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)

Jul 292014
 
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Larry Donnell, New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Larry Donnell shined at Giants’ camp – © USA TODAY Sports Images

JULY 29, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
Shortly after a practice earlier this week, Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin summed up the team’s offensive progression in one quick and simple, but incredibly effective, cliche.

“Two steps forward,” Coughlin said, “one step back.”

At Tuesday’s practice, the final one before receiving a day off on Wednesday, nothing could prove more true.

The offense moved up-and-down the field, Larry Donnell caught a pair of touchdowns and the line opened holes and kept defenders off of Manning’s back. Then came the step back. Running back David Wilson and his surgically-repaired neck walked off the field with a trainer. Coughlin confirmed after practice it was a ‘burner.’

While the team awaits additional news on Wilson, BigBlueInteractive.com has your complete practice report.

Rueben Randle, New York Giants (June 12, 2014)

Rueben Randle did not practice today – Photo by Connor Hughes

SETTING THE STAGE…
A few more players missed practice than the usual amount. Travis Howard, Trindon Holliday, Rueben Randle,Ross Weaver and Everett Dawkins all watched from the side. Odell Beckham Jr. fielded punts and caught balls from the jugs machine. Coughlin spoke after practice and said Randle had a hamstring issue and Holliday a knee. It didn’t sound serious.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
As always, the Giants opened up their practice with special teams. Yesterday the team practiced kickoff coverage and kick returns, today it was punt coverage and punt returns.

  • With Rueben Randle and Trindon Holliday sidelined, it was Odell Beckham Jr. (just catching), David Wilson, Jerrel Jernigan and Victor Cruz fielding punts. Not the best day for Jernigan, he muffed two. Charles James II got a few looks, too.
  • Not terribly sure the team would run it in a game, but Quintin Demps got two fake direct snaps sent his way. He took both around the edge. One to the right, one to the left.
  • Brandon McManus did a bit of punting his junior and senior year at Temple and he took a few snaps for the Giants’ today. Most of it was just to spell Steve Weatherford as the team practiced coverage drills.
  • Another Marcus Harris sighting. This time, the wideout ran down as a gunner and downed the ball inside the 5-yard line.
  • By my count, I had Josh Brown going 4-for-4 in practice today. McManus will get a chance to kick on Thursday.

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT…
I am trying something a little new today as we asked you, the fans, a particular player you wanted to have spotlighted during the individual portion of practice. By a slim margin, Will Beatty pulled away from Jason Pierre-Paul. (I checked just before walking out to observe practice).

Originally when camp started, reporters were allowed to walk all over the field. That seems to have changed as we’re now positioned in one spot on one field for most of the day. The offense walked to the other side of the field as we were stationed with the defense. Either way, I did my best to observe Beatty. He’s easy to find with his uniform.

  • Will Beatty, New York Giants (August 10, 2013)

    Will Beatty – © USA TODAY Sports Images

    If Beatty still feels pain in his leg, he hides it well. The Giants’ left tackle ran a drill where they were required to dead sprint after the running back got a handoff. Beatty moved very well. No sign of a limp on him.

  • Working with a teammate holding a bag, Beatty’s speed in extending his arms is really something to watch. That initial punch given to the bag creates quite the collision and actually knocked his bag-holder back a half step.
  • The first couple of steps Beatty takes are also pretty impressive. He has very, very quick feet for a guy of his size and can take three steps in the space some would take one.
  • In a drill where the linemen were required to get to the second level, Beatty beat nearly all linemen getting to the linebackers. He really isn’t your traditional big, blubbery lineman. The guy has some speed and is very athletic.

TWO MINUTE DRILL…
As is the case every practice, the Giants run two sets of “11-on-11″ where the offense goes up against the defense. Coughlin will vary what teams match up with each other. Either way, you’ll find highlights from both portions here, including the ‘Play of Practice.’ Overall, it was a pretty good showing from the offense. Much, much better than yesterday.

  • The first-team offense saw a few new faces getting the initial snaps. Adrien Robinson was the first tight end and Andre Williams was the first running back. Also, with Rueben Randle out, Mario Manningham filled in opposite Jerrel Jernigan with Victor Cruz in the slot.
  • Little bit of a different pattern, Peyton Hillis ran an out-route about 10 yards down the field and Eli Manning hit him.
  • Another variation of the ‘NASCAR’ package for the Giants. Robert Ayers and Mathias Kiwanuka (roaming/stand up) manned the outside with Cullen Jenkins and Jason Pierre-Paul in the middle.
  • Larry Donnell had his best practice of the summer by my count. The highlight? This one-handed grab on a fade route from Eli. Out of pure luck, I got it on tape. Going forward, BBI is going to try to shoot some more video and have it linked up with our Instagram account (@BigBlueInteractive). Be sure to give it a follow. (Side note: Thank you to Inside Football intern Emily Iannaconi for the help posting this).

  • John Conner had one of the bigger hits of camp, smacking Kerry Wynn (via Newsday’s Tom Rock. I was still trying to find a way to share the Donnell video). Also, Eric Herman had his first pancake of camp as he got Kelcy Quarles pretty good.
  • Really, really nice blocking by the offensive line on an Eli Manning pass attempt. Manning had about seven seconds to throw and a perfectly-developed pocket. The issue? No one was open. Manning eventually rolled out and hit Donnell in the flat.
  • In Rueben Randle’s absence, Jerrel Jernigan had another nice practice. He beat Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie twice on in-routes.
  • John Jerry got some work with the first team at guard for Brandon Mosley. Mosley took the majority of snaps, but I saw Jerry get a few.
  • Maybe he was offsides, maybe he wasn’t, but Jason Pierre-Paul got an incredible jump on an Eli Manning pass. Would-be sack for JPP there as long as no flags were thrown.
  • A few fans had asked about trickery, so here you go. For the first time since I remember Jeremy Shockey attempting a pass versus the Philadelphia Eagles, someone other than the quarterback threw the ball. Ryan Nassib tossed it to Peyton Hillis, who then pulled up and lofted one down the field in the direction of Larry Donnell. The halfback pass fell incomplete, but was still fun to see. Looks like offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo does have a few tricks up his sleeve.
  • Kellen Davis caught a touchdown from Curtis Painter, but Painter’s success was short lived. On his next pass, he was pick-sixed by Trumaine McBride. McBride was escorted to the endzone by Prince Amukamara, Walter Thurmond III and Stevie Brown. Interesting, Peyton Hillis ran with McBride to all the way to the endzone. Nice hustle from the running back.
Mario Manningham, New York Giants (June 18,2014)

Mario Manningham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SEVEN-ON-SEVEN…
Not much going on here. Few catches, few deflections. It was tough to see as the Giants created a wall blocking a lot portion of our view. Here are the highlights:

  • Larry Donnell caught his second touchdown of the practice when he found himself wide open on a corner route. Tom Coughlin has talked extensively about wanting someone, anyone, to step up at the position. Looks like Donnell has heard his call.
  • Another tight end flashed, Adrien Robinson. On an out-route, Robinson lunged forward and made a nice hands grab beating Jayron Hosley.
  • David Wilson, the last play I saw him in before he walked off the field, fumbled on a swing route. From what I saw, Wilson looked to catch the ball and then attempt to tip-toe down the sideline. As he reached forward for more yards, he just basically dropped the ball. Some said they saw Spencer Adkins punch it out, but I saw him drop it. Either way, it was a fumble.
  • Eli Manning hit Mario Manningham for a touchdown on a slant route. Manningham has looked good these last two days.
  • Another flash from Marcus Harris. He beat Prince Amukamara for a touchdown on an out-route near the goal line.

RANDOM OBSERVATION…
Charles James II really is a character. After practice, the defensive backs all huddled around doing a chant as James danced away in the middle of them all. The group concluded with a “DB’s” bellow before all simultaneously sliding out.

The Giants will have off tomorrow before returning to practice again on Thursday and Friday. The team plays its first preseason game on Sunday.

Jul 292014
 
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David Wilson, New York Giants (July 27, 2013)

David Wilson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Updated July 29, 6:27pm 

David Wilson, New York’s first-round pick in 2012 who recently returned to practice after undergoing neck surgery in January, left Tuesday’s training camp practice with a neck burner.

Wilson was injured when he caught a shovel pass from quarterback Curtis Painter, turned upfield and ran – with his head down – into guard Eric Herman. When players separated, Mark Herzlich had recovered a fumble and athletic trainers were running to Wilson’s side.

Wilson has been taken to the Hospital for Special Surgery to undergo a number of tests.

“We’ll hear what (the doctors) have to say first,” Coughlin said. “We were all praying that (his neck) would not be an issue and he’d be able to come back and go to work and do what…he was cleared.

“We’ll see. We’ll see. I’m not going to speculate on what it is. We’ll see what the doctors say.”

According to WebMD, a burner, or stinger, is a nerve injury resulting from trauma to the neck or shoulder area. The severity of said injury cannot not be known until further examination from a doctor.

Last year, Giants’ linebacker Dan Connor suffered a ‘stinger’ versus the Cowboys, but returned the same season to play for the Carolina Panthers. Wilson suffered a ‘stinger’ several weeks later versus the Eagles, missed the entire season and needed offseason surgery to fuse his vertebrae.

Wilson worked religiously to return from the injury that had quickly put his career in doubt. He missed the team’s entire offseason conditioning program before gaining medical clearance on July 21, the day the New York reported for training camp.

“I’m definitely excited,” Wilson said the day he got medical clearance. “I got cleared this morning around 9:00. That was the best news I’d gotten in awhile… The doctor told me I’m good to go. He said to have a good season and stay healthy.”

Jul 282014
 
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New York Giants Training Camp (July 27, 2014)

New York Giants Training Camp – Photo by Connor Hughes

JULY 28, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The Giants’ GPS must have been off the chart.

Practicing for the second day in full pads, New York called it quits after roughly 70 minutes (the practice was supposed to go two hours). The team broke after Jay Bromley tackled Kendall Gaskins – much to coach Tom Coughlin’s displeasure – and headed inside for another “recovery stretch.” This was the second time in the last five days the Giants have ended practice after an hour.

While it may have been per GPS request, it also could have been to stop the dismal display of offense shown by Eli Manning and the boys. After yesterday’s promise, it was back to square one for Big Blue on Monday.

Below you will find the complete practice report. Be sure to recap all the live action as it happened.

Odell Beckham, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Odell Beckham continues to sit out – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SETTING THE STAGE…
Trindon Holliday returned to practice, Odell Beckham and Xavier Grimble were both held out. Coughlin confirmed after practice that both were visiting the “doctors” for further examination on their injured hamstrings.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
Some interesting happenings with the Giants’ special teams, getting some full contact reps. Both the punt/punt return and kick/kick return units went through different variations of drills.

  • And the legend of Devon Kennard writes another chapter. In a punt drill where the line’s goal was to get around their blockers and get to the punter, Kennard pancaked fellow rookie Dan Fox. The hit wasn’t the only for Kennard on the day. More on that later.
  • With no Odell Beckham Jr. to field punts (but not run), David Wilson got some additional looks. He muffed one, but fielded the rest.
  • On the kick return drill, when David Wilson cut up the field a coach was heard yelling, “High and tight!” I couldn’t make out the yeller, but it’s certainly something the team’s harping on with the former first-round pick.
  • It was Brandon McManus‘ day to kick and the place kicker went 3-for-4. The ball left his foot very weirdly on his one miss. It could have been he slipped. Either way, that brings McManus’ miss total to one. Josh Brown has missed two since camp started last week.

INDIVIDUAL…
I stuck with the offense again today as the Giants were practicing on field three. It is difficult when the team ends up on the corner field as it’s a journey to wherever the other group goes. Tomorrow, I’ll keep an eye on the defense.

  • The wide receivers, running backs, tight ends and wide receivers joined the quarterbacks to work through a drill similar to the gauntlet. The receiver would catch the ball on a curl, then run through three bags being swung by Peyton Hillis, John Conner and Henry Hynoski before running in the middle of two tackling dummies. Not too many drops. The one notable observation was Andre Williams continues to catch with his body.
  • After splitting up, the wide receivers worked an interesting “read-and-react” drill. The wideouts needed to read their positional coach before breaking on a number of different routes. No player made any notable mistakes that I saw.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
I am still not totally sure if this is the two-minute drill, or the pace the Giants’ offense now moves. Either way, it wasn’t pretty. The Giants ran the full-team 11-on-11 both after individuals, and at the end of practice. Not too many highlights from either time so we’ll condense them in one place.

  • Eli Manning seemed to be quite interested in going deep to Rueben Randle. The quarterback threw his way three times, all three incomplete. The first came on a play-action fake on the first play of the two-minute drill. Zack Bowman made an impressive interception that Giants.com caught on film. The second pass Manning thrown Randle’s way was overthrown and the third probably should have been caught.

  • The more the Giants display their offense, the more it becomes evident offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo loves the quick passes. Be it bubble screens, slants or outs, the ball certainly comes out of Manning’s hand faster.
  • Ryan Nassib didn’t have a very good practice, but he did make a beautiful pass to Preston Parker on the sideline. Parker made a spinning back-shoulder grab before toe-tapping his feet. He’s another young receiver who has flashed this summer.
  • Eli Manning hit Daniel Fells for a touchdown between a couple of defenders near the goal line. In an overall bad performance by the offense, there were a few good signs from the tight end position. Larry Donnell made the “Catch of Practice” in the second 11-on-11 portion.

  • First fight of camp. Henry Hynoski and Jameel McClain went at it. The entire team came together in an attempt to break it up.
  • The Giants displayed their new “NASCAR” package for a couple of plays. Robert Ayers Jr. and Damontre Moore played the end positions why Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka held down the fort at defensive tackle.
  • Ryan Nassib’s struggles continued. Aside from struggling with accuracy, he tried to one-hand a high snap from Weston Richburg, missed and fumbled the ball.
  • One other player who stood out a bit was Mario Manningham. He made a nice sliding back-shoulder grab on the sideline and another on a comeback route. He said he’s feeling “better and better” each day, now he’s showing it.
  • Charles Brown gave William Beatty a little break in the second 11-on-11. On his first snap, Brown jumped offsides.
  • Victor Cruz made an impressive grab on a wheel-ish route down the left sideline. Eli Manning hit him with a pass, perfectly beating the zone.

SEVEN-ON-SEVEN…
The Giants kicked the linemen to the side and went at it a bit in a seven-on-seven. Not too many highlights to take note of here. As has been mentioned, it wasn’t the offense’s best day.

Victor Cruz, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

  • Andre Williams continues to try to catch everything with his body. The issue with this is if the pass comes in hot, it can potentially bounce off of the chest portion of the shoulder pads and result in an incompletion or worse. This happened today on an attempted screen. Williams has a lot of potential, but his receiving game is a work in progress.
  • Curtis Painter is starting to get a bit more looks at quarterback than he had in the first week. My guess is it’s to try to light a fire under Ryan Nassib – anything to get the quarterback going at this point is in play.

RUNNING DRILL…
After missing the Devon Kennard hit on David Wilson yesterday, I made sure to take note of what happened in this drill today. Essentially the safeties, defensive line and linebackers join with the offensive line, tight ends, fullback and running backs for a full-contact running drill. Think the reverse of the seven-on-seven.

  • Markus Kuhn is a very, very violent man. He continues to impress with his pure strength and the thing that’s gotten my attention is the nastiness he plays with. Every time he knocks someone over, he stares at them as they help themselves up.
  • Both fullbacks, John Conner and Henry Hynoski, looked good. Few stand-up blocks from both of them.
  • Another Devon Kennard sighting. On the first play of this drill, the rookie from USC came bolting in between the A/B gap and smacked Rashad Jennings. Right after making contact, Kennard clenched his fists together and let out a few bellows.
  • Johnathan Hankins put a pretty good shot on David Wilson, knocking him over. Wilson then popped right back up and continued running down the field.

The Giants will hold another practice open to the public tomorrow (1:20-3:30pm) before having the day of Wednesday. Stay tuned to BigBlueInteractive.com for your complete camp coverage.

Jul 282014
 
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Odell Beckham, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Odell Beckham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The ‘Giant’ saga involving New York first-round pick Odell Beckham Jr. turned another chapter on Tuesday as the wide receiver left East Rutherford for a doctor’s appointment. Beckham injured his hamstring during the Giants’ first training camp practice and has been sidelined every since.

“(Beckham and tight end Xavier Grimble) were in treatment and went over to the doctor,” Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin said after practice on Monday. (Grimble is also dealing with a hamstring issue).

While Coughlin didn’t confirm it entirely, the point of Beckham’s trip to the doctor could potentially be to have an MRI taken on the rookie’s injured hamstring. The additional testing could provide further information as to just how long Beckham might be out of practice.

Beckham initially injured his hamstring in the Giants’ voluntary organized team activities and missed the majority of the team’s mandatory mini-camp. Not having the explosive rookie on the field has frustrated Coughlin to say the least.

When asked on Sunday if he was a little disappointed, Coughlin answered bluntly.

“It’s more than that,” Coughlin said. “We’re trying to put a team together. We saw too much of that in the spring. It’d be nice to get him back practicing.”

The last two practices, Beckham had been catching balls from the team’s jug machine and fielding punts. While he never moved much from where he caught the ball, Coughlin said he had been looking “good.”

Beckham Jr. is scheduled to speak to the media on Tuesday. Stay tuned to BigBlueInteractive.com for live updates.

Jul 282014
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It’s one of the more commonly-asked questions at Giants’ training camp. Nearly every reporter has taken their shot at getting a different answer variation, all have kept their eyes peeled when it’s been displayed on the field.

How’s Eli Manning look in Ben McAdoo’s new West Coast Offense? What are the realistic expectations for the upcoming season?

Well, according to Manning and quarterback coach Danny Langsdorf, it seems the sky’s the limit.

“We’d love to be up there at 70 percent,” Langsdorf told The Star-Ledger’s Conor Orr. “It hasn’t been done very often. So that is the ultimate goal. We’d like to raise his completion percentage for sure. I don’t know about the history, maybe the Giants took more shots downfield, but I think there are different things that lead to that completion percentage but we’d love for him to shoot for 70.”

Manning didn’t hold back when asked the same expectation. In fact, he and Langsdorf agreed to the same near identical number.

“The high 60s is kind of the goal, to be in the top of the league,” Manning told NJ.com’s Jordan Raanan. “Sure it’s realistic. It’s a combination of the offense and the players we have.”

If Manning reaches lofty completion percentage expectation, it would not only be a vast improvement over last year, but a career high as well. In his 10 NFL seasons, Manning has never completed better than 62.9 percent of his throws. From 2008 through 2011, he completed over 60 percent. That number has dropped over the last two years, with Manning completed 59.9 in 2012, and 57.5 last year.

While Giants’ offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo didn’t call the plays in Green Bay, he worked on an offensive staff that continually had quarterback Aaron Rodgers near the tops of the league in accuracy. Rodgers has completed over 65 percent of his passes every year since 2010.

But 70 percent? That number has only been reached five times before. Drew Brees (71.2), Brees again (70.6), Ken Anderson (70.6), Steve Young (70.3) and Joe Montana (70.2) are the only signal callers in NFL history to reach that high.

At 33 years old, Can Manning do it? Fan discussion in The Corner Forum.

Jul 282014
 
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Mario Manningham, San Francisco 49ers (November 25, 2012)

Mario Manningham still isn’t 100 percent – © USA TODAY Sports Images

There was a time when Mario Manningham’s roster spot was all but guaranteed.

Back in 2008, the New York Giants drafted him in the third round. In four seasons, he displayed the ability to be a down-field threat who also had the ability to make people miss in space. When he entered free agency following New York’s Super Bowl championship in 2011, he was considered an up-and-coming No. 1 wide receiver.

Then injuries happened. And the budding super star was labeled an injury-prone has-been.

“It was frustrating,” Manningham said. “But (injuries) are part of the game.”

Now six years removed form hearing his name called on draft day, Manningham’s roster status is as up in the air as the passes he once pulled down. Despite being 28 years old, Manningham’s body looks much older than that.

After leaving the Giants, Manningham signed a two-year contract with the San Francisco 49ers. In his first year, he tore both the ACL and PCL in his left knee. Manningham was placed on injured reserve and started the 2013 season on the physically unable to perform list. He returned in November, but was once again placed on injured reserve when he wasn’t deemed physically healthy.

The 49ers elected to let Manningham walk in free agency and he found his way back to the Giants. He sat out the entire offseason conditioning program and has been ‘limited’ in training camp. Despite being two years removed form the initial injury, Manningham still doesn’t feel 100 percent.

“I know my knee is fixed, I just need confidence,” Manningham said. “It’s me sticking my foot in the ground and going. Everyday it gets better and better.”

But while Manningham works to return to the ‘Super Mario’ that once dazzled fans at MetLife Stadium, other healthy options on the roster have stepped up in the process. Marcus Harris has caught nearly every pass thrown his way. Corey Washington has impressed, too. Manningham says he’s “close,” but is it too late?

For the first time in his career, Manningham’s roster position isn’t guaranteed. And he knows it.

“It’s not easy because I know I still have to make the team,” Manningham said. “There’s no real pressure in the back of my mind whether it’s me or them. I’m gonna prepare myself like I’m going to try to make the team.”

Jul 282014
 
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Chris Snee, New York Giants (February 5, 2012)

Remembering Chris Snee – © USA TODAY Sports Images

For every Big Blue Breakdown we’ve run, I’ve enjoyed taking a part in each. Having my thoughts, opinions and analysis placed next to the best of the best in the business was an honor. With that being said, I’m sitting this one out. With this being my first season covering the team, I think it’s appropriate to hand it over to the veterans.

For the last decade, Chris Snee worked to establish himself as one of the greatest New York Giants’ linemen to ever wear the ‘NY’ logo across his helmet. He exemplified what it meant to be a New York Giant. Today, our panel breaks down their favorite Chris Snee memory from their years covering the team.

QUESTION: With Chris Snee hanging up the cleats, it closes the door on one of the better careers in Giants’ history. What’s your favorite Chris Snee moment from covering the team? What will you remember him by?

Chris Snee, New York Giants (July 21, 2014)

Chris Snee with son, Cooper, following his retirement press conference – Photo by Connor Hughes

RALPH VACCHIANO/Daily News

I’ve been trying to think of a specific memory I have of him — something fun or funny — but I can’t. And that’s not really an indictment of him, it sort of more of a tribute, when you think about it. He’s been described by his coach and so many others as a “lunchpail guy” who, for 10 years, just came to work, did his job and didn’t cause any trouble. In a lot of ways he was almost unnoticeable, which is the dream of offensive linemen. For a decade, you didn’t worry about the right guard spot in the Giants’ lineup. You didn’t question that Snee was going to be in there and play well. He wasn’t a guy we had to rush to after the game to get a quote, because he wasn’t going to put on some me-first show for the media. He wasn’t the center of attention. He was just a good member of the team.

Don’t misinterpret that either. He was as cooperative a player as I’ve dealt with in this era. If a reporter needed a few minutes of his time, he gave it. His answers were thoughtful, insightful, if not headline-worthy. He didn’t duck any question either — not his relationship with his father-in-law coach (which especially early couldn’t have been his favorite topic), not the terrible play of the offensive line in some years. A lot of fans might not realize that when the Giants are having a bad year or suffer a bad loss, there aren’t a lot of players willing to stand up and take the heat. Reporters often end up confronting a mostly empty locker room. But I almost always could count on Snee being out there after a bad game. As a matter of fact, if he ever did duck the media I’d bet it was after a win — when he didn’t want the appearance of taking any credit.

Anyway, his desire to be behind the scenes is probably why I can’t come up with a good story for you. But I do have good memories of him and he will be missed. Aside from being a good, fun, pleasant and cooperative guy to talk to, I will most remember him the way I bet he wants to be remembered: As part of a group of five guys who were the best offensive line I’ve covered in my now 20 years covering the NFL. That group — David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O’Hara, Snee and Kareem McKenzie — kind of snuck up on us. They didn’t get a lot of praise at first and there always seemed to be a lot of questions about whether the Giants needed an upgrade. They were together from 2006-10 and, despite a championship in 2007, I think it took most people until they were gone to realize how great they were. And look, I grew up in the ’80s so I know how good “The Suburbanites” were. We could debate all day which group was better. But you have to put this group in the conversation, I’d think. And Snee has to be in the conversation when talking about the best Giants offensive linemen of all time.

ART STAPLETON/The Record

Chris Snee, New York Giants (December 11, 2011)

Chris Snee – © USA TODAY Sports Images

For me it’s an easy one. 2011 NFC Championship Game in San Francisco, in the bowels of Candlestick Park about 30 minutes after Lawrence Tynes booted the Giants to Super Bowl XLVI. The visiting locker room at the Stick is, well, cramped, and you could only imagine the emotions following from a game like that. The crowd was around Eli Manning from the moment the media got in the room, and the Giants were in a rush to get on the plane and continue the party. And here was Chris Snee, suit on, his interviews over, luggage at his feet, just waiting for Manning to stop doing interviews.

“Elisha, let’s go already!” Snee said with a smile. This was before he donned that “I love Eli” t-shirt, of course, and only after that did I hear of how Snee and Manning were roommates as rookies, and that they always – ALWAYS – sat together on the bus and on planes to games.

In the biggest moment of the season, Snee could have gone out to the bus on his own. Instead, he waited for his quarterback.

I got the idea last summer to interview Snee and Manning together, and when Snee convinced Manning to do it, we sat in a lounge, the two of them on the couch jokingly sitting on top of one another like Eli and Peyton joke around as brothers in that SportsCenter commercial.

I was not on the beat when they came in, but I’m glad to have been on the beat these last few years. That day in San Francisco, I got to see the bond between two of the very best to play for the Giants in franchise history.

PATTI TRAINA/Inside Football, Sports XChange, Bleacher Report

My favorite Chris Snee moment came several years ago—I can’t remember what year it was, but I want to say it was about three years into his career.

First let me give you some background: Snee came in and initially seemed like the last thing he wanted to do was talk to anyone, reporters included. It didn’t help that his offensive line mates at the time added fuel to the fire by calling him a “grumpy old man.”

Anyway, one day I had to do a sit-down interview with Snee for a story on his charity work, which he never really spoke about (I always got the impression that Snee didn’t care to talk about himself). This was back in the old stadium so for “sit downs” we had to do them in the hallway, just outside the locker room.

So I’m standing out there waiting and Snee comes out, finishing an ice cream cone. He’s walking as though someone just told him to walk the plank of a pirate ship, and he has a scowl on his face. I’m sitting there thinking I’m in for a bumpy ride, but once he reached me, he cracked a smile, shook my hand, and gave me a wonderful interview.

When we finished, I thanked him for his time. He thanked me, said he enjoyed the chat and that I “shouldn’t be a stranger” moving forward. From that day forward, regardless of what mood he might have been in, Snee and I would chat whenever the opportunity presented itself, even if it was a quick “Hello.”

Chris Snee, New York Giants (August 22, 2012)

Chris Snee – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Post script to this story. When he was voted a team captain last year—an honor that was long overdue in my opinion–I congratulated him by saying, “Congrats, Captain Chris.”

His eyes lit up and he broke out into as big of a smile as I have ever seen from him. He told me he liked the moniker. He liked it so much, in fact, that he told a couple of his teammates whose lockers were nearby that from that point forward, he wanted to be called “Captain Chris.” (I won’t repeat what the teammates said since this is a PG-13 site.)

I don’t think the nickname ever caught on with others, but out of respect, I kept calling him that, right up to the day he retired. And each time he would smile and it was just so clear to see it made him feel good.

When he retired last week, he had to walk past a few of us to get to the podium. He was shaking the hands of reporters who were lined up on that side—I was one of them. When he got to me, I said “Thanks for being such a professional, Captain Chris.”

Boom! There was that smile again and this time, he gave me a big hug before taking the podium for what was one of the most emotional farewell pressers I have ever covered.

I’ve been on this beat since the late 1990s and one of the things I really enjoy from a human aspect is to see these guys come in as kids and leave as grown men. Those moments where you get to know the person behind the facemask are what make this job so special.

I’m very honored to have covered Chris Snee’s career and to see him go from being a quiet brawny kid out of college into a professional, a leader and above all one of the nicest men to ever don the Giants uniform.

Jul 272014
 
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New York Giants Training Camp (July 27, 2014)

New York Giants Training Camp – Photo by Connor Hughes

JULY 27, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…

For the first time this season, the New York Giants dressed in full pads following yesterday’s day off. Another first? The Giants’ offense showed signs of life.

There was Eli Manning firing long balls and connecting, while looking poised in the pocket. There was a developed pocket, time to throw and holes to run through. Victor Cruz heard his signature chant bellowed from the crowd after a sliding catch. And linebacker Devon Kennard continued to flash on defense.

Overall, you could say it was an eventful day in East Rutherford.

Below you will find our complete practice report from today’s camp.

New York Giants Wide Receivers (July 23, 2014)

Odell Beckham (13) continues to sit out - Photo by Connor Hughes

SETTING THE STAGE…
As is the case with each report, here’s a your scene setter. Xavier Grimble sat out the practice’s duration with a ‘slight’ hamstring issue. Speaking after practice, coach Tom Coughlin didn’t seem too worried. Odell Beckham Jr. was out again today aside from fielding punts and catching balls from the jugs machine. Unlike Grimble, Coughlin seems worried about Beckham. Trindon Holliday sat out the positional and team portion of practice because he “tweaked a leg” during a punt return. There were 3,552 fans in attendance and a crew of referees to keep the players on their toes.

THE WALK THROUGH…
I very rarely mention the walk-through in the training camp report, mainly because the media isn’t allowed to watch. If anything, we catch the final five minutes or so of the special teams. Either way, some eventful note-worthy action took place.

  • With the returners simply fielding the ball, it looked like Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr. had a little competition going on between them. Cruz started it by fielding a ball one handed. Beckham Jr. responded by – I kid you not – palming the ball from the jugs machine as if he was an outfielder catching a fly ball. He made this look insanely easy. He simply put his hand up, grabbed the ball over his head and pulled it in.
  • During the team stretch, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Pierre-Paul and Damontre Moore decided to race each other. Moore just beat JPP by about a step.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
The Giants opened up practice as they always do with special teams drills. Each day it’s a different starting unit that spends some time together. Some days it’s the punt team, others punt coverage. Same with kick returns and kickoff coverage.

  • Returners were as follows and in this specific order: Trindon Holliday, Rueben Randle, Odell Beckham Jr. and Victor Cruz. Preston Parker and David Wilson also fielded punts.
  • Starting gunners are no change from organized team activities. Zack Bowman is on the right and Bennett Jackson on the left. Second unit featured Charles James II on the right and Ross Weaver on the left.
  • On a punt return, Jerrel Jernigan – who had a very, very nice practice – made quite a few people miss.
  • Kendall Gaskins and Cooper Taylor got into a pushing match on a return. Gaskins blocked Taylor to the ground, Taylor didn’t like that and came up with a few shoves.
  • It was Josh Brown’s day to kick field goals. He went 3-of-4. If you’re keeping score at home, that’s 6/8 for Brown and 8/8 for Brandon McManus.

INDIVIDUALS…
I stuck with the offense today. I will turn my attention to defense tomorrow. The ‘O’ ran a few different variations of drills we hadn’t seen in camp yet. It started with the quarterbacks, running backs and fullbacks working through drills. The wide receivers and tight ends then joined the group for a full offense (minus line) drill.

New York Giants Training Camp (July 27, 2014)

New York Giants Training Camp – Photo by Connor Hughes

  • It looks like the fullback position may be Henry Hynoski’s to lose. He was the first man on the field today.
  • A couple times during the QB/RB/FB drill we saw a shotgun draw to the fullback. Both Hynoski and John Conner got reps here.
  • Andre Williams made a very nice catch out of the backfield on a swing pass. Ryan Nassib – which is becoming a regular occurrence – threw one low on a swing route. Williams reached down and pulled in a shoe-string catch. The impressive part was Williams didn’t lose his balance.
  • When the offense came together, it looked like Andre Williams got himself confused a bit and didn’t know what to do. Just before the snap, Williams motioned to a coach who came over and moved his hands in a motion that looked to be outlining a route. Williams shook his head once he was reminded and the play went on.
  • Interesting formation displayed: With three wide receivers and a tight end already lined up, Ryan Nassib motioned David Wilson into the slot. Wilson then ran a quick out. It looks like Ben McAdoo is thinking of ways to get Wilson the ball in space.

TWO MINUTE DRILL…
While every reporter in attendance generally has a difference in opinion at some point in time, it seems like everyone agreed on one thing: The Giants’ offense had its best practice of camp. When the starters were in, the Giants moved up and down the field in the no-huddle offense. It was impressive to see, and for the first time, displayed what Ben McAdoo’s offense is capable of when everyone is clicking.

  • Victor Cruz heard his named chanted by the home crowd when he made a diving grab. It looked like he came from the complete other side of the field and Eli Manning hit him with a pass in between two defenders. It was a bit out in front so Cruz dove and hauled it in before stepping out. Cruz made another grab when he freed himself with a double move to get by Antrel Rolle and I believe Walter Thurmond III. We’ll get to it later, but Thurmond didn’t have the best practice.
  • As much criticism as Nassib takes, the one thing he does do well is extend plays. He’s deceptively mobile and is pretty good at throwing on the run. With that being said, he did not have a very good practice again. Passes were bounced or thrown high, and that was before the defense joined the offense. He gives up on plays and gets flustered in the pocket pretty quickly.
  • Marcus Harris continues to have a very, very nice training camp. The second-year wideout catches everything thrown his way and today hauled in a 20-yard touchdown from Nassib on a double move.
  • After Harris’ touchdown, Eli Manning came in for Nassib and proceeded to find Jerrel Jernigan for a touchdown on an in-route. Jernigan had his best practice of the camp, coming down with a second touchdown in one-on-one’s later in the afternoon.
  • On the goal line, Rashad Jennings took it in from five-ish yards out. He ran through a gaping hole between Brandon Mosley and Justin Pugh.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ONE-ON-ONE’S…
With how much money the Giants invested in the cornerback position this offseason, the one-on-one drill may be the most interesting of camp. The concept is simply this: Get open.

  • Friday, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie talked about how he sometimes ‘baits’ quarterbacks into throwing his way. He’ll play a step or two off a wide receiver so the quarterback throws the ball; he then breaks on it and makes a play. We saw that in the one-on-one’s. Rodgers-Cromartie played two steps off of Rueben Randle, Manning threw the ball and Rodgers-Cromartie hit a second gear to bat the ball away, nearly intercepting it.
  • Jerrel Jernigan’s fine practice continued when he beat Walter Thurmond for a touchdown on a streak. Ryan Nassib threw a nice ball to the back corner of the endzone and Jernigan outran Thurmond to it.
  • Preston Parker jumped in the air and pulled in a toe-tapping sideline catch. He beat Ross Weaver.
  • Corey Washington beat Jayron Hosley off of the line, then beat him again coming back to the ball on the curl and made the catch. Knowing he was beat, Hosley held on as Washington was coming back to the ball. Washington still made the catch and the ref threw a flag. The penalty was the second on Hosley today.
  • Charles James II intercepted Ryan Nassib when Marcus Harris fell down. The offense was looking for a flag, saying James pushed Harris, but none was thrown.

Side note…While this was happening, the offensive line, backs, linebackers and defensive line were having a full-contact running drill. From what I gathered from BBI friends Conor Orr and Art Stapleton, the highlight of practice took place:

SEVEN-ON-SEVEN’S…
There wasn’t too much going on of note in the seven-on-seven portion of practice. Either way, a few highlight are worthy of mention:

  • Eli Manning had his choice of two wide receivers, both of whom ran streaks. Marcus Harris beat Walter Thurmond and Preston Parker beat Prince Amukamara. Manning went to Parker down the sideline. Manning came back later to Harris who once again beat Thurmond. Again, Harris continues to shine.
  • Devon Kennard got beat badly by Daniel Fells down the seam.
  • Dan Fox jumped up high in the air from his zone coverage position to bat down a pass intended for Julian Talley. Fox has been working a lot with the No. 2 linebacking unit. He’s flashed a few times and if he doesn’t make the Giants’ final 53, expect him to be a prime candidate for the practice squad.

ELEVEN-ON-ELEVEN…
Practice ended the same as it always does with a full-team, full-contact 11-on-11. Here are the highlights:

  • I saw a different formation from the defensive line. Jason Pierre-Paul lined up as a defensive tackle, Cullen Jenkins moved to defensive end and Devon Kennard put his hand in the dirt as an end.
  • Mario Manningham beat Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on a comeback route, but dropped a perfectly thrown ball form Eli Manning. Manningham rebounded later in practice with a really nice run slant route.
  • Back shoulder completion from Ryan Nassib to Kellen Davis who beat Nat Berhe. Nassib makes some very, very nice passes at times, but they’re overshadowed by terribly inaccurate ones.
  • Another Devon Kennard sighting. This time he had a would-be sack on Nassib when the quarterback tried to roll out.
  • New York Giants Training Camp (July 27, 2014)

    A full crowd was on hand to watch the Giants first practice in pads – Photo by Connor Hughes

    Little interesting note, J.D. Walton fist-bumps each of his offensive lineman before each huddle. Looks like the group is trying to build some chemistry. It’s something so small, but seems pretty cool.

  • Adrien Robinson dropped one in the flat. He did come back and make a sliding catch later in practice.
  • First long-bomb of practice. Eli Manning let one fly to Rueben Randle who got past Rodgers-Cromartie up the right sideline. No catching up this time from DRC.
  • There were three big hits to break down, depending on how you look at it. The first came on a run play when Devon Kennard came up and met Henry Hynoski head-on in the backfield. Did Kennard make the tackle? No. But he ate up Hynoski in the backfield allowing a fellow linebacker (I believe McClain) to come up and make the tackle. The way I view that? A win for Kennard.  John Conner had his own big block when he took on Justin Anderson. Both fullbacks looked good today.
  • Andre Williams had one of the more interesting runs I’ve seen all camp. It started when he knocked/ran over Johnathan Hankins, but then as he got three yards down the field he was lit up by Markus Kuhn. The funny thing, Kuhn didn’t help Williams up. He simply walked back to the defensive huddle.

The Giants will once again hold another full-pad practice open to the public on Monday. Players will talk to the media from 11:15am-12:15pm and practice from 1:20-3:30pm. Miss anything from today’s practice? Recap it all with our LIVE blog

Jul 272014
 
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Marcus Harris, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Marcus Harris has been impressive at Giants’ camp – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It’s a scenario that played out over and over again during New York’s first organized team activity. One of the Giants’ quarterbacks would drop back, scan the field and fire a pass to an intended wide receiver.

Over and over again, that receiver was No. 18. Instantaneously, media would break out the roster and check twice before putting a name to a numeral.

During mini-camp and now training camp, that same No. 18 continues to flash, making reception after reception. If it hits his hands, it’s a catch. The way Marcus Harris sees it, that’s exactly how it has to be.

“Every opportunity I get, I’m just trying to capitalize,” Harris said. “I know I’m not Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle or Odell (Beckham Jr.). I’m just trying to be a spark for the team.”

And he continues to do just that.

While offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo continues the installation of his new West Coast Offense, the Giants continue their growing pains learning their first new offense in seven years. While at times what’s displayed on the field is difficult to watch, Harris has been a consistent bright spot.

There have been no drops. When Harris runs a route, he’s usually open. Despite this being just his second season of professional football, he feels he has a firm grasp on the playbook. After all, it’s similar to the offense he ran his senior year at Murray State.

Eli Manning has connected with the 24-year-old countless times, as has Ryan Nassib. But it’s the one player that will most likely never throw him a pass that Harris says is the biggest connection he’s made thus far.

Victor Cruz, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Victor Cruz made the Giants’ roster as an undrafted rookie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

When the undrafted Harris showed up to Giants’ training camp last year, formerly undrafted Victor Cruz was the first to reach out. The Giants’ Pro-Bowl receiver told Harris to keep working, make plays when the opportunity is there and to do whatever it takes. Harris has followed the advice to a T.

“I felt so relaxed around him and latched on to him,” Harris said. “I look up to him as a role model with what he went through. Being undrafted, it’s tough. It’s not easy and it’s not going to be. I look up to how he fought and how he didn’t care he went undrafted.”

On the practice field, Harris is having a very Cruz-like impact on the Giants, something he credits to his time spent in the Arena Football League. After failing to make the Giants 53-man roster at the end of last year’s camp, Harris signed with the Iowa Barnstormers.

‘Soups,’ a nickname given to Harris by Philadelphia Eagles’ receiver Jeremy Maclin, finished the year with 94 receptions for 1,223 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also had 1,200 return yards. Going from the NFL, to the AFL, back to the NFL made the game slow down for Harris. Not only that, but he picked up a few tips and tricks along the way.

“Leverage, always attack the defensive back’s leverage,” Harris said. “I learned that in the AFL and I use it all the time here. Even though it’s the AFL and that’s a different kind of football, you can still translate it back to the NFL.

“I know if it’s a post route, I attack the inside leverage. If it’s a corner route, I attack the outside leverage. It kinda helped me out big time when I came back to the NFL.”

Harris knows that he, similar to Victor Cruz in 2010, faces a steep climb if he hopes to make the Giants’ roster. Cruz had a three-touchdown nationally televised preseason performance to help his cause. Harris’ first prime-time showing will be this Sunday’s Hall of Fame game.

There’s also the numbers game. Cruz, Randle, Beckham Jr. and Jerrel Jernigan are all but locks to make the Giants’ roster. Harris, Super Bowl-hero Mario Manningham, Trindon Holiday and Corey Washington are all competing for two spots.

If Harris is cut and clears waivers, he’s still eligible for the Giants’ practice squad, but that’s not good enough anymore.

“I was on the practice squad last year,” Harris said. “I don’t plan on being on it this year.”

Jul 272014
 
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Damontre Moore, New York Giants (August 10, 2013)

Damontre Moore has been impressive in year two – © USA TODAY Sports Images

His facial expression never changed from that same firm, determined look. His voice never once reached an octave above monotone.

Cullen Jenkins stood there, atop the Giants’ podium, camcorders and cameras staring back at him. Each media member threw question after question his way.

Nothing changed Jenkins’ tone or expression. Then, Damontre Moore’s name was brought up.

“To be honest, I’ve been surprised. Especially with Damontre,” Jenkins said. “His athleticism is hard to compare. From where he was last year, technique wise and some of the things he was doing, to how he came back in training camp… it’s amazing.”

The praise was just the beginning as the veteran continued to highlight the differences between rookie Moore and second-year Damontre. The one that was once considered a one-trick pony is suddenly much more.

Moore is setting the edge, making as many plays on the running back as he is the quarterback and his physicality has reached another level.

“You look at him now,” Jenkins said, “He’s a completely different player.”

Damontre Moore, New York Giants (December 1, 2013)

Damontre Moore – © USA TODAY Sports Images

What Moore has worked to develop over the offseason is being displayed to all on the Giants’ practice fields. In the team’s five practices, the former third-round pick has a ‘sack’ in four. When the Giants put on shoulder pads for the first time on Friday, Moore recorded two sacks on offensive tackle James Brewer. He had countless other pressures.

“I feel a little more comfortable out there, but as far as different? No, not really.” Moore said last week, “I’m just being the best I can be.”

Defensive line coach Robert Nunn has seen the same thing as Jenkins. This isn’t the same Damontre Moore. Nunn said the end has taken a “step forward” in year two. The Giants hope he’s right.

Mathias Kiwanuka is now 31 and has had never had more than eight sacks in a season. Last year, Kiwanuka was held sackless in four of the Giants final five games. If called upon, Moore is making sure he’s ready. That includes taking a page out of Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders playbook.

Moore is sporting a brand new facemask, one he assures meets league regulations. Is it protective? Sure. But it also looks good.

“I guess it fits into that old saying,” Moore said laughing. “You look good, you feel good, you play good.”

Thus far, Moore’s 3-for-3.