JULY 29, 2022 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT… (by Sy’56)
Before I get into the practice analysis, please note that I will get to training camp practices about 10 times over the next few weeks. I am fitting these trips in around my job, college scouting prep work, and a 2-year old.
-General feel of practice still seemed, obviously, a tad slow and introductory. Some close-to-full-speed team drills were the highlight, which I will get to. But with no pads on, there is still a lot that cannot be answered quite yet. I opted to put more attention on skill positions today (although I do have some thoughts on the pass rush vs OL).
-My first macro-level observation that you could maybe even call more of a confirmation: the rookies are a HUGE part of this team. From my count of the 22-25 “starters” on both sides of the ball, 20% of them were just drafted this past April. Another 20% of them were drafted in 2021. This is a really young team and could easily end up being the most amount of first/second players in “starting” roles Week 1 that we have seen in a long time.
INITIAL ROOKIE THOUGHTS
-The most impressive player on the field, and arguably the most active, was Wan’Dale Robinson. The suddenness, burst, and explosion was fun to watch. He was moving at a different speed than everyone else, both sides of the ball. He lined up everywhere, he ran every route, he got the ball several ways. The lack of size is obvious but it only shows up negatively when it comes to catch radius
-Evan Neal is a different dude. I get very into body types when looking at players initially. I know a lot about the field, as I have been working in it for a decade now. You could take numbers off every jersey and cover up faces, I would be able to tell you who the rookies are. The contrast in their bodies year one to year two is enormous. Not Neal. Neal looks like a 5-year vet when looking at his body from head to toe. I love how he carries himself too. Detail oriented, overly thoughtful. He played with 1st and 2nd team at RT. As I expect to see this season, it was an up and down day. Without the practice film and from a point of view that was less than ideal at times, I counted Neal giving up 2 sacks. Both to the inside shoulder where he over set on the edge and took a misstep when redirecting inside, losing balance. Kavyon Thibodeaux got him once, Oshane Ximines got him once. He did seamlessly pick up blitzes to the inside, he was mentally in tune.
-Thibodeaux was interesting to watch. As expected, he looked slender below the waist. He is broad though and there is natural power that comes from his hands. He was very consistent with his get off, the best on this line by far (Azeez Ojulari did not practice) but he was always under control. I loved the balance he showed and it set up his secondary rush moves. I counted 2 unofficial sacks (1 vs Andrew Thomas, 1 vs Neal). The bend comes easy to him and the technique looked beyond what you would expect from a rookie in practice number 3 of his career.
-I believe both tight ends Jordan Akins and Ricky Seals-Jones were out. Daniel Bellinger was in there with the ones and Austin Allen/Chris Myarick were in there with the twos. Both rookies have impressive body types. It isn’t really worth diagnosing their blocking. The team drills were almost all pass-based and again, pads don’t go on until Monday. Bellinger was late to get off a chip block on two occasions and it threw off the timing of Jones getting the ball out. A common theme I will discuss below.
-Cor’Dale Flott was with the second string and he played on the outside, not nickel. Easy mover, stuck to guys downfield on broken plays and made an impressive pass break up in the end zone on a 40+ yard throw.
-4th rounder Dane Belton was entrenched right away with the ones. Initially a surprise to some, I’m sure. But remember the safety group on this team is thin-thin. Not just thin. I don’t want to take anything away from him yet (remember Gibril Wilson’s rookie year? A 5th rounder) but he is one of the young guys on this roster being thrown into the fire whether he’s ready or not. It was an interesting defensive day that I will get into later.
-The UNC lineman, Joshua Ezeudu and Markus McKethan had stand out traits, respectively. The former played both RT and LG with the second string. His foot speed/quickness and rapid fire hand work is going to suit him well and will get him on the field soon. And based on how the interior played today as a group, we will see him on the field soon regardless. McKethan is huge but athletic looking. He does not seem overly fluid yet but from my viewpoint, it looks more mental that physical. When he did have his mind made up, he moved plenty fast enough. But more often than not, he looked like he was still figuring out his steps and role play-to-play.
-NYG has a new offense. NYG has a new defense. Fair trade off, right? If that is the case, there is no disputing the offense is starting off camp behind the defense. There are two ways you can view it, choose your path.
-Yes, the amount of pre-snap motion and mis-direction was more than we are used to seeing from this team. It should help Daniel Jones diagnose at least some of the plans the defense has. It also appears to be aimed at helping the pass catchers (including backs) speed up their option-route decision making. Playing in this offense is going to be challenging mentally. These guys are going to need help when it comes to making the right decisions on option routes and that pre-snap motion should help.
-However, it will only help if you understand what you’re looking at. Kadarius Toney and Richie James both ran wrong routes (the latter got an earful from Jones). Barkley went the wrong direction on a blitz up the middle that would have resulted in a sack by Tae Crowder. Confusion post-snap on alignment two times caused the ire of coaches as well.
-The interior of the offensive line was hard to watch if I’m being completely honest. No Jon Feliciano at center meant a rotation between Jamil Douglas and Ben Bredeson. Dexter Lawrence handled them both with ease and Douglas rolled a snap back. Both Jones and Tyrod Taylor were both shuffled around for the majority of deep drop backs. I think that LG spot is very much up in the air and NYG better hope Feliciano brings more stability to center.
-How did Jones look overall? Not bad, not great. That is all I have for you. I did not see any standout throws but I did see a couple that were air-mailed over the head of his target by at lest 3-4 feet. His biggest play was a scramble down the right sideline and as we know, kid has wheels. He can really move and I expect to see that as a big part of the offense à la Josh Allen.
-Taylor is the best NYG backup we have seen since….maybe ever? I still think he is one of the best 32 quarterbacks in the NFL. The ease within his footwork and fluid hips during his release are so smooth to watch.
-The receiver group was a steady rotation of Wan’Dale Robinson, Kadarius Toney, David Sills, and Kenny Golladay. There was so much variety when it came to where they lined up. Toney seemed to have his live-snaps limited as he eases in but his quickness after the catch is going to be a dangerous weapon. Him and Robinson are the offense in the passing game, no question. Toney also looked swift as a punt returner.
-The backups did not have a ton of standouts, but Matt Breida plays at a different speed than others. He had one or two touches and it was easy to see how fast he accelerated. It did not look like Barkley was going full speed, so maybe Breida stood out even further in that regard. Nonetheless, he is going to be an exciting element to this offense.
-Stay glass half full with me. This defense and the complexity of it was what caused NYG’s offensive confusion and lack of fluidity. They played mostly dime and nickel packages. When one LB came off the field, it was Blake Martinez while Crowder stayed on. It appeared safety Xavier McKinney was calling the plays but I’m not completely sure.
-McKinney looks like the one potential “superstar” of this defense. He moves at a different speed than everyone else and reminded me a bit of Minkah Fitzpatrick from PIT. All over the place, no wasted motion, very sure steps. He almost picked off a Jones pass on a very acrobatic play on a crossing route. He sniffs things out in a hurry.
-Darnay Holmes had the play of the day and an argument could be made he was the defensive MVP of practice. On a 1-step drop back throw to the flat, Holmes made a break on the ball before it was thrown. The result? Definite pick six. He was sent on multiple blitzes from different angles and, at the very least, pressured the passer multiple times.
-The defensive line shuffled between 2- and 3-man fronts. Leonard Williams and Jihad Ward saw most of the snaps between the guard and tackle on most snaps. Ward is a vocal player. Dexter Lawrence came on for what I would call 50% of the first string’s snaps, maybe a tad more. I was glad to see him as the nose tackle for most of the odd man fronts. He had tremendous push on every play. Again, no pads, but notable.
-Aaron Robinson started at CB with Adoree’ Jackson. Robinson is really physical, perhaps too much. He took a cheap shot at David Sills (a day after taking a cheap shot at Robinson) and Daboll quickly got in his face. By far the most angry I saw him all day. Robinson was getting beat in coverage, perhaps he was frustrated.
-The backups did not “dominate” the way the starters did. Micah McFadden and Carter Coughlin were smart and instinctive. Andrew Adams was a shot caller from safety. Nickel Khalil Dorsey made a really nice pass breakup when covering Austin Proehl.
-Elerson Smith was someone I really tried to hone in on. He split time with both the first and second string. He looks bigger than his listed 245. The height and length easily stand out but he looks thick too. His first two-three steps as a pure edge rusher are notably slower than Thibodeaux.
It would be foolish to have strong reactions to a practice so early in camp in either direction. The one thing I walked away with was that this rookie class is going to be a HUGE part of this team. For better or worse. Robinson is going to get the ball from any and all directions and he has the combination of lower body strength, agility, and slipperiness to create a lot on his own. Neal and Thibodeaux will be Week 1 starters, I have very little doubt there. And don’t sleep on Flott passing Robinson at corner if what I saw today continues.
The defense is going to be exotic, we know that. The fear? Good offenses can counter that easily if they win one-on-one matchups in coverage. The bad offenses? It will create playmaking opportunities for the likes of McKinney, Holmes, and Julian Love. I think we will see a lot of swings for the fences. A lot of homeruns, a lot of strikeouts.
Offensively, I feel better about the guys up front but that isn’t saying much when comparing them to previous groups. I’ve been down on this OL situation for almost a decade now. The OC + LG situation is going to determine most of it (in addition to staying healthy, obviously). I already feel good about the young OT combination and Glowinski will give us the Seubert-type dependability.
Can they score more points? I mean, they scored the 2nd least amount in 2021 and there weren’t many pieces added to the puzzle. The new brain trust alone will add more ceiling to this group and you have to think they can reverse some of the health misfortune. To me, it does not come down to Barkley. It does not come down to Golladay. It comes down to Jones, Toney, and the rookie Robinson. Jones being an obvious catalyst because of the position he plays. But in more detail, he needs to get the ball out in a hurry and improve the accuracy. Hit these guys in stride to create those important YAC opportunities. Work with the small reach-radius. Know when to tuck and run (QB scrambles are the most efficient offensive plays in football with QBs who are runners).
I won’t be back at camp for another week.
The following players remain on injury lists:
- Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List: WR Sterling Shepard (Achilles), OC Nick Gates (leg), and OT Matt Peart (knee).
- Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) List: LB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring)
OC Jon Feliciano (heat exhaustion), TE Ricky Seals-Jones (unknown), TE Jordan Akins (unknown), DL Nick Williams (unknown), and ILB Darrian Beavers (unknown) did not practice.
“We’ll probably have a few guys down today relative to heat and hydration and just to be smart on that end,” said Head Coach Brian Daboll before practice.
THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:
WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice Saturday morning (10:00AM-noon). The practice is open to the public. Head Coach Brian Daboll and select players will also address the media.