Aug 142014
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 14, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The New York Giants took the practice fields at Quest Diagnostics Training Center for the final time in this year’s 2014 training camp.

But they’ll be back on Monday do everything the same. The only difference? It’s now closed to the public.

Thursday’s practice was a light one for the Giants as tomorrow the team will travel to Indianapolis for its game versus the Colts. There were some cards, mostly one-on-one drills and a two-minute portion as well with the second team offense.

On to the report…

Peyton Hillis, New York Giants (December 1, 2013)

Peyton Hillis – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE WALKING WOUNDED…
Peyton Hillis (ankle/foot), Xavier Grimble (hamstring), Daniel Fells (knee) and Trindon Holliday (hamstring) all missed practice. Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) continues to do more as he works his way back from a hamstring injury. Mike Patterson (shoulder) was back, too, and John Conner (concussion) did individuals.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
The Giants practiced their kickoff and kick return today. With this particular drill, I tried to focus on the exact order of both the returners and their up-man. When I say up-man, I mean the player that lines up directly in front of the kick returners and acts as a lead blocker. It’s organized below as follows : Returner/Up-man.

  • The rotation worked as follows: Quintin Demps/Marcus Harris, Preston Parker/Michael Cox, Michael Cox/Marcus Harris, and Marcus Harris/Andre Williams.
  • It was Brandon McManus’ day to kick and kick he did. Aside from going 4-for-4, McManus’ final kick was a beauty from at least 60 yards. He cleared the cross bars by at least 10 yards.

INDIVIDUALS…
There isn’t too much that you can take out of these lighter practices as it’s basically a glorified walk through. There’s little contact, the overall length is shorter and there’s not much to break down. Most of the observations are just that, observations.

  • It truly is time to sound the alarms with Ryan Nassib. Again today Curtis Painter was with the second team and Tom Coughlin sounded after practice like that’s where it’ll stay. It’s a telltale sign of how Nassib has played this summer.
  • Will Beatty was out there in all drills for the Giants which goes hand-in-hand with the fact he’ll start on Saturday.
  • Kellen Davis has been getting a lot of looks at tight end. He and Larry Donnell were working with the first team quite a bit. Again, the Giants are running a lot of multiple tight end sets.
Adrien Robinson, New York Giants (July 27, 2013)

Adrien Robinson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
The Giants ran through a bit of a hurry-up/two-minute drill as they usually do to start practice. Not much happened as the offense continues to look stagnant. It’s honestly frustrating at times to try to pick a positive out of something where there is so little. The entire training camp can be summed up in five words: The offense doesn’t look good. Simply put, the team doesn’t have enough playmakers on the field.

  • For the entire first drill with the entire first team, Adrien Robinson was out there at tight end. The Giants even moved him split wide at one point. Andre Williams was also out there as a running back.
  • Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz down the seam on a double move. Cruz shook free Walter Thurmond III and made the grab.
  • Zack Bowman had a nice bat down on a pass to Kellen Davis. Davis was open on a curl, the ball was delivered and Bowman just punched it out.
  • Something that certainly won’t make Giants’ fans happy: a big miscommunication between Rueben Randle and Manning. Manning dropped back to pass, Randle ran a streak, Manning threw a curl and Bowman undercut the route for a pick-six. All jokes aside, it was identical to the interception Bowman had against the Giants last year. Same side of the field, too.
  • Charles James II nearly intercepted Ryan Nassib. James had good coverage and undercut a throw intended for Julian Talley.
  • You may need to re-read this once, but Eli Manning ran for a touchdown. Manning pump-faked to open up a huge crease in the middle of the field. He then jogged into the endzone.
Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (May 22, 2013)

Ryan Nassib – © USA TODAY Sports Images

ELEVEN-ON-ELEVEN/CARD DRILL…
This was a little bit of both the card drill and eleven-on-eleven. Explaining the card drill for those that don’t know: The offense holds up a card with a play, the defense holds up a card with a play and then both go and run said plays at 3/4 speed.

  • Eli Manning looked for Marcus Harris on an out route but Cooper Taylor had really good coverage. Near interception for the second-year safety.
  • For the second practice in a row, Ryan Nassib dropped a shot gun snap. Snap was good, no pressure, Nassib just dropped it.
  • In a weird formation, the Giants split fullback Henry Hynoski out wide left as a receiver. Hynoski was the lone player to that side of the field. First time I’ve seen that all camp.
  • Touchdown pass from Nassib to Jerome Cunningham on a flag route in the red zone.
  • There was one interception today, but a few were dropped. Damontre Moore nearly had one as he lept in the air on a low pass from Manning. He had both of his hands on it but dropped the ball.
  • It wasn’t pretty, but Odell Beckham Jr. came down with a tipped pass for a touchdown in the red zone. Nassib was the quarterback as the ball bounced off a few defenders hands before making its way to Beckham.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
The Giants have ended practice like this a few times this week. Every day, a different team takes its turn and today it was the second teamers. The ball is set up at one end of the field and two minutes are put on the clock. The offense then has to march down the field against the defense and score. With Curtis Painter at quarterback, the Giants offense scored a touchdown on the final play. Painter threw a perfect pass to Preston Parker past a diving defender. Parker then walked into the end zone.

The Giants will be off on Friday as they travel to Indianapolis. The next scheduled practice is Monday, Aug. 18.

Aug 142014
 
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Israel Idonije, Chicago Bears (September 13, 2012)

Israel Idonije – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It would have been easy for Israel Idonije to walk away.

He was coming off year No. 11 in the National Football League, one that was filled with injuries that hampered his play. He’d accomplished everything he set out to do over a decade ago.

Well, just about everything. He hadn’t won a Super Bowl.

“ When I first came into the league, I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish,” Idonije said. “On that list, I still have to win a Super Bowl. “

And the Giants hope they can help him make that last check.

After 10 seasons with the Chicago Bears, the 33-year-old signed with the Detroit Lions last year. While he expected to make an impact on a defense that already featured the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ezekiel Ansah, those plans never quite materialized.

Idonije suffered a hamstring injury in training camp, attempted to work his way back after six days and was never the same. The ensuing season was one Idonije admitted was his toughest of his 12-year career. He recorded just a half of a sack and 11 total tackles. This performance coming off three straight seasons where he averaged nearly seven quarterback takedowns.

He contemplated walking away, but just couldn’t. Had he suffered a knee injury, neck injury or anything serious, the decision to retire would have been made and no regrets would dare cross his mind. A hamstring strain? That was different. Idonije knew he could still play.

When Idonije began his pro career with the Bears, he used to take the field and run around, letting his natural athletic ability take over a game. That mentality has changed as he’s gotten olden. Now, Idonije has a “tool kit.”

When lining up across an offensive tackle, Idonije will read everything from his body language, to his stance. Depending on what he sees, he uses a different technique. All of which are stored in his “tool kit.”

“You just need to show up to work and know what you do well,” Idonije said. “I didn’t do that when I was younger.”

The moment Idonije put pen-to-paper on his contract with the Giants, he became the eldest statesman of an otherwise youthful meeting room. Cullen Jenkins, Mathias Kiwanuka and Mike Patterson are the only defensive linemen that are 30-years-old or older.

Others in the meeting room hope to emulate Idonije’s professional longevity. Already, several have started picking his mind and watching the way Idonije works.

“You’re never too old to stop learning,” Giants 21-year-old defensive end Damontre Moore said. “He’s constantly learning something and always asking questions. He’s letting everyone know that you can always be taught something and always learn a new technique.”

There’s no guarantee Idonije will be on the Giants 53-man roster when the team travels to Detroit to kickoff the season. He knows that, but he also knows the value he holds to a team.

Idonije can rush the passer and play the run on defense. He’s also capable of playing every special teams package. He also knows he can still do what he used to do so frequently in Chicago.

“I can still make plays, no question,” Idonije said. “Especially in a system like this.”

Aug 142014
 
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Will Beatty, New York Giants (November 10, 2013)

Will Beatty – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Throughout the New York Giants training camp, offensive tackle Will Beatty has done just about everything one can expect.

He’s attended every meeting, been a full participant in all individual drills and with the starters during team drills. By just about every count, he’s shown little side effects from a fractured leg suffered during the last game of the 2013 season.

In fact, the only thing Beatty hasn’t done is play in either of the Giants first two preseason games. And that’s about to change.

This coming Saturday when the Giants travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts, it looks like Beatty will see his first game action of the season.

“I’ve been looking forward to this moment,” Beatty said. “I’m blessed to be in this position. The coaches feel I have proved myself in practice enough to allow me to play in this preseason game and to travel with them.

“I am traveling. So traveling means I will have a chance and an opportunity to be out there on the filed. I’m looking forward to it.”

And so are the Giants.

In Beatty’s absence, former New Orleans Saints second-round pick Charles Brown has been filling in. Despite being highly coveted out of USC just four years ago, Brown has struggled in the NFL. During the Giants training camp, that hasn’t changed.

Defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Damontre Moore have had extreme success versus Brown during the team-oriented portions of practice. Versus the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Giants preseason home opener on Saturday, Brown was beaten for a sack by Jarvis Jones. A few series later, Brown allowed a pressure off the edge which caused quarterback Ryan Nassib to rush a throw.

A healthy Will Beatty will be welcomed back with open arms by quarterback Eli Manning, coach Tom Coughlin and others within the organization. That’s a ‘healthy’ Will Beatty.

The 29-year-old, who signed a five-year contract worth $38.75 million last offseason, admits his injured right leg is not the same as it was before it was fractured, but it’s getting there. There’s no chance of him being re-injuring it, it’s completely healed. Beatty just needs to get more comfortable.

But there won’t be much of an acclimation period. This Saturday, he’ll be facing off against Colts defensive end Robert Mathis. Last season, Mathis recorded 19.5 sacks, went to the Pro Bowl for the sixth time and earned his first All-Pro honors.

“I know he’s going to look at it as a regular season game each snap he gets,” Beatty said. “This is my marker for how well I’ve trained during the offseason to recover and get back to top shape.”

Aug 132014
 
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Curtis Painter, Ben McAdoo, and Eli Manning; New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Curtis Painter, Ben McAdoo, and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 13, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The Giants held a practice that ended abruptly as today was a recovery stretch day. In this year’s training camp, the Giants have about once a week a practice that runs a little over an hour. After the hour is up, the team moves inside the Quest Diagnostics Training Center for a 30-minute stretch.

The Giants have devices on the back of each player’s jersey that monitors each step they take. That information is then read by doctors who can determine if the players are in need of a day off, or, in this case, a recovery stretch day.

The Giants ran some special teams drills, one-on-ones, 11-on-11 and a red zone drill before jogging inside to the air conditioned practice fields. Players then removed their shoulder pads and shoes and stretched.

On to the report…

Xavier Grimble, USC Trojans (September 21, 2013)

Xavier Grimble – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE WALKING WOUNDED…
The same players are still out: Xavier Grimble (hamstring), Peyton Hillis (ankle/foot), Trindon Holliday (hamstring) and Daniel Fells (knee). Zack Bowman (knee) joined the group on the bikes. John Conner (concussion), Mike Patterson (shoulder) and Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) were both limited. John Sullen sat out with an undisclosed injury.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
Punt and punt return’s day at practice today. Some new faces got some opportunities to run punts back.

  • Punt returners were as follows: Preston Parker, Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham Jr. and Rueben Randle. No Charles James II in the group, despite working with coordinator Tom Quinn on his punt catching after yesterday’s practice.
  • The order, by the way, of punt returners was Parker-Beckham Jr.-Randle-Cruz.
  • It was Josh Brown’s day to kick after Brandon McManus went 2-of-4 yesterday. Brown went 3-of-4 today. His one miss was a bad one sailing wide left.
Jay Bromley, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Jay Bromley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

INDIVIDUALS…
There were a few interesting/new drills run during the individual portion of practice. The Giants were on the side field, so the only observations that were able to be made here were in reference to the defense. The Giants practiced an awful lot of fade-route defense.

  • Jay Bromley has been playing some good football during the preseason and looks to have been rewarded for it. During practice, Bromley was lining up with the second unit next to Markus Kuhn. That may change when – if ever - Mike Patterson gets healthy.
  • Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie got a chance to play a little receiver while his teammates worked as defensive backs. With Perry Fewell at quarterback, Rodgers-Cromartie made a few impressive grabs. His best was a slant in which he extended his hands to make the grab, then kept the ball away from his body so Trumaine McBride couldn’t knock it out. It was nice, very nice.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
The Giants quarterbacks may have had their worst practice to date today. Zero big plays, zero excitement. In fact, they started the first three team portions of practice a combined 1-of-10. Yes, in practice, the Giants managed one completion in 10 attempts. It didn’t exactly get off to a hot start, either, as the pick-birds were out in full force in the two-minute drill.

  • Curtis Painter was the Giants No. 2 quarterback again, but threw interceptions on his first two pass attempts. The first came from Chandler Fenner and the second Mark Herzlich. After the second, Manning came back onto the field. Curtis Football (the nickname given to him by a twitter follower) may see his time as the Giants’ No. 2 coming to an end.
  • Jerrel Jernigan returned and was running with the starters, relegating Marcus Harris and Corey Washington to the second- and third-team respectively.
  • Really, really nice pass defense by Walter Thurmond on a drag route intended for Victor Cruz. Manning threw it to Cruz and Thurmond reached in front to bat it down.

ONE-ON-ONE…
It was pretty cool to watch the Giants’ receivers and defensive backs go one-on-one in a goal line drill. The ball was placed inside the five yard line and the receiver had to get past the defender in order to score. Some fades were thrown, some slants were thrown. It was fun to watch the athletes compete.

  • Rueben Randle made a very impressive catch over the top of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on a fade route.
  • It may be a trip back down to earth for Corey Washington as the receiver didn’t look great in practice today. Washington dropped two passes in this drill that should have been touchdowns.

ELEVEN-ON-ELEVEN…
Truly, it was an uneventful offensive day for the third time this week. It’s just been very…blah. Maybe it’s the fact this was a light practice, but things didn’t improve in the 11-on-11 drill.

  • Damontre Moore continues to make a push for time against the starters. On one play versus the twos, Moore was double teamed by both Charles Brown and Weston Richburg. The result? He bull rushed both of them into the face of Curtis Painter, causing the quarterback to rush a throw.
  • Nice toe-tapping grab from Preston Parker on the sideline on a pass from Painter. Looked like a corner route and the receiver went up and got it.
  • On an out route, Corey Washington dropped an easy one. The rookie didn’t have his best practice today. Then again, no one did.
Odell Beckham (13) and Zack Bowman (31), New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Odell Beckham and Zack Bowman – © USA TODAY Sports Images

RED ZONE DRILL…
After the Giants ran through one series of 11-on-11, the team switched sides of the field and went into a red–err, I mean green zone. There was one notable play that stood out for a big, big reason.

  • Odell Beckham Jr. caught his first touchdown pass of training camp. On a slant on the first play of the green zone drill, Beckham hauled in one from Painter while being guarded by Trumaine McBride. He was in the second play as well, but the ball wasn’t thrown his direction.
  • I don’t think anyone wants to be Eli Manning’s backup. Seriously. With Curtis Painter looking as bad as he was, Ryan Nassib looked no better. On a perfect snap, Nassib just dropped the ball in the shot gun formation. He scrambled to grab it before throwing it away. He would have been sacked on the play.
  • Devon Kennard got a real nice piece of Andre Williams, knocking his fellow rookie to the ground. Williams then popped back up and ran into the endzone.

The last training camp practice will be  held on Thursday from 1:20-3:30pm.

Aug 132014
 
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Mario Manningham, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Mario Manningham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It’s the catch that he’ll never forget, but doesn’t want to remember.

New York Giants receiver Mario Manningham split wide left on a first-and-10 with the Giants trailing the New England Patriots, 17-15, in Super Bowl XLVI. Quarterback Eli Manning dropped back, planted his back foot, took a crow hop and let the ball fly in Manningham’s direction.

As the ball hung in the air, Manningham slowly pulled away from his defender, reached up, made the catch and kept both feet in bounds while absorbing a hit.

The highlight reel grab is one that will live on in Super Bowl glory for as long as the game is played. In Manningham’s mind? He’s tried to forget “The Catch” the moment he pointed down the field to signal a first down.

“I remember it,” Manningham said, “but I don’t think about it. I’m just trying to make some more plays.”

In order to make more, Manningham will have to earn a spot on the Giants 53-man roster. After two dismal and injury-filled seasons in San Francisco, Manningham made his way back to New York this offseason and into a crowded receivers’ room.

There are roster locks Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jerrel Jernigan. Then, there’s Manningham, rookie Corey Washington, Marcus Harris, Trindon Holliday and others all vying for one, potentially two, spots. For the first time in his career, Manningham isn’t a lock to make a team.

While there have been glimpses at Giants training camp of the old “Super Mario” who once dazzled fans and eluded defenders at MetLife Stadium, the flashes have been few and far between. Far more often is Manningham dropping passes than catching them. He admits his surgically repaired knee isn’t 100 percent, but it is “getting better” each and every day. Two weeks ago, Manningham said he wasn’t entirely comfortable cutting or planting. Now, that’s not the case.

“I’m comfortable,” Manningham said. “I’m real confident in sticking my foot in the ground and going out there and just not thinking about it.”

Presently, Manningham finds himself behind Marcus Harris and Corey Washington on the team’s depth chart. Harris has caught nearly everything throw his way in training camp. Corey Washington has caught the game-winning touchdown in each of New York’s first two preseason games.

Manningham? He’s dropped six passes in his last two practices and has just one reception on three targets for 17 yards in two preseason games.

But none of that’s on the 28-year-old’s mind. Right now, he’s just determined to make plays, something he used to do on a regular basis in New York.

In 2010 and 2011, Manningham’s final two season with the Giants, he caught 99 passes for 1,467 yards and 13 touchdowns. Manningham left New York for San Francisco as a free agent following his Super Bowl catch. Before tearing his ACL and PCL with the 49ers in 2012, Manningham caught 41 passes for 449 yards in nine games started.

Can Manningham return to that receiver? Or have injures taken away a career that once seamed on a path to super stardom? Manningham believes he’s still a player and he knows he needs to do just one thing to convince others.

“Just ball, just go play ball,” Manningham said. “Don’t worry about anything else.”

That means not his place on the depth chart, not his surgically repaired knee and most certainly not his famous catch.

Aug 132014
 
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Rashad Jennings, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Rashad Jennings – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 20 – Pittsburgh Steelers 16

REVISITING: FOUR DOWNS
During our game preview, we listed a new segment, ‘Four Downs,’ which took a look at the top four questions surrounding the Giants heading into the game. Now that the game has been played and the film reviewed, it’s time to break it down.

First Down
Who’s the Giants’ No. 2 running back?
Following the Giants matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, this question simply got murkier as each back provides a “pick your poison” approach. Andre Williams is the team’s best option as a ‘running’ back, but can’t catch out of the backfield or block (this was very evident). The coaches seem to trust Kendall Gaskins more than Michael Cox, but Gaskins isn’t a dynamic runner and has been inconsistent in pass protection.

Second Down
Can Charles James II handle punt return duties?
Charles James has been spending some extra time with special teams coordinator Tom Quinn after muffing the punt versus the Steelers, but the job most likely isn’t his. He should get some more reps with Odell Beckham Jr. still nursing the hamstring injury, but we’ll see.

Third Down
Will the first-team offensive line and tight end be able to generate running room for Rashad Jennings?
On one play, yes. On most others, no. Various factors contributed to a lack of running room. There wasn’t one specific thing the Giants did wrong, just different things on different plays.

Fourth Down
Can the first-team defensive line generate a pass rush?
Finally, Jason Pierre-Paul made an appearance getting after Bruce Gradkowski. It was tough to gauge the quality of the pass rush simply because the Steelers starting offense wasn’t on the field long, but there was definitely promise shown.

Victor Cruz, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

OFFENSIVE OVERVIEW - by Connor Hughes

After watching the game initially, I don’t think many felt as negatively about the offense as I did. After watching the film, it still didn’t improve my overall perception much, but there were some positives.

Curtis Painter looked very, very good. The offensive line showed some signs of improvement and Larry Donnell impressed me with his blocking. All that and more below.

QUARTERBACKS - by Connor Hughes

There’s only so much dissecting one can do on a quarterback that throws two passes. It’s tough, very tough, but I do want to take some of the blame off Eli Manning for both of the incompletions. On the first, it appears as if Rashad Jennings missed a block. The running back looked like he was expecting a blitz up the middle, except the blitz came off the outside. Manning then had to rush a pass and it didn’t look like Jerrel Jernigan was ready for it.

On his second incompletion, another intended for Jernigan on a roll out, I love the call. Manning rolled out of the pocket and it was supposed to be a bang-bang play. Give credit to the defense, they simply covered it perfectly and Manning made the right call throwing it away.

The most alarming thing I believe I found when watching Ryan Nassib play was the fact he – like many young quarterbacks – loves to stare down his intended receiver. Once, it cost him badly. On the incomplete wheel route he threw to Marcus Harris, had he just looked directly in front of him he would have seen a wide open Julian Talley running at the first down marker on a drag. Talley was going to pick up the first down…he just missed him and forced the ball instead. It’s things like this Nassib can’t do. He foregoes the easy ones, electing to force passes into tight windows instead.

The biggest difference between Curtis Painter and Nassib? Painter can make several reads. While Nassib tends to stare down his target, Painter doesn’t. Several times he went through a few reads. Also, of all of the quarterbacks, he seemed to have the best grasp of the playbook. As bad as Painter has looked at times in his career, he looked pretty good Saturday night.

Andre Williams, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

RUNNING BACKS - by Connor Hughes

Andre Williams may be the best ‘running’ back the Giants have on their roster right now. The issue is that Williams can’t do it at this point in time. The back was a huge liability as a blocker, whiffing twice, and has yet to show he can catch the ball consistently. I have a hard time believing he’ll see extensive playing time during the season unless he can iron out both of those issues.

Michael Cox continues to impress me with the little things he’s doing. There were two times where he gave Curtis Painter a few extra seconds with a chip block and cut, then made an impressive grab on a screen pass to pick up a first down.

WIDE RECEIVERS - by Connor Hughes

A lot has been made of the fact Victor Cruz has gone catchless in the team’s first two preseason games. I wanted to see if there was ever a time when the receiver should have gotten the ball and the answer was simple: Yes. On the very first pass of the game, an incompletion to Jerrel Jernigan, Cruz was open on a curl on the other side of the field. The issue was the fact Rashad Jennings missed a block that made Eli Manning rush a throw. Similar to Cruz, there were a few plays where Marcus Harris was open, too. The issue was the fact Nassib never made his read over to Harris’ side.

Corey Washington got a lot of attention on his game-winning touchdown pass, but the more I watch the film, the more I realize it was an absolutely perfect pass from Curtis Painter. Sure, Washington fought off a defender, but the ball was placed right in his outstretched hands.

TIGHT ENDS - by Connor Hughes

Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Larry Donnell quietly had a very, very good game run blocking. There was one mishap, where he had two guys in front of him on a cutback and didn’t block either, but there were several seals, too. He did a good job getting in front of the defender and setting up a running back seal. Donnell has all the potential, just need to build consistency.

The more I watch Adrien Robinson, the more I truly believe he won’t be on this team’s final 53-man roster. He’s the last tight end on the field and very rarely flashes. He made a few nice blocks against the third team Steelers defensive line, but shouldn’t that be expected? Not to mention, that drop on an out-route cannot happen. The Giants don’t have faith in Robinson and he has done nothing to give it to them.

When the Giants travel to Detroit to kickoff the season versus the Lions, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kellen Davis is the team’s No. 2 tight end. From watching the film he reminds me of one of those guys that does everything well, just not one thing great. He has some good hands, runs good routes and can block.

OFFENSIVE LINE - by Connor Hughes

One player jumped out to me more than any other when reviewing the film: John Jerry. The offensive guard was solid pass blocking, made a few huge blocks in the run and showed some good speed getting to the second level. On one particular play, he began blocking with center Weston Richburg, then pulled off and got to the second level to block a middle linebacker.

There were a few mess ups, but Brandon Mosley had a good game, too. He showed power, made a huge block on the long Rashad Jennings touchdown.

Geoff Schwartz made a great cut block and a few other power seals which was impressive considering he’d been dealing with a knee issue. J.D. Walton made a couple nice blocks, also. The offensive line appears to be coming together pretty well. Charles Brown had issues at left tackle, giving up one sack and another big pressure.

DEFENSIVE OVERVIEW - by Eric Kennedy

Four defensive players did not play, including DT Mike Patterson (shoulder), DT Kelcy Quarles (ankle), LB Jon Beason (foot), and CB Trumaine McBride (hip).

Not counting the two plays run right before the half, the Steelers had 11 legitimate offensive possessions. Pittsburgh did not score an offensive touchdown and was held to three field goals (and they missed a 38-yard field goal). The Steelers punted six times and the Giants forced one turnover. Pittsburgh was limited to 59 plays, 14 first downs, 251 total net yards (70 yards rushing, 181 yards passing), a 14 percent 3rd down conversion rate (2-of-14).

The biggest defensive negative was probably the easy the Giants’ first-team defense allowed Pittsburgh to drive 70 yards in seven plays on the opening drive. Not only did the Steelers gouge the Giants with a 46-yard screen pass, but the run defense allowed 24 yards on four carries (6 yards per rush). But on 3rd-and-3 from the Giants’ 7-yard line, the defense held and forced a field goal.

DEFENSIVE LINE - by Eric Kennedy

Mathias Kiwanuka, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Mathias Kiwanuka – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The Steelers were able to run up the gut on the Giants on their first possession. Johnathan Hankins missed a tackle in the backfield on a play that gained 9 yards. He’s a big, strong presence but he wasn’t as effective as he was last week against the Bills. In the 2nd quarter, he flashed on one pass rush. The Steelers picked up 8 more yards running at Hankins and Jason Pierre-Paul on the next play. After that series, the run defense stiffened up. JPP played much stronger at the point-of-attack. He got fooled on an end around but showed great hustle chasing down the receiver. On the next play, Pierre-Paul smashed the quarterback just as he released the ball. On 3rd-and-15 in the 1st quarter, both Mathias Kiwanuka and Pierre-Paul put tremendous pressure on the QB, causing an incomplete pass. JPP was flagged with an illegal use of hands penalty earlier on this drive. It’s interesting to note that the Giants’ third-down pass rush package had Robert Ayers at defensive tackle. He flashed on one play, forcing a quick throw. However, he was also flagged with a neutral zone infraction.Markus Kuhn cleaned up with a sack off a blitz from Quintin Demps.

In the second half, the initial defensive line of Israel Idonije, Markus Kuhn, Jay Bromley, and Robert Ayers gave the Pittsburgh reserves fits. Ayers and Idonije flashed on the pass rush, and then Damontre Moore and Ayers nailed the running back for a 2-yard loss on a 3rd-and-10 draw. On the next series, Moore again blew by his man to force an incompletion on 3rd-and-4. After the muffed punt by Charles James, Jay Bromley dominated the next series with two strong pass rushes (the first also causing a holding penalty). Moore also flashed on the rush on this series. Later in the quarter, Bromley stuffed the run and Moore then hustled back to stop a screen play on 3rd-and-9.

In the 4th quarter, I thought Kerry Wynn looked pretty good at times rushing from the strongside end spot. Jordan Stanton came up with a sack and forced fumble on a play where defensive holding was caused.

LINEBACKERS - by Eric Kennedy

Like the defensive line, it wasn’t particularly pretty on the first drive but the starters improved after that. Jameel McClain seemed to be getting blocked fairly easily. He did make one strong  play agains the run late in the 1st quarter. The only solid run defense on the first drive came when Devon Kennard held his ground at the point-of-attack and Jacquian Williams cleaned up from the backside. On the next drive, Williams had excellent coverage on TE Heath Miller on 3rd-and-five. McClain was apparently flagged for defensive holding, but that looked like a bogus call to me.

Spencer Paysinger made a really nice play against the run where he avoided the block and tackle the back for no gain. He then hit the quarterback on a blitz. He did not look as strong in coverage however and was lucky he did not get beat for a touchdown on a 3rd-and-8 play from the Giants’ 20-yard line. Earlier on this drive, Kennard and Mark Herzlich failed to make the play on a 7-yard run around right end.

Mark Herzlich made some noise in the second half. He made a nice play on the back in the hole, stuffing him for a 1-yard loss. He followed that up by expertly sniffing out and disrupting a screen pass. Later he made a nice sure tackle after a short pass reception. On the next play, Paysinger failed to bring the back down short of the sticks on 3rd-and-8. Terrell Manning recovered the fumble late in the game to preserve the win for the Giants.

DEFENSIVE BACKS - by Eric Kennedy

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Walter Thurmond – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Interestingly, Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers didn’t even test the defensive backs on the first drive until 3rd-and-3 on the final offensive play of the possession, and that ended with textbook coverage by Walter Thurmond to force a field goal. I wonder if we will see more teams shy away from the defensive backs and throw more at the tight ends this year. Thus far this preseason, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is completely shutting down his side of the field. Nice hustle by Prince Amukamara on this drive to track down the uber-speedy Dri Archer on the 46-yard screen. On the next series, Amukamara made a nice sure tackle just short of the sticks on 3rd-and-8. Amukamara was flagged with an illegal contact penalty before this play, Antrel Rolle made a textbook open-field tackle for a 1-yard loss after a short pass to the tight end.

In the 2nd quarter, Quintin Demps flashed a blitz, causing a sack. Zack Bowman was flagged for illegal contact on a play where it looked like the defensive back just ran right into him. Strange call. Later on this drive, Bowman was beat on a 28-yard gain on 3rd-and-2.

The story line in the secondary in the second half was the continued struggles of Jayron Hosley, who doesn’t seem to know that he needs to turn around to play the football in order not to get flagged for pass interference. Hosley was first flagged for PI on a 3rd-and-6 incomplete pass. Early in the 4th quarter, he failed to turn around again on a 47-yard PI call that set up Pittsburgh at the Giants’ 18-yard line. To his credit, he did have two nice plays on the rest of this series to help force a field goal (but again, on one of these plays, he didn’t look back for the ball).

Ross Weaver had nice coverage on one deep pass. Bennett Jackson was flagged with defensive holding, wiping out a sack/fumble. C.J. Barnett finished the game by forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Giants.

SPECIAL TEAMS - by Eric Kennedy

Both place kickers did an excellent job. The Giants did not allow a kickoff return with five touchbacks (2 by Josh Brown, 3 by Brandon McManus). Brown hit a 45-yard field goal and McManus a 46-yard field goal.

The Giants returned four kickoffs, with Quintin Demps returning two for 46 yards (both 23-yard returns). Preston Parker returned the other two for 37 yards (for 20 and 17 yards).

Preston Parker returned one punt for 12 yards and fair caught two more. Charles James muffed  his only chance, giving the ball back to the Steelers at the Giants’ 21-yard line and leading to a field goal.

Steve Weatherford averaged 47.2 yards on six punts (45.8 yard net). Punt return coverage was excellent with the Steelers being held to eight yards on four returns (the long return being only four yards). Marcus Harris flashed as a gunner on one play causing a fair catch. Zak DeOssie smashed the returner after only a 1-yard gain on another. Later in the game, he was the first guy downfield again making the tackle.

(Boxscore – Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants, August 9 , 2014)
Aug 122014
 
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Curtis Painter, Ben McAdoo, and Eli Manning; New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Curtis Painter, Ben McAdoo, and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

When Curtis Painter re-signed with the New York Giants this offseason, he knew the situation and scenario right in front of him.

Painter, 29, was a journeyman in the NFL who’d only seen action in three of his five NFL seasons. One year earlier, the Giants had trade up in the fourth round to select Ryan Nassib, costing the Giants their own fourth- and sixth-round picks.

New York had been forced to keep three quarterbacks on the team’s roster in 2013. They didn’t want to do it again. There was one open spot behind Eli Manning.

Was it going to be Painter, or the player New York had traded up to select in the 2012 NFL Draft?

Painter knew the odds. Painter didn’t care if they were stacked against him.

“I can’t control anything like that,” Painter said. “That comes from the upper management and coaches. All I can really do is do my best on the field and try to help the team get better.”

The apparent long shot to make the Giants’ final roster has seen his odds significantly increase this week in training camp. After receiving the NFL equivalent of ‘scraps’ for reps in the first three weeks of camp, Painter has worked entirely with the second team in each of the last two practices.

Painter downplayed any such ‘promotion’ on the depth chart, but the increase in snaps has been noticeable. Throughout the early portions of training camp, Manning and Nassib would split 80-to-90 percent of the team’s reps in each drill before Painter would see the field.

When the offense and defense would work one-on-ones, it was Manning and Nassib throwing passes while Painter handed off to running backs in the distance. While his time on the field was far from glorious, Painter made the most of it. Slowly, but surely, his reps began to increase.

Early in camp, interceptions, poor decisions and forced passes began to mount for Nassib. While Nassib has improved both in practice and the preseason, Painter just kept on making the most of what he was getting. Then, Painter made his ultimate case for a promotion when the Giants took the field for Saturday’s preseason home opener versus the Steelers,

After a Nassib’s incomplete swing pass – which was ruled a fumbled lateral and returned for a touchdown — put New York behind late in the fourth quarter, Painter entered the contest and promptly marched the team down the field on a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended in a three-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Corey Washington.

Painter finished seven-of-seven for 68 yards and one touchdown.

“When you can put together a drive like that, whether it be in the first quarter or fourth, you’re going to be pleased,” Painter said. “We did some things well.”

Painter has seen every second-team rep since.

“I don’t think much about it,” Painter said. “At the end of the day, you’re running the same plays. It’s just a matter of going out there and executing and knowing your responsibilities. “

Aug 122014
 
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New York Giants Training Camp (July 27, 2014)

New York Giants Training Camp – Photo by Connor Hughes

AUGUST 12, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
Maybe it was the drizzling rain slowly coming down in East Rutherford, bouncing off the helmets of the Giants attempting to hold practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Maybe it was the wind, whipping around the practice field. Maybe, just maybe, the offense still doesn’t understand Ben McAdoo’s West Coast scheme.

Either way, it wasn’t a pretty practice for the Giants’ offense at the team’s training camp today. There were more interceptions, more drops, more bad passes and few big plays. Not even the attendance of Super Bowl hero Plaxico Burress could spring life into Manning and the offense.

On to the report…

Jayron Hosley and Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (September 29, 2013)

Jayron Hosley returned to practice – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE WALKING WOUNDED...
A couple of the players that missed practice yesterday returned today. Victor Cruz, Marcus Harris and Jayron Hosley were all back. Odell Beckham Jr. went from doing just individual work, to some seven-on-seven reps, too.

Then, there were those that were still out. Xavier Grimble (hamstring), Peyton Hillis (ankle/foot), Trindon Holliday (hamstring), Jerrel Jernigan (knee), Mike Patterson (shoulder), John Conner (concussion), Xavier Grimble (hamstring) and John Beason (foot) were absent again.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
Brandon McManus needed to have a near perfect camp if he hoped to upset Josh Brown for the Giants kicking spot on the 53-man roster. Today certainly didn’t help his cause.

  • Yesterday was punt/punt return; today was kick/kick return. Your returners? Preston Parker, Quintin Demps and Marcus Harris. Your up-men? Henry Hynoski, Marcus Harris, Andre Williams and Michael Cox.
  • I said it was an ugly day for McManus…and it was. The kicker went 2-for-4 with both kicks missing wide. One of the two he made did drill the cameraman atop the crane. At this point, it looks like Josh Brown has the position all but wrapped up. McManus has a cannon for a leg, he just needs consistency. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a good player in the league in a few years, he’s just not there yet.

INDIVIDUALS…
There were a few interesting drills run during the individual portion of practice. The most interesting? A little-league style tackling drill that the defensive linemen seemed to get a kick out of. Players stood facing each other. When the coach yelled, ‘Go!’ all would wrap up, then roll-tackle the player to the ground. I don’t think one defensive lineman got through this without laughing.

  • One little funny incident happened during a linebacker drill: Jim Herrman yelled for ‘Spencer’ to run from the left side to the right. The result? Both Spencer Adkins and Spencer Paysinger jogged over. Herrman laughed and said he meant “Megatron” which means Adkins.
  • In a drill with just the offense, Odell Beckham Jr. worked with the second team. The Giants do need him to catch on and get going quickly. The offense right now just doesn’t have the playmakers to be effective. Beckham was supposed to be counted on, but he hasn’t been on the field.
Rueben Randle, New York Giants (June 12, 2014)

Rueben Randle – Photo by Connor Hughes

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
As always, the first team-oriented drill the Giants run (aside from special teams) is the two-minute drill. Normally, like it was today, the Giants’ starting offense matches up against the starting defense.

  • For the time being, Curtis Painter is the Giants No. 2 quarterback. Again today Painter took all reps with the third team as Ryan Nassib worked with the threes.
  • Eli Manning hit Rueben Randle for a deep play down the right sideline. Zack Bowman was in coverage and Randle simply jumped over top of the veteran to make the catch.
  • While he saw some snaps at center during the Giants’ preseason game versus the Steelers, Weston Richburg has worked entirely at left guard these last two practices.
  • I’ve seen this quite a bit and I wouldn’t be surprised if it translates to a game: the shovel pass. Manning, Painter and Nassib have all gone to it the last couple practices.
  • The more practices that go by, the more likely it appears Mario Manningham will not be a part of the Giants in 2014. Not only is he suddenly buried on the depth chart, but Manningham has now dropped six passes in his last two practices.

ONE-ON-ONE…
The Giants offense and defense split into two. The quarterbacks, receivers and defensive backs did some one-on-one drills while the running backs, defensive linemen and offensive linemen did some running drills. Another tell-take sign that Nassib is struggling – he was the quarterback handing the ball off while Painter and Manning threw to the receivers.

  • Manningham dropped one of his three passes during this drill.
  • In a one-on-one matchup, Quintin Demps had very good coverage on Corey Washington. On a slant, Demps got inside position to take the route away.
  • Walter Thurmond III had good coverage on a slant attempt to Victor Cruz. Cruz came up a bit limp, but was back for the next series.
  • A nice battle between Washington and Rodgers-Cromartie. Cromartie came away with a nice defense on blanket coverage

SEVEN-ON-SEVEN…
I said it in the last report, I’ll say it again. A Giants’ training camp practice isn’t a Giants’ training camp practice until the defense starts intercepting some passes. Yesterday, it was during the 11-on-11. Today, it was the seven-on-seven.

  • Eli Manning hit Victor Cruz for a deep touchdown on a flag route past Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. By my count, that’s the first long ball Cruz has pulled in during camp.
  • Odell Beckham Jr. took part in his first drill which involved a defense. The results? Not pretty. The first two reps Beckham got both ended in interceptions. The first, Manning went to him on a slant that Amukamara came away with. The second involved Curtis Painter forcing the ball and Jayron Hosley picking it off. On another play, Beckham ran a curl and and Ross Weaver batted it out of his hands.
  • Michael Cox dropped a very, very easy pass out of the backfield.

ELEVEN-ON-ELEVEN/TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
There wasn’t much taking place during either of these two portions of practice. My guess? It was the end of the day, the rain was coming down and the wind whipping around. No one looked good. It wasn’t pretty.

  • This is where Mario Manningham’s third drop occurred. Easy curl, Rodgers-Cromartie batted it out.
  • A skirmish broke out between Damontre Moore and Weston Richburg. Just as punches were going to be thrown, several players broke it up. Moore didn’t like something that happened and was going after Richburg.
Damontre Moore, New York Giants (August 10, 2013)

Damontre Moore – © USA TODAY Sports Images

  • Ryan Nassib hit Travis Harvey for a long touchdown, sort of. It was a busted coverage and Nassib was ‘sacked’ before the pass was thrown.
  • Touchdown pass from Curtis Painter to Kellen Davis in the back of the end zone in the red zone. Busted coverage.
  • Kendall Gaskins fumbled the ball very early on a carry. Either he didn’t get the handoff quickly, or a defensive lineman had great hands.
  • Bennett Jackson hasn’t had the strongest of camps, both before the foot injury and after. He was beat by Preston Parker for a touchdown on a flag route. Ryan Nassib threw it.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
Two previous times the Giants had run a timed two-minute drill. Once it was second-string versus second-string, then it was third-string versus third-string. Today? The ones went at it. The result? A turnover on downs for the offense. They may have picked up one first down and that was discrediting the two would-be sacks by Jason Pierre-Paul.

The second-to-last training camp practice will be  held on Wednesday from 1:20-3:30pm.

Aug 112014
 
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Corey Washington and Eli Manning, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Corey Washington and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 11, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
Throughout the course of this year’s training camp, Corey Washington had made highlight-reel catch, after highlight-reel catch against the third- and fourth-string Giants’ defense.

While the catches were impressive, they always came with a bit of an asterisk simply because of who was guarding the 6-4, 214-pound rookie.

Then Monday’s practice came. Victor Cruz, Marcus Harris, Jerrel Jernigan and Trindon Holliday did not practice and Washington got his first chance to play with the starters.

The result? Catch… after catch… after catch. Then, just for good measure, another catch.

Washington stole the show at Giants’ training camp as he continues to make a push for a spot on the final 53-man roster.

John Conner, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

John Conner – © USA TODAY Sports Images

SETTING THE STAGE…
The same faces were absent from practice again today: Trindon Holliday (hamstring), Peyton Hillis (foot/ankle), Xavier Grimble (hamstring) Mike Patterson (shoulder), and Jon Beason (foot). Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring) and Daniel Fells (knee) practiced in a very limited capacity.

Then there were the new faces. Victor Cruz (knee), John Conner (concussion), Marcus Harris (hip) and Jayron Hosley (foot) did not practice. Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin did say after practice he expects Cruz, Harris and Jernigan to return tomorrow.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
The Giants were in shells today, so it’s really tough to gauge anything that really transpires at practice. You can look at little things, but it’s more flag football than anything else. Special teams falls in that same category. Really the only observations to be made are that of who’s lining up where.

  • The Giants worked punt team and punt return today. Your returners have dwindled down quite a bit since camp started. Just Rueben Randle, Odell Beckham Jr. and Preston Parker were back fielding kicks. This group, more than any, has thinned out the most.
  • Josh Brown kicked today and went a perfect 4-for-4. The kicking battle really is tight this year.
  • Charles James II and Bennett Jackson were your starting gunners. Ross Weaver and Zack Bowman were on the second unit. In a drill that practiced downing the ball inside the five, neither James or Jackson stood out. James misjudged one and had it go through his hands. Jackson misjudged a hop and missed it entirely.

INDIVIDUALS…
There was just one player I was keeping my eye on during the individual portion of practice: Odell Beckham Jr. For the first time since the very first practice, Beckham was back on the field doing something with the group of receivers. Here are a few observations:

  • It seems as if the drill involved even a little contact, Beckham was held out. The first thing the Giants receivers did was a one-on-one with defensive backs where all they had to do was get by them. No quarterbacks were involved…and no Beckham. Odell sat this drill out.
  • The first portion of practice Beckham took part in was one where a route-tree drill was run with the quarterbacks. The group of receivers would line up facing one direction of the field, run a pattern and the quarterback would throw the ball. Beckham moved well and didn’t waste any time bringing the crowd to their feet…

  • I did my best to see if I could find something…anything…to pick out on the negative front with Beckham. Truly, I couldn’t. This wasn’t because Beckham was perfect, but rather he didn’t do all that much. Aside from the route tree, Beckham was with the trainers. Tomorrow’s another practice and we’ll see if Beckham does more. Maybe this segment should just be renamed “Beckham Watch.”

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
Overall, Eli Manning and the offense looked pretty good in the two-minute drill. The starters connected on a few big plays and three-straight touchdowns down in the redzone. Albeit, the scores came against the reserves.

  • On three straight plays, Eli Manning went to Corey Washington. On three straight plays, Corey Washington made the catch in front of Prince Amukamara. The first two came via a curl route, the third on a skinny post. It was only the beginning of Washington’s stellar afternoon.
  • Corey Washington doesn’t just play receiver, he plays defensive back, too. Eli Manning made a terrible decision attempting to force the ball to Washington and it was traveling directly to Jameel McClain. Truly, it was going to hit him between the ’5′ and the ’3.’ Washington jumped up and over McClain, reached around and batted the ball out of his hands.
  • Pretty interesting development that Coughlin shook off, but I took as much bigger. Curtis Painter took all second team reps while Ryan Nassib worked with the third team. The quarterback rotation worked as follows: Manning, Painter, Manning, Manning, Painter, Nassib.
  • Eli Manning strung together three straight touchdowns in the redzone. The first – Manning found Rueben Randle on an in-route at the goal line. The second – Manning hit Randle for a touchdown on a fade route. The third – Manning hit Julian Talley on a flag route. Again, these all came versus the second- and third-team defense.
  • It’s very tough to gauge Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, simply because no one throws his way. On Monday, Manning wanted desperately to take a shot to Washington, but had to pull back because Rodgers-Cromartie had lock-down coverage.
  • Mario Manningham is on the roster bubble and needs to catch everything thrown his way. Instead, he dropped three passes today. If his name wasn’t ‘Mario Manningham,’ I’d give him zero shot to make the team.

    Mario Manningham, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

    Mario Manningham – © USA TODAY Sports Images

  • Maybe being dropped to the third team was exactly what Ryan Nassib needed because on his first pass he made an unbelievable throw. Rolling out to his right, Nassib put one on a line to Preston Parker on a deep comeback. The issue? Two throws later he sailed one over Randle’s head on a slant.

SEVEN ON SEVEN…
Of all drills run in shells, the seven-on-seven may be the one you can take the most out of. It’s simple, the receiver has to get open and the defender needs to prevent that from happening. Today was a relatively slow day in the drill, but here’s the update:

  • Andre Williams is now catching just about everything with his hands. The issue? It still doesn’t look natural. Still…progress. He’ll improve each day.
  • Eli Manning made his best throw of the entire training camp. Manning dropped back and fired a pass deep down the field to Rueben Randle who was covered by both Prince Amukamara and Stevie Brown. Despite the double coverage, Manning placed the ball where only Randle could get it. The LSU alum reached out and caught it with his finger tips on the way to the endzone. The throw and catch caused several to say “Wow.”

ELEVEN-ON-ELEVEN…
It’s not a New York Giants practice until the quarterbacks start throwing interceptions. The Giants made it to the final leg of the race before the pick birds came out. Two INTs by the starting defense versus the starting offense.

  • Antrel Rolle notched the first interception of practice, jumping an Eli Manning pass intended for Rueben Randle.
  • A play later, Manning was intercepted again, this time by Prince Amukamara. Not sure who the pass was intended for because it went directly to No. 20.
  • Corey Washington continued to shine. When Curtis Painter checked in, the quarterback when deep down the far sideline for the rookie who was covered by Amukamara. Washington reached up and made the grab for a 40+-yard gain. Washington wasn’t done, making a toe-taping reception on the sideline and his best catch of practice.

The Giants will hold practice tomorrow from 1:20-3:30pm. Offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo will speak to the media at 11:15am. 

Aug 112014
 
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Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (June 18,2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (August 9, 2014)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

All offseason, Jason Pierre-Paul has answered the same question over and over and over again.

How close is he to returning to JPP circa 2011? The one that terrorized quarterbacks, was a force against the run and simply over-powered offensive tackles on his way into the backfield?

Does he feel he’s there? Is he back to the player who some once felt had limitless potential? Heck, can he even be that player again?

The answer is no. Pierre-Paul isn’t the ‘JPP of 2011.’ In fact, he doesn’t want to be, either.

What does the former All-Pro want?

“To be better,” Pierre-Paul said.

Better? Is there a better? Just three short years ago, Pierre-Paul recorded 16.5 sacks in his second NFL season. He was ferocious and fearless, making quarterbacks’ Sunday afternoons a nightmare. ‘Up’ from there would be teetering on a record-breaking year? A record that a recently inducted Hall of Famer set wearing Pierre-Paul’s same jersey.

Is that in clear sight?

“Yeah,” Pierre-Paul said, “Maybe.”

Whether it’s 2011 Pierre-Paul, or a new-and-improved JPP, either will be welcome on the Giants’ defensive line this year. The old, familiar faces who had once terrorized quarterbacks are gone. Michael Strahan is a talk show host. Osi Umenyiora is in Atlanta. Justin Tuck in Oakland.

From the team that defeated the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI, just Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka remain across the defensive line.

Actually, in recent memory, the Pierre-Paul who took the field at Lucas Oil Stadium in February 2012 hasn’t been seen much since. In New York’s championship run, Pierre-Paul recorded 104 tackles, 17 sacks and two forced fumbles in the regular and postseason.

In the 27 games since? Pierre-Paul has managed just 93 tackles, 8.5 sacks and one forced fumble while dealing with a string of nagging injuries.

“Being injured, nobody wants to be injured,” Pierre-Paul said. “It comes with the game; you never know when you’re going to be injured. You have to fight through it. You go out there and play. If you can’t, you can’t.”

Thus far in training camp, Pierre-Paul’s been healthy and as a result his play has been eerily reminiscent of just a few short years ago. Not only has his game made an apparent return, but so too has his talk.

Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (October 28, 2012)

Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Pierre-Paul is provoking opponents during his few snaps during the preseason, teasing teammates and, the way defensive coordinator Perry Fewell sees it, having “fun” again.

“I’ve seen a much better attitude. I’ve seen the old JPP,” Fewell said. “His attitude is good. His work ethic has been very good. He’ll continue to develop and I’m sure he’ll re-gain his form.”

Versus the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Giants’ preseason home opener, Pierre-Paul was as active as he’d been in a long time. He tracked down a receiver on an end around, put in a full-force sprint on Dri Archer following a screen and put a huge hit on quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.

He looks, by all counts, like he’s back and if he is, is that limitless potential back? Wanting to be better than the 16.5 sacks in 2011, is there a number in JPP’s mind that he’d like to reach?

“Nope,” Pierre-Paul said. “Unlimited.”