruz in stride, not something that is easy to do when throwing across your body.
  • The offense seems to be getting the play off at a much quicker pace than in OTAs. I counted a bunch of times when the ball was snapped with 10-15 seconds on the play clock. You’ve gotta figure the more comfortable the team gets, the more that number will grow.
  • WR Marcus Harris burned CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie bad on a double move. Eli hit him in stride, as he did with nearly every target, for a touchdown in the back of the endzone.
  • Adrien Robinson again caught one down the middle of the field. There is no clear indication of who’s No. 1, but I’d give the edge to the former fourth-round pick.
  • Practice once again ended with a touchdown…this one not from the offense. Eli Manning fired a rocket to Jerrel Jernigan who had the pass bounce off his hands. Antrel Rolle jumped in the air, caught it with one hand and returned it all the way for a score. The whistle was blown well before Rolle reached the end zone, but he wasn’t stopping.

YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED

As has been the case all off season, we asked what you wanted us to observe.

FROM VIGGIE – Does McClain take over calling the defensive plays?

  • Yup, that’s all McClain now. He was the middle linebacker and made all reads and adjustments.

FROM ALLIGATOR PIE – Defensive ends, who looks physically prepared this year to smash face O tackles when called for?

  • Kiwanuka looks the same as he always does. JPP looks good. Damontre Moore also added about five pounds to his frame.

FROM MUSHROOM – How is Mosley doing? Is Paysinger getting any MLB reps? Anyone surprising you (good or bad)?

  • No reps for Paysinger at MLB. Tough to say on Mosley, no contact and he’s playing guard. It’s tough to really mess up.

FROM BOBBY EPPS – How is Kerry Wynn doing?

  • He had a sack today.

FROM JIMMY GOOGS – How the Tight Ends look with the first and second teamers.

  • TE’s as a unit look good. They are much more involved in the offense then in the past. A formation was run today in which three were on the field at once, all running routes.

FROM TRAINMASTER – Does the defense look even more ahead than the offense from year’s passed?

  • It’s tough to say. This is my first year here, but today there was a noticeable climb from the offense from when we saw them in OTAs.
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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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