Aug 082014
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Pittsburgh Steelers at New York Giants, August 9 , 2014

It’s a gradual learning process with the New York Giants this season as the offense continues to learn Ben McAdoo’s new West Coast scheme. Sunday’s Hall of Fame game was a taste. Saturday’s game versus Pittsburgh should be the appetizer.

THE STORYLINE:
Progress. Progress. Progress. Last week versus the Buffalo Bills, the Giants’ starting offense took the field for three possessions. Two looks very bad, one looked very good. The good one came against the Buffalo’s No. 2 defense. Tom Coughlin said on Tuesday the Giants installed two new elements of the offense in practice this week. Is there an improvement with the starters? We’ll see.

FOUR DOWNS:

Andre Williams, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

First Down
Who’s the Giants’ No. 2 running back?
When David Wilson announced his retirement, it ended the career of a promising back far too soon, but it also opened up questions on who exactly will be spelling Rashad Jennings. Andre Williams flashed in Canton, but he hasn’t proven he can catch. Peyton Hillis has proven he can be a serviceable back, but he’s dealing with an ankle injury. Kendall Gaskins and Michael Cox? The two had a combined 22 carries a year ago. Can someone from this group step up?

Second Down
Can Charles James II handle punt return duties?
When Giants’ special teams coordinator Tom Quinn spoke to the media last week, he said Charles James II and Preston Parker would get extended looks as a punt returner with Odell Beckham Jr. and Trindon Holliday ailing. Holliday is no sure bet to make the team, James isn’t exactly a lock either. The chance to show his value on special teams should be music to his ears for the young corner. If James can show he can be a serviceable returner, reliable with the chance at a big return every now and then, it could go a long way for him making the team. He’s on the bubble as a corner, being a returner could be just the edge James needs.

Third Down
Will the first-team offensive line and tight end be able to generate running room for Rashad Jennings?
Last week, the answer was no. Last year, Eli Manning found himself constantly in 3rd-and-long situations because the Giants had no running game. The Steelers will be a good test.

Fourth Down
Can the first-team defensive line generate a pass rush?
Last week, the answer was again no. The Giants need to see more of pass rush from Jason Pierre-Paul, Mathias Kiwanuka, Cullen Jenkins, and Johnathan Hankins.

Michael Cox, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Michael Cox – © USA TODAY Sports Images

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Connor Hughes – RB Michael Cox
Playing with some very, very bad offensive linemen in front of him, Michael Cox flashed versus the Bills on Sunday. The one play that stood out to me was the screen pass in which he applied a perfect chip bock, then took a few steps up, caught the ball and picked up a good gain. With Hillis ailing and Wilson retired, Cox should see extended reps at running back. This is his chance to not only prove he deserves a spot on the final 53-man roster, but a role on the offense as well. There are reps to be had, Cox needs to grab them. If he can’t? Well, there could be a roster move made next week to bring in another body.

Eric Kennedy - WR Rueben Randle
We heard last  year at camp how great Randle was doing. We’ve heard that times this year as well. Last week, Randle didn’t have a pass thrown in his direction. In 2013, Randle played in all 16 games but he only averaged 2.5 catches per game, did not score in the last six games of the season, and only had one 100-yard receiving game all year (the opener). With Hakeem Nicks gone, Rueben is being penciled in as the the starting split end or X-receiver. He’s got to be a guy who can get open and make plays against top cornerbacks. If not, teams will constantly double Cruz. Who knows when Odell Beckham will be able to play, and how productive he will be since he is so far behind? Randle needs to prove he can do it.

THE INJURY REPORT:

• Jon Beason (PUP LIST/foot/out)
• Will Beatty (pre-planned/leg/out)
• Trumaine McBride (pre-planned/hip/out)
• Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring/out)
• Xavier Grimble (hamstring/tbd)
• Geoff Schwartz (knee/tbd)
• Mike Patterson (shoulder/tbd)
• Trindon Holliday (leg/out)

FROM THE COACHES MOUTH:
Tom Coughlin: (on how he manages a second preseason game when for many its their first) “If there is a normal role, I suppose you are describing it. Our guys will play the same amount or maybe a little bit more than they did before. I still want to see, if we can, everyone who is dressed. If they are able to play, I would like to see them all.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Connor Hughes - There was promise shown in Canton, now it’s time to build on that and develop consistency. I want to see what Eli Manning looks like another week into the offense. I want to see an improvement amongst the offensive line. I want to see if Marcus Harris can continue to move what he’s shown in training camp to the game day field. But more importantly, as the story line says, I just want to see progress. Because I got the score right last week, although teams wrong, I’m picking again :)
Giants 20 – Steelers 14

Eric Kennedy – On the offensive side of the ball, I still expect growing pains (ups and downs) with Eli Manning and the new offense. But he’s still not my #1 concern. My number one concern is do the Giants still have enough offensive weapons to really scare other teams. We have Cruz. But we don’t have a tight end. I’m not sure we have a starting split end (Randle has to show me; how far behind is Beckham?). I like the running backs, but losing David Wilson takes away the home-run hitter who I think would have done very well in Ben McAdoo’s offense. When will Will Beatty be able to play a full game? And how will he rebound? Do we have a starting-caliber right guard? Defensively, everyone has been saying JPP is back, but we haven’t seen it yet. Can these ends rush the passer?
Steelers 20 – Giants – 13

Aug 072014
 
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Charles James, New York Giants (August 24, 2013)

Charles James had his fifth interception of the offseason in Thursday’s practice – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 7, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
As the Giants took the practice field for the final time before Saturday’s game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, it was just more of the same.

The defense intercepts three-to-four passes. The defense returns three-to-four interceptions for touchdowns. The Giants quarterbacks go back to the huddle and try to figure out what went wrong.

At first, a lot of praise was given to the cornerbacks and the traditional logic of ‘the defense is ahead of the offense’ fit. But this is three weeks into camp. It’s not even Prince Amukamara, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie or Walter Thurmond III hauling these down. It’s Charles James, Zack Bowman and Chandler Fenner.

Seriously, the Giants’ offense is making Chandler Fenner and Zack Bowman look like Deion Sanders and Darrell Revis.

On to the report.

Odell Beckham (13) and Zack Bowman (31), New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Odell Beckham is getting closer – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE WALKING WOUNDED…
Bennett Jackson returned to the field for his second day of work. Odell Beckham Jr. continues to work on the side of the field with trainers. Peyton Hillis, Daniel Fells,Mike Patterson, and Trindon Holliday all took turns riding bikes. Geoff Schwartz worked in-and-out with the offense. Peyton Hillis and Kelcy Quarles are both still out with ankle injuries. Will Beatty just did work individually. No alarm, he won’t play Saturday so Charles Brown got all first team reps. Jerrel Jernigan also returned.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
It was tough really to gauge too much of practice because the team was in just shells. No contact, essentially two-hand touch. There were some observations to be made though.

  • The following players saw punt return looks: Preston Parker, Jerrel Jernigan, Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle and Charles James II. James and Parker got the majority of the reps.
  • With Bennett Jackson still not 100 percent, it was Marcus Harris getting reps as the lead gunner opposite Zack Bowman.
  • It was Brandon McManus’ day to kick. He went 3-of-4. The one miss was ugly on a complete shank wide left. That brings his camp misses to three. Josh Brown has missed two.

INDIVIDUAL…
There were a few pretty interesting drills run by the Giants’ offense today. Some different ones that we haven’t seen before.

Adrien Robinson, New York Giants (July 27, 2013)

Adrien Robinson – © USA TODAY Sports Images

  • Just to throw this one out there early: Odell Beckham Jr. was working off in the distance running routes at about 3/4 speed with a coach throwing him passes. He seems to be progressing nicely. My take? He gets on practice field Monday.
  • Cool drill being run with the tight ends. One player would run in place with another right behind him. As Kevin Gilbride Jr. threw the pass, the “defender” would smack the “offensive” player’s arms. Pretty interesting way to work on catching in traffic.
  • Andre Williams caught two passes, by my count, with just his hands. Got a video of the one. It still doesn’t look natural, but it’s coming along.

ELEVEN ON ELEVEN…
With today being a lighter practice, the Giants ran a few different variations. Saw some eleven on eleven, then primarily cards. Practice concluded with a two-minute drill. Here’s the highlights from 11-on-11.

  • Henry Hynoski was featured a bit more today in the pass game than usual. Saw the fullback catch two or three about 5-8 yards down the field.
  • Geoff Schwartz worked in at out at left guard. When he wasn’t in, Weston Richburg took his place.
  • It seems as if Charles Brown is having a very, very tough time guarding Jason Pierre-Paul. By my count, I had two sacks and one pressure for JPP coming off the edge. It could have easily been more.
  • The defense intercepted three passes, could have been five. Seriously. Five. First miss came when Charles James II undercut a pass from Ryan Nassib to Jerrel Jernigan. James missed it by an inch and the pass fell incomplete.
  • Near interception No. 2: Eli Manning went down the seam to Larry Donnell who was guarded well by Jameel McClain. Stevie Brown came over top and Manning’s pass sailed a little high. Brown didn’t watch it in, though, as the pass fell through his hands.
Henry Hynoski, New York Giants (December 30, 2012)

Henry Hynoski – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE CARDS…
I described this a bit last week and it will be a trend the final practice before each game. The offensive coach holds up a card with a play on it and the defensive coaches do the same. Then, the play is run.

  • Another Henry Hynoski sighting in the pass game. This time he beat Jacquian Williams.
  • I saw this a bit last week, Giants didn’t go to it in the game but it’s there. The read option with Ryan Nassib seems to be something in Ben McAdoo’s back pocket.
  • Marcus “Soup” Harris continues to catch just about everything that is thrown in his zip code. He beat Prince Amukamara on an out, then got deep on a shallow post.
  • Chandler Fenner has had a nice showing the last two days of practice. He fought a ball away from Corey Washington on a deep in.
  • First interception of practice comes from Zack Bowman. He picked off Ryan Nassib. I had my head down so I missed the exact play. Either way, he returned it for a touchdown.
  • Second interception (and fifth of camp) came from Charles James II. The second-year pro undercut an Eli Manning pass intended for I believe Victor Cruz. James II then returned it for a touchdown.

THE RED ZONE…
Following some special teams work, the Giants lined up and worked through a red zone drill. It wasn’t pretty for the offense as the defense continued to have all the success.

  • Ryan Nassib threw a terrible interception to Zack Bowman (his second of the day). On a play-action roll out, Nassib threw it, well, directly to him. Ben McAdoo gave him a few words of ‘encouragement’ after that.
  • Nice pass defense from Prince Amukamara as Manning looked for Rueben Randle in the back of the endzone. Prince had it guarded perfectly and knocked it away.
  • Something happened between Jameel McClain and Adrien Robinson. Didn’t see too much, but McClain got up yelling about “having maturity.”

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
Yesterday, the Giants concluded practice by running the two-minute drill with Ryan Nassib under center. Today, it was Curtis Painter’s turn. The drive didn’t last very long. On a fourth-and-two from midfield, Painter went deep for Corey Washington. Washington got past Chandler Fenner for the ‘game-winning’ touchdown. Really pretty pass from Painter, dropped it right into Washington’s hands.

 

Aug 072014
 
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Brandon Mosley, New York Giants (December 22, 2013)

Brandon Mosley – © USA TODAY Sports Images

This was the moment Giants’ guard Brandon Mosley had been waiting for.

After a long, injury-filled rookie season, the former fourth-round pick was going to be able to step foot on the field, go toe-to-toe against Detroit Lions’ defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairly and show coaches exactly what he was capable of.

He started strong. Then, it all came to a screeching halt. In the first quarter, Mosley broke his hand.

His start, his season and his chance: All over.

“It was tough,” Mosley said. “It was very frustrating and I was very down about it. You finally get a chance to start and show them what you got, then that happens.”

Now a year later, Mosley, healthy hand and all, sits atop the Giants’ depth chart at right guard. A place he hopes to stay. A place once occupied by Giants’ great Chris Snee.

When the Giants reported for the team’s offseason conditioning program, there was a familiar face holding the position Mosley now does. 10-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowler Chris Snee was battling back from elbow and hip issues, determined to erase all memories from a dreadful 2013 campaign.

Snee started the offseason as a full participant in the Giants’ voluntary workouts. Then, as the days went on, Snee’s body began to fail him. His health deteriorated and Snee walked away, opening the door for Mosley.

During the two years the two played together, Snee had taken Mosley under his wing. Despite being drafted as an offensive tackle, Mosley began to work more and more with the offensive guards. Snee would watch film with Mosley, show him the ropes and push him in the weight room.

While Snee was always regarded as the ‘strongest’ member of the Giants’ roster, Mosley gave him a run for his money.

“I hated to see him go,” Mosley said. “He was such a great leader and teacher. He taught me a lot in the short amount of time I was with him.”

Mosley is now focused on taking what Snee taught him and displaying in on the field. He’s gotten the majority of the work with the starters, but free-agent acquisition John Jerry and rookie guard Weston Richburg are just as eager to fill the Snee-sized hole on the Giants’ offensive line.

In Sunday’s Hall of Fame game versus the Bills, Mosley credited himself with an “all right” performance. There were the ups, there were the downs and all the learning curves of a young offensive lineman.

Early in the game, Mosley had his hands full with Pro-Bowl defensive tackle Kyle Williams. Against the second-team line of the Bills, Mosley helped pave the way for several long runs on the Giants’ 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive.

There was room for improvement and Mosley knows that. There are areas of his game he needs to perfect, especially if he’s to take the field with the starters on Monday Night Football in five weeks.

If Mosley steps on the field at Ford Field against the Lions as a starter, it’ll be full circle return from where his season suffered an early stop last year.

“Right now, I’m really just trying to compete for the starting spot first,” Mosley said. “But if it does come to that, it will be exciting to be able to go back there.”

Aug 072014
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 17 – Buffalo Bills 13

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.

Eli Manning and Ben McAdoo, New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Eli Manning and Ben McAdoo – © USA TODAY Sports Images

First Down
How does Eli Manning look in a West Coast Offense?
The short answer? Good. The long answer? It’s a work in progress. Manning created a few waves when he and others said the goal this year was to complete “70 percent” of his passes. Well, after one game, Manning is completing over 85 percent. He went 6-for-7, missing on his first throw and then hitting his next six. There will be many more check downs this year, something that early on appears to suit Manning.

Second Down
The progression of Ryan Nassib
Entering into Sunday’s game, Ryan Nassib was coming off two of his best practices of the summer. His showing in the Hall of fame game displayed that. Nassib put some zip on the ball, displayed his mobility and the ability to keep plays alive. There was accuracy shown and some arm strength. Unfortunately, he also showed the inconsistency. Both the intentional grounding and nullified interception were the ‘bad’ aspects you get with the ‘good’ of Nassib.

Third Down
The ‘Legend’ of Devon Kennard
Kennard played well in his first game in a Giants’ uniform. He was physical, wasn’t out of position much and made his usual ‘pop’ play down by the goal line. Kennard ran through a pulling offensive guard, knocked the guard back, while retaining his own balance, and tackled Anthony Dixon near the goal line.

Fourth Down
The rebuilt, re-tooled secondary
One stat says it all, Bills’ quarterback E.J. Mannuel completed 3-of-7 passes. On the few deep passes thrown against Prince Amukamara, the former first-round pick had perfect coverage. On the two passes thrown at Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (both of which were batted down), the corner had cut on the ball and was in position to make a play. The secondary looks good. Very good.

OFFENSIVE OVERVIEW - by Eric Kennedy

Six offensive players did not make the trip to Canton, including key contributors WR Odell Beckham (hamstring) and LT Will Beatty (migraine). Also missing were RB David Wilson (neck), WR Trindon Holliday (hamstring), TE Xavier Grimble (hamstring), and OG/OC Eric Herman (hip).

The Giants had nine legitimate offensive possessions, not counting the kneel down before halftime and three plays to run out the clock at the end of the game. The Giants starting offense played three of the nine possessions (1/3 of the game). They struggled on their first two drives, one three-and-out followed by sack/fumble turnover after picking up one first down. The first-team offense then easily drove down the field on a 12-play, 80-yard drive against the Bills’ second-team defense.

In the second quarter, Ryan Nassib and the second-team offense took the field. Nassib had two drives in the second quarter, the first was an 8-play, 52 yard possession that resulted in a 47-yard field goal. The second only covered 15 yards in six plays.

In the second half of the game, a mixture of second-, third-, and even some fourth-teamers participated in four more offensive possessions that traveled 29 yards (5 plays), 23 yards (5 plays), 69 yards (2 plays, including a 4-yard loss), and 36 yards (12 plays). The highlight was obviously the 73-yard scoring pass from Nassib to WR Corey Washington.

Overall, the Giants accrued 308 total net yards (121 rushing, 187 passing) and 19 first downs. The team was a respectable 6-of-13 (46 percent) on third down and won the time of possession battle 33:37 to 26:23.

Based on my comments below, I have major concerns about offensive line depth and the tight end situation. As much as Jerry Reese supposedly did this offseason, the cupboard is still too bare at these critical positions.

Eli Manning, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

QUARTERBACKS - by Eric Kennedy

Eli Manning’s completion percentage was impressive (6-of-7, 86 percent). But he only threw for 43 yards. It’s going to take me some time to get used to this dink-and-dunk offense. However, Eli actually looked more adept at it than I expected, particularly for the first game. His first throw was a bit off the mark (or Jerrel Jernigan was a bit off the mark on his route). But after that, Eli was a perfect 6-for-6. It’s interesting to note that five of the first eight plays (all against the Bills’ starting defense) were designed quick throws. One-two-three…throw. Two passes were intended for Jernigan, three for Jennings. On the 12-play, 80-yard drive, Eli only threw twice, once to Jernigan for 8 yards (on 3rd-and-5) and once to TE Daniel Fells for 10 yards.

My biggest problem with Eli was his decision-making on the sack-fumble play. Both tackles gave up some heat, and the not-so-nimble-footed Eli tried to blindly spin-scramble out of trouble. Problem is by scrambling, he ran into a third defender who had gotten away from Geoff Schwartz. The loss of yardage on the sack would have been bad enough, but losing the football was worse. He can’t be that careless. This play was somewhat reminiscent of his happy feet in the pocket in 2013. Hopefully, this is not a developing trend in his game as he ages.

Ryan Nassib came into the game at the start of the second quarter and played until the beginning of the fourth quarter. He finished the night 7-of-12 for 139 yards, although 73 of those yards came on the one play to Corey Washington. Nassib had two drives in the first half, with mostly second teamers. He was 5-of-8 for 49 yards on those two drives. He showed good mobility and accuracy on a rollout pass to TE Larry Donnell and found WR Marcus Harris for a 25-yard strike over the middle on a strong throw. Pressure in his face caused an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-7 to end his first drive. After completing three short passes on his second drive, he just missed WR Julian Talley deep down the middle (the pass was a tad too high). His 3rd-and-14 incomplete throw to Harris looked on the mark, but it was tough to tell without instant replay.

With a step down in surrounding talent (more third-stringers), the third quarter was not as kind to Nassib. He had two more drives. After completing one short pass that was called back due to offensive pass interference, Nassib threw his worst pass of the night. With pressure in his face, he tried to force the ball to a well-covered Adrien Robinson, not seeing a second defender just sitting in the throwing lane and easily picking off the pass. Luckily for Nassib, a roughing-the-passer penalty erased the interception. Two plays later, however, on a naked boot to the left, the defender on that side didn’t bite on the play-action and was immediately in Nassib’s face. Again, Nassib panicked a bit, throwing the ball into the turf despite not being outside of the pocket. Intentional grounding was correctly called. On the second drive, Nassib completed a 17-yard pass to Mario Manningham, but was sacked two plays later (a penalty on the Bills erased the sack). After two runs, Nassib couldn’t connect with Marcus Harris after a blitzing linebacker got in his face. Nassib’s final throw of the night was his slightly under thrown long ball to Corey Washington for the go-ahead (and game-winning) touchdown.

Curtis Painter (3-of-3 for 26 yards) came into the game with less than 11 minutes to play. He looked respectable.

Andre Williams, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

RUNNING BACKS - by Eric Kennedy

I liked what I saw from Rashad Jennings (7 carries for 23 yards, 3 catches for 20 yards) and Andre Williams (7 carries for 48 yards) when given an opportunity by the blocking up front. Both are bigger, more physical backs. Both seem more “Giant-like” to me. Jennings has very natural hands and I think he is going put up big reception total numbers in this offense. Eli trusts him. Nice job by Jennings to pick up 5 yards after the catch on 3rd-and-2. Williams demonstrated surprising agility and quickness for a big man, and his 3-yard goal-line touchdown was a no-nonsense effort. Both were helped on the third drive by some very good lead blocking from FB Henry Hynoski. On that drive, 10 of the 12 plays were running plays to Jennings and Williams, gaining 62 of the 80 yards on the possession. I don’t know what was going on with John Conner, but he didn’t look as focused and physical as he did last year. Hynoski out-played him in round one of the FB battle.

With David Wilson done, the drop off from #1 and #2 running back to #3 is pretty big right now. Peyton Hillis (7 carries for 36 yards) can block, catch, and run with some power, but he isn’t very quick or fast, as demonstrated by his 7-yard run on 3rd-and-12 where he made a really nice cut, but couldn’t outrace the defense to the sticks. Kendall Gaskins (5 carries for 5 yards) didn’t have much room to operate behind the third-team line, but he didn’t flash any special qualities either. He also could not sustain his block on a blitzing linebacker that led to an incomplete 3rd down pass.

I was more impressed with Michael Cox (9 carries for 3 yards) despite what the horrendous stats indicate. When given a chance, like his back-to-back 9- and 7-yard runs, he demonstrated better acceleration and quickness than Hillis and Gaskins. Cox stood out on the middle screen play where he expertly chipped a blitzer who could have blown up the entire play, made the one-handed reception, and then ran tough for the first down on 3rd-and-8.

WIDE RECEIVERS - by Eric Kennedy

Oddly, no passes thrown in the direct of Victor Cruz and Rueben Randle. Jerrel Jernigan was the only wide receiver targeted by Eli, catching two of three passes thrown in his direction. Randle did a nice job of run blocking on Williams’ 21-yard run.

Marcus Harris flashed in the third quarter with the second team, especially on his fearless 25 catch-and-run over the middle. He finished the night with 4 catches for 49 yards. He might have had a bigger night had he been able to come down with a 3rd-and-14 throw by Nassib that looked on the mark. Good effort by him on his run blocks as well.

Mario Manningham caught one pass for 17 yards. Corey Washington stood out with his very nice leaping catch where he out-fought the Bills’ defensive back for the ball and a 73-yard score. Julian Talley was flagged for offensive pass interference.

TIGHT ENDS - by Eric Kennedy

Larry Donnell was the #1 tight end in this game. I spotted him getting stymied in the hole as a lead blocker from the fullback position on the first possession. On the second possession, as he was blocking down on DE Mario Williams, Williams squeezed inside to stuff Jennings for a 1-yard loss on 2nd-and-1. But what was weird on this play was that LG Geoff Schwartz ran past Williams to pull around Donnell, as if the running play was supposed to go behind Schwartz and not to the inside where Williams made the play. In other words, I’m not sure Donnell was at fault here.

After this, I thought Donnell did a nice job as a run blocker from the traditional down position, including on the long touchdown drive. He looked good catching a 13-yard pass on a QB rollout in the second quarter. Daniel Fells caught a 10-yard pass before he suffered a knee injury in the second quarter and was forced to leave the game. His blocking looked solid. Right now, Donnell and Fells appear to be the top two tight ends on the depth chart.

Adrien Robinson seemed to be the next guy off the bench, followed by Kellen Davis. Robinson didn’t impress me with his blocking, particularly as a move tight end. He was flailing around out there at times.

Bottom line, the Giants may have a developing player in Donnell and a somewhat serviceable journeyman in Fells, but not much else. Robinson still looks like he isn’t developing and the fact that Davis appeared to be #4 on the depth chart is not a good sign for him. Hello waiver wire come cut-down time. Not good for a Ben McAdoo offense that relies so heavily on tight ends.

OFFENSIVE LINE - by Eric Kennedy

Starting were Charles Brown (LT), Geoff Schwartz (LG), J.D. Walton (C), Brandon Mosley (RG), and Justin Pugh (RT). I was more down on this group when I originally watched the game, less so when looking at the game film a second time. Simply put, there were not enough snaps to adequately judge the starting group.

On the first two drives against the Bills’ formidable starting defensive line, five of the eight plays were very quick (and designed to be quick) throws to Jernigan and Jennings. Given the quick set up and throws, the line was easily able to keep heat off of Eli on these five plays. On the play before the sack-fumble, the offensive line had formed a perfect pocket on the 5-yard completion to Jernigan. The problems were on the other three plays: two runs and one pass. On the first run, as mentioned above, Donnell got stood up in the hole by the linebacker. On the second run, as mentioned, Mario Williams defeated an oddly-designed or executed short-yardage play, leading to a 1-yard loss. On the one passing play where Eli didn’t quickly throw the ball, both Pugh and Charles Brown gave up some pressure (Pugh also was flagged with holding on this play). Eli decided to blindly scramble away from it with a spin move. Geoff Schwartz’s man then broke free to sack Manning. Tough to judge Schwartz here as he probably was surprised by Manning’s move away from the pocket. That said, Schwartz does not look very athletic to me. He lumbers in the open field (he looked really out of place on a screen play). Interesting note is that Mark Asper played tight end on Andre Williams’ goal-line touchdown play.

On the third drive, the first-string offensive line – as one would hope – began to exert itself against the second-team defensive line of the Bills. The Giants ran the ball 10 times for 62 yards; both passes were completed for another 18 yards.

James Brewer, New York Giants (January 30, 2012)

James Brewer – © USA TODAY Sports Images

In the second quarter, the fourth drive started off with Brown (LT), Weston Richburg (LG), Dallas Reynolds (61), Mosley (RG), and Pugh (67). On this drive, James Brewer came in for Pugh at right tackle. Brown was a bit shaky at times throughout the game, including against the backups. During his rookie season in 2011, Brewer was tasked with carrying the team’s lucky teddy bear on road trips. The problem with Brewer – who is a huge athlete – is he plays like a teddy bear. He rarely delivers the punch – a guy that big and strong and nimble shouldn’t be getting pushed back by smaller defenders. Reynolds looked decent at times, but also blew a block on a running play that went nowhere. On the last drive in the second quarter, John Jerry came in for Mosley. He did not look good.

In the third quarter, the line started off as Brewer (LT), Richburg (LG), Reynolds (C), Jerry (RG), and Rogers Gaines (RT). Jerry and Gaines were the obvious weak links on this line. Perhaps Jerry still is fighting his way back from the offseason knee surgery that caused him to miss the OTAs. Or perhaps he simply stinks. But for a big guy, he doesn’t get any movement on his run blocks and he was getting bull-rushed on passing plays. It was his man who got in the face of Nassib on Nassib’s worst throw of the night. Gaines had problems in pass protection a number of times, and both Jerry and Gaines gave up a 3rd quarter sack. In the fourth quarter, John “the human turnstile” Sullen came in at right guard. He was dreadful.

On the last real drive of the game, the line had Brewer (LT), Jamaal Johnson-Webb (LG), Richburg (C), Sullen (RG), and Gaines (RT). Interestingly, I thought Richburg looked shakiest here at his “natural” center position. His man badly disrupted one running play. On this possession, and a few other times at left guard earlier in the game, Richburg was pushed back. He needs to get bigger and stronger. I don’t see the player yet who everyone is excited about.

My overall impression of the offensive line as a unit? The Giants desperately need Will Beatty back at left tackle. I think Schwartz-Walton-Mosley-Pugh will be serviceable, but this is not a physically-imposing line. Richburg needs to play stronger, but he does have good agility. I don’t like the depth situation at all outside Richburg and maybe Brown. Jerry doesn’t look good at all. Brewer is very versatile, but he’s a soft player. When Dallas Reynolds looks like one of the better backups, you know you are in trouble. The rest of the guys – quite frankly – don’t look very good. Sullen and Gaines were terrible. I didn’t seen enough of Johnson-Webb.

Cullen Jenkins and Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Cullen Jenkins and Jason Pierre-Paul – © USA TODAY Sports Images

DEFENSIVE OVERVIEW - by Connor Hughes

The following players did not play for the Giants on defense after not making the trip to Canton: Trumaine McBride, Bennett Jackson, Travis Howard, Jon Beason, Spencer Paysinger, Robert Ayers and Mike Patterson. 

After watching the game live, I came away being very impressed with the overall play of the Giants’ starting defensive players and reserves. There was pressure on the quarterback, little room for the running backs to run and some tight, physical coverage from the cornerbacks.

The secondary made plays, the defensive line got after the quarterback and the linebackers did a phenomenal job of filling any holes the running backs attempted to escape through. Granted, the offense is not the strength of the Buffalo Bills, but it was still encouraging to see.

Being put in tough positions twice, the Giants’ defense held. Once, coming up with an interception following a blocked punt, and a second time holding the Bills to a field goal following Manning’s fumble. The Giants did allow one touchdown drive, a 15-play, 80-yard possession, that was aided by two penalties. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie committed defensive holding and Prince Amukamara illegal contact.

When all was said and done, the Giants’ defense allowed 246 yards (94 rushing, 152 passing). The Bills went 4-for-13 on third downs, 2-for-3 on fourth downs and were 1-for-3 in the red zone.

I had high expectations for the defense. They met them against a subpar Bills’ offense. This Saturday’s test against the Pittsburgh Steelers should be a good one and provide a larger challenge.

THE DEFENSIVE LINE - By Connor Hughes

Johnathan Hankins was one of the guys I was very interested in taking a look at. For the first time in his career, Hankins was the No. 1 defensive tackle from the start. He wasn’t used in only ‘certain’ packages. He was in them all. He impressed me against the Bills. Hankins shed blocks very well, wasn’t easily moved and found himself in on just about every running play. On the first series of the game, Bills’ running back Fred Jackson attempted to run one up the middle, Hankins stuffed the intended gap and made Jackson bounce it outside. On the second drive, Hankins mauled Chris Williams to make a play on the running back for no gain.

Damontre Moore, New York Giants (September 29, 2013)

Damontre Moore – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Another player I kept an eye on for the defensive line was Damontre Moore, and in particular, Damontre Moore against the run. Sure, his pass rushing skills have been well documented, but can he play the run? Moore showed on two separate occasions that he has improved himself against the run. Both times standing his blocker up, shedding him and then moving down the line in an attempt to bring down the ball carrier. While he did get fooled very badly on the read option, he learned. A series or two later, Moore was unblocked on a running play. Instead of crashing down, he held his ground, waited for the quarterback to commit to the running back, then came down and made the play.

As a pass rusher? Well, Moore was as good as advertised. I had three counts of pressure on the quarterback where he just out-played Cyrus Kouandjio. If both parts of his game come together, he’s gonna be a very, very good player.

While watching the game, I was impressed with Jay Bromley. After watching the film, I’m still impressed with Jay Bromley.  The rookie was strong against the run, got a few pressures and attacked with great leverage.

LINEBACKERS - By Connor Hughes

With all of the talk and praise the Giants’ coaches have given Jacquian Williams, I wanted to keep an extra eye on him. He didn’t flash too much, aside from the bat down, when watching live, so I figured I’d scope him out a bit on tape.

There was one play, on the third series, where the Bills again went deep in Amukamara’s direction. Williams went hard in one gap, there was nothing there, so he bounced around and found another opening. He used his speed to chase the Jeff Tuel down and got in his face, not allowing the quarterback to unload the ball. Williams on the blitz isn’t something that’s been seen a lot in the past, but may be featured more now.

One play, above anything else, stood out to me on the progress Williams has made. On a screen pass to Anthony Dixon, Williams fought through two oncoming linemen, split them both and made the play after only a two-yard gain. If Williams didn’t make it, it was looking like a big play for Dixon.

I read a few people that said Devon Kennard didn’t live up to the ‘hype’ that surrounded him coming form training camp. I disagree. Aside from making a few solid tackles, he made one ‘wow’ play during the game. Near the goal line, Kennard came in on a blitz and ran through Bills’ guard Chris Williams. Kennard knocked Williams back while never losing balance himself, then made the tackle on Anthony Dixon. It was impressive.

THE SECONDARY - By Connor Hughes

When Stevie Brown was appointed the Giants’ starting safety opposite Antrel Rolle, there was talk on how he’d be able to handle the run game. During is first year with the Giants, prior to injuring his knee, Brown essentially just played center field and waited to run wherever the ball was thrown. On the first play of the game, he showed he is a bit physical, too.

Brown started at the safety position, starting moving closer to the box before going on a dead sprint when the play was snapped. Brown shot through the heart of the offensive line and tackled C.J. Spiller for no gain. It was a very, very solid play against the run.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie – © USA TODAY Sports Images

The secondary, by the way, is much, much more physical this year and in-your-face. In the past, the Giants liked to hold their corners 8-10 yards back from the wide receivers. Not any more. I just saw a couple plays where the corners didn’t line up directly over the receiver. Every now and then one corner would be up, one would be back. But nearly every play had at least one up in the face of an opponent’s wideout.

I was a little weary of Walter Thurmond III during the game as I saw him get beat a few times. After watching the film, he played much better than I originally expected. On his first completion, Jeff Tuel put a perfect pass to Rob Woods that few could have defended. On a second completion given up, a slant, Woods ran directly into Thurmond causing him to lose balance. That play could have been offensive pass interference. He played well, much better than I originally thought.

Tuesday, the Giants’ secondary coach Dave Merritt called rookie Nat Berhe ‘The Missile.’ After watching the film, I know why. On the first play he came in, Berhe ran full speed into a Bills’ offensive lineman, bounced off and continued to chance down the running back. On his forced fumble, Berhe saw Chris Gragg being brought down by a teammate. Instead of just trying to put Gragg on the ground, Berhe put his helmet on the ball and forced a fumble.

(Boxscore – New York Giants vs Buffalo Bills, August 3, 2014)
Aug 062014
 
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Marcus Harris and Michael Strahan, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Marcus Harris and Michael Strahan – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 6, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
It was the Marcus ‘Soup’ Harris show at Giants’ training camp on Wednesday. The wide receiver caught pass, after pass after pass. He was roughly two receptions away from hearing ‘Soup’ bellow down from the crowd in attendance.

In all seriousness, though, the second-year pro is having a very nice camp. Below you will find the complete practice report from Aug. 6.

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

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

THE WALKING WOUNDED…
A couple new faces were added to the injury report and sat out today. Geoff Schwartz (knee) and Jerrel Jernigan (knee) did not practice. Trindon Holliday remains out with a hamstring, along with Odell Beckham Jr. and Xavier Grimble. Mike Patterson sat out with his shoulder injury, Robert Ayers Jr. returned. Peyton Hillis did not practice with his sprained ankle.

During practice, Kelcy Quarles was carted off the field with what the team later called a “sprained ankle.” He will get x-rays tomorrow. David Wilson took in practice from the sidelines.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
This section is going to be a little shorter than usual. When Quarles went down, the Giants practiced the majority of their kick return and field goal unit on the far side of the field and it was difficult to tell exactly what was happening.

  • With David Wilson and Trindon Holliday out, the following worked as kick returners: Quintin Demps, Michael Cox, Marcus Harris, Preston Parker. Cox got a lot of looks as a returner.
  • From what I gathered, the kicker who kicked went 4-for-4. Because McManus kicked yesterday, it was probably Josh Brown. Again, don’t quote me.

INDIVIDUAL/ONE-ON-ONE…
Not too much happened between the individual portion of practice and the one-on-one section, thus, we’re combining it into one. Aside from working through individuals, the Giants’ ran a 9-on-7 running drill (defensive line/linebackers vs offensive line/backs) as the quarterbacks, wide receivers and defensive backs did a one-on-one coverage drill.

  • Andre Williams, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

    Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

    It really is painful watching Andre Williams try to catch the ball. He’s attempting to use his hands more, but I guess instincts kicks in, and instead he does this half hands/half body grab. It’s ugly looking. He tried to go all hands on a swing route with no defense and the ball sailed right through. It’s a work in progress with the rookie.

  • Little trend that started here and continued throughout practice: Every single time the offense stepped on the field, it was Adrien Robinson at tight end and Andre Williams at running back. Also, with Geoff Schwartz and Jerrel Jernigan out, Weston Richburg and Marcus Harris stepped in.
  • In one-on-one’s, Rueben Randle beat Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on a come-back, back-shoulder throw about 10 yards down the field from Manning. Rodgers-Cromartie had good coverage, but it was a perfect pass from Manning. Good timing between the two.
  • Travis Harvey  made a really nice toe-tapping grab on the sideline. BBI’s instagram account got the video. Be sure to give it a follow, too

  • Right around the time when Kelcy Quarles went down (it was during the defenses portion of this practice) Jayron Hosley intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. Didn’t see the quarterback, but it was Hosley’s first interception of camp.

QUARTERBACK NET DRILL…
The Giants used to do this drill with Kevin Gilbride all the time in Albany. The offensive coaches set up three bags laying on the ground and a giant net with three holes and three different colored circles set up above the holes. The quarterbacks then need to move in and out of the bags, the coach calls a color and the quarterback needs to throw the ball into the corresponding net hole color.

  • By my count, Curtis Painter won. Score read as follows: Painter- 3, Eli Manning- 2, Ryan Nassib-2.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
Giants first team-oriented drill was again the hurry-up, two-minute drill. This was the first time Marcus Harris really began to shine. While the offense started strong, things went south down pretty quick.

  • On four of the Giants first five plays, Marcus Harris hauled in three receptions. There was one on a corner route to the outside, one on a post and one toe-tapping grab on the sideline off a tipped ball. He continues to shine.
  • Ugly screen pass from Eli Manning. Threw it, bounced of Henry Hynoski’s butt and into the hands of Cullen Jenkins. Just as a foreshadowing, I had four interceptions tallied for the defense today.
  • Manning didn’t have his best practice. He overshot an open Victor Cruz on a play that could have been a touchdown. Then, near the goal line, Eli bounced one to Cruz. He did hit Rueben Randle for a touchdown later in practice. More on that below.
  • Chandler Fenner, who the Giants signed on Friday, had a pretty nice practice. He had perfect coverage on Rueben Randle on a fade route from Manning. Then, later in practice, he intercepted Curtis Painter.

SEVEN-ON-SEVEN…
I’m beginning to pick something up on Larry Donnell: Every time he catches the ball, he falls down. He’s perfected it in a sense, making it look graceful at times. But seriously, every time he catches…he falls. Here’s your highlights from seven-on-seven’s.

  • As I said above, Larry Donnell made a nice catch on a drag…then fell down. I had him with two falls today.
  • Really, really nice coverage by the Giants starting unit. When working in seven-on-seven, after a few seconds the quarterback almost always finds someone to at least check the ball down to. On this particular play, Manning had to throw it away.
  • There was a lot of praise thrown Corey Washington’s way after his 73-yard touchdown on Sunday. With that being said, he’s still on the roster bubble and can’t afford drops in camp. He got past Ross Weaver and Curtis Painter hit him perfectly in stride. The issue? Washington dropped the ball.

ELEVEN-ON-ELEVEN…
It’s still a little difficult to tell the difference between the 11-on-11 and two-minute drill the Giants go with first, partially because of the pace the offense is run at. From what I gather, 11-on-11 always starts with the starters versus the starters.

  • Mathias Kiwanuka continues to have a very nice training camp. On a run to Rashad Jennings, Kiwanuka beat Justin Pugh off the line and practically took the handoff.
  • While it wasn’t his best day, Eli Manning threw a beautiful deep touchdown pass to Rueben Randle down the right sideline. On a roll out, Manning threw it deep to Randle who had gained a few steps on Jayron Hosley.
  • The offense, by my count, had two “Delay of Game” penalties.
  • Henry Hynoski, New York Giants (July 28, 2013)

    Henry Hynoski – © USA TODAY Sports Images

    Devon Kennard came storming in from the linebacker position and got past Henry Hynoski to make the ‘tackle’ in the backfield. The miss by Hynoski caught the eye of Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin, who began yelling. A few plays later, Hynoski rocked Spencer Adkins. Coughlin again was yelling with a slightly different tone that time.

  • Will Beatty continues to be limited. He’ll play a few series, then get a few off. The first play I saw Charles Brown come in was the first time I saw Jason Pierre Paul get to the quarterback. Big burst off the line.
  • In training camp, whenever the running back gets a handoff, he normally runs to the endzone. After he gets past the safeties, the defense just lets him go. Kendal Gaskins, who took this route, was jogging to the end zone when Nat Berhe came running in from behind and punched the ball out.
  • Chandler Fenner picked off his first pass on one from Curtis Painter. He jumped the route. Nice day for Fenner at practice.
  • Prince Amukamara and John Conner got into a little bit of a yelling and shouting match. Didn’t escalate past that, though.

SECOND-TEAM HURRY UP DRILL…
The Giants’ ran a second-team versus second-team, two-minute drill with running clock to end practice. Nassib got his team down the field and into field goal range, but couldn’t get the final spike off in time as the clock expired. I guess that means the defense won practice. Oh, the last play the offense ran before the spike was a pass to Donnell. He fell down in bounds after grabbing it.

Aug 052014
 
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New York Giants Training Camp (July 25, 2014)

New York Giants Training Camp – Photo by Connor Hughes

AUGUST 5, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
With One Direction warming up at Metlife Stadium, the Giants returned to the practice field for the first time since Sunday’s 17-13 victory over the Buffalo Bills.

Who knows, maybe the boy band’s hottest tunes were exactly what the Giants’ defense needed to get fired up.

In a practice dominated by the defense, the Giants’ intercepted three passes (all returned for touchdowns), stymied several attempted runs and recorded a handful of sacks.

Prior to practice, the Giants’ announced the signing of 11-year veteran defensive end Israel Idonije and tight end Jerome Cunningham. The team placed David Wilson on the injured reserve and waived Kendrick Adams.

Antrel Rolle and Trindon Holliday, New York Giants (June 5, 2014)

Trindon Holliday (15) sat out practice – Photo by Connor Hughes

THE WALKING WOUNDED…
This section may need to be broken down by chapters soon. Of the players that didn’t make the trip to Canton for the Hall of Fame game, Will Beatty (headaches), Eric Herman (hip), Robert Ayers (ankle), Spencer Paysinger (concussion), and Trumaine McBride (hip) all took part in practice.

Odell Beckham Jr. ran a bit on the sideline and fielded punts, but didn’t take part in the team or individual portion of practice. Trindon Holliday (hamstring), Xavier Grimble (hamstring), Mike Patterson (shoulder), Bennett Jackson (ankle) and Daniel Fells (knee) didn’t practice, either. Peyton Hillis left practice early with an ankle injury. The severity to this point is not yet known.

SPECIAL TEAMS…
With Trindon Holliday sidelined with an ankle injury, and David Wilson on injured reserve, the Giants’ return unit is getting thinner and thinner with each passing day. Today, it was the punt/punt return team’s time to practice.

  • The follow players all got looks as a punt returner: Jerrel Jernigan, Marcus Harris, Odell Beckham Jr., Preston Parker, Rueben Randle and Victor Cruz. It should be noted, Beckham seems to be progressing better from his injured hamstring. After each return, he put a little juke/spin move before jogging up the field. Last week, he literally just caught the ball.
  • With Bennett Jackson sidelined, Marcus Harris got the majority of the work as the main gunner opposite Zack Bowman.
  • Brandon McManus continues to have a very strong camp. He went 4-for-4 on field goals. Each clearing the cross bars by 10-15 yards. I’d really like to see this kid kick from as far as he can.

INDIVIDUALS…
Last week, we asked you what player you wanted to have spotlighted during practice. You answered Weston Richburg. Unfortunately, the offensive line did their individual work far away from where the media were allowed to stand. I got a few looks, but it was tough to observe everything.

  • From the little I saw of Weston Richburg, the rookie second-round pick has a very quick first step. He explodes off the ball with some pretty good speed and seems a bit quicker than his linemates.
  • During this portion of practice, Odell Beckham Jr. did some extensive running up and down the field. It started with straight-ahead movement, then transitioned to moving in a snake pattern. The Giants’ first-round pick appears to be getting closer to his return.
  • The Giants’ did some extensive work with the hook-and-ladder. Literally, they ran through the last five minutes of practice working nothing but that. When Tom Coughlin spoke to the media, he said the offense would “install” two new sections of the offense. Maybe this was an example of that.

TWO-MINUTE, HURRY-UP OFFENSE…
As is the case with every Giants’ training camp practice, the first full-team portion features a two-minute drill between the starting offense and second-string defense. Normally, after three or four plays, the starting defense replaces the two’s on the field.

Geoff Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs (August 9, 2013)

Geoff Schwartz – © USA TODAY Sports Images

  • Geoff Schwartz routinely came in-and-out of the lineup throughout practice. When he came out, he was replaced at times by Weston Richburg, at times by James Brewer. Also, Kellen Davis was the first tight end used and Andre Williams the first running back.
  • Johnathan Hankins recorded the defenses first sack when he fought his way past Weston Richburg. The team was in just uppers today, so Hankins gave Manning a nice pat on the shoulder pads and let the play continue.
  • Aside from throwing two interceptions, Ryan Nassib had a pretty good practice. He made two very nice throws with a lot of zip on back-to-back passes. The first went to Mario Manningham deep down the right sideline. The second went to Marcus Harris on a deep in.
  • Speaking of Marcus Harris, he continues to catch just about everything thrown his way. He made another ‘Wow’ grab on a comeback route. Jayron Hosley had near-perfect coverage on Harris and stuck his hand in to bat the ball away, but Harris stuck with the ball, relocating it and hauling it in for a first down. It’s getting to the point where the once-considered ‘long shot’ is becoming a near lock to make the team.
  • Dan Fox had a would-be sack.
  • Another nice play from Ryan Nassib. The second-year pro dropped back in the pocket, then climbed the pocket to extend the play before finding Mario Manningham on an in-route.
  • There really wasn’t too much ‘trickery’ when it came to old offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. In the early goings, it looks like Ben McAdoo has a few up his sleeve. During the two-minute drill, he brought Jerrel Jernigan in motion from the slot. Just before crossing Manning’s path, the ball was snapped and Manning tossed it underhand to Jernigan. This was done with perfect timing.
  • Maybe it was because the Giants installed some new things, but throughout practice the team had three delay-of-game penalties.

SEVEN-ON-SEVENS…
It was a pick-six party during the seven-on-seven portion of practice for the Giants. The offense never really got in a rhythm, rarely attacked down field and it looked almost like the corners and safeties were sitting on routes. Either way, here’s the report:

  • As good as Andre Williams looks running with the ball, he continues to catch it with his body. Throughout every training camp practice, I can recall just once when Williams caught it with his hands.
  • Kellen Davis made a pretty nice catch against Jacquian Williams. He beat Williams on an in route.
  • It looks like sometimes during practice Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie pulls up on some of the breaks he makes. You can tell he reads the play, makes a huge cut on the ball, but just before getting there lets up and lets the receiver make the grab. This could very well be because it’s practice and it’s his teammates. Either way, the speed in which he closes a small gap is impressive.
  • The one thing that is becoming very apparent is the struggle Mario Manningham has at times with getting separation. He just doesn’t look 100 percent. He shows flashes of the old ‘Super Mario,’ but he’s not there yet. The issue with that is Marcus Harris and Corey Washington keep flashing on a far more regular basis.
  • A couple plays later, Nat Berhe joined Taylor on the INT club. On a Curtis Painter pass intended for Adrien Robinson, Berhe jumped an in route for a pick-six.
Mathias Kiwanuka, New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Mathias Kiwanuka – © USA TODAY Sports Images

11-ON-11, FULL-TEAM…
Following the seven-on-seven, the Giants worked through a couple of different variations of the 11-on-11s. It started with the team’s normal scrimmage, transitioned to the red zone drill, then back to a normal scrimmage. Combining all into one, here’s your highlights:

  • Mathias Kiwanuka had a monster day. By my count, he had two sacks and beat the likes of Justin Pugh, William Beatty and Brandon Mosley. He looked very good.
  • Different NASCAR package displayed: Damontre Moore and Jason Pierre-Paul lined up as defensive end, Cullen Jenkins as a tackle. Mathias Kiwanuka then roamed around coming in to blitz from various areas.
  • Eli Manning hit Travis Harvey for a long touchdown on a busted coverage. I believe there was a little miscommunication between Prince Amukamara and Stevie Brown.
  • It’s starting to take place each practice, Larry Donnell makes some kind of ‘wow play.’ His latest, an over-the-top grab on a deep one. Covered perfectly by Nat Berhe, Donnell reached up and caught it over Berhe’s head.

  • Not sure if it was exactly a pancake, but Charles Brown got Jason Pierre-Paul on his pack during the red zone drill.
  • Stevie Brown with some text book coverage on a fade route pass to Kellen Davis in the corner of the endzone. Brown had the ball played perfectly and batted it away. Antrel Rolle came running over with a few congratulatory yells.
  • Ryan Nassib put a real nice ball on Julian Talley for a touchdown in the redzone. Video below:

  • One last highlight, Trumaine McBride jumped a Ryan Nassib pass and took it back for a pick-six. McBride has quietly had a pretty good camp.

  • Finally, practice ended when Ben McAdoo and the Giants’ offense went to the same hook and ladder they’d been working on earlier. Eli Manning took the snap and went over the middle to Julian Talley. Talley caught the ball and flipped it to Andre Williams who ran up the field.

The Giants will have another evening practice tomorrow (5:40-7:50pm), this one open to the public. The team has some fan-friendly activities planned. You can find details at Giants.com

Aug 052014
 
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Walter Thurmond and Michael Strahan, New York Giants (August 3, 2014)

Walter Thurmond and Michael Strahan – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Where Walter Thurmond III comes from, it’s not uncommon to voice your opinion.

If you think you can be the best, say it. If you feel you already are, scream it. At the end of the day, the way you feel simply stems from the confidence within yourself.

And confidence, well, the 26-year-old corner is overflowing with that. Heck, the first time he met the New York media he declared himself the best nickel corner in the NFL.

“That’s how I am,” Thurmond said “I’m not gonna say something if I can’t back it up. I was able to do that last year.”

‘Last year’ ended with Thurmond and his Seattle Seahawk teammates hoisting of the Vince Lombardi trophy. The California native was an integral part of Seattle’s secondary which gave itself the nickname: ‘The Legion of Boom.’

Thurmond and his teammates were confident, boisterous and let everyone know what they felt they could do on any given play. So when the corner signed with the Giants this offseason, he brought that same mentality with him to East Rutherford.

To his surprise, those already crammed inside the cornerbacks’ meeting room shared that same confidence. They just were a little more reluctant to let it out.

“Some of the younger players just haven’t had the opportunity to express themselves in that manner yet, for whatever reason,” Thurmond said. “They already had it in them, now it’s fun to see them let it out.”

Contributing to Thurmond’s confidence overload is fellow free-agent signee Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. The two have worked to bring the Giants’ secondary together as a brotherhood. Thurmond says if the team’s able to do that, it’ll pay massive dividends on the field.

While many secondaries throughout the league have been together for years, Thurmond and his teammates are working to build camaraderie in a short period of time. The closer the group gets, the better all will play.

Thurmond referenced how in Seattle’s secondary, every player knew what every player was thinking without a word being uttered. While the Giants aren’t on that level yet, they’re getting close.

“To be able to play together, especially in these preseason games, it really helps,” Thurmond said. “The more we’re out there together in that fire and on that gridiron being able to compete, that just builds that bond even more.”

Aug 022014
 
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Jacquian Williams (57) and Larry Donnell (84), New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Larry Donnell is ready to show the Giants what he can do on Sunday – © USA TODAY Sports Images

It wasn’t an uncommon occurrence in the Giants’ tight end meeting room last year. Former positional coach Mike Pope would gather his players together, turn off the lights and play video highlights on a projection screen of past greats in Giants’ history.

There were clips of Mark Bavaro, Howard Cross, too. But there was one who resonated with present tight end Larry Donnell more than any other. And it took place on the same field he’ll step foot on this Sunday.

With wide eyes and amazement, Donnell watched a rookie Jeremy Shockey catch a pass in the Hall of Fame game more than a decade ago. The young Shockey turned up field and proceeded to run over several Houston Texan defenders, knocking one over with a mighty stiff arm. The play put thrust the first-round pick into the limelight for the first time and instantly into Giants’ fans hearts.

“Beast,” Donnell said with a smile. “He was given the opportunity to make a play and he did.”

This Sunday, Donnell will be given a similar opportunity on the same stage Shockey graced so many years ago. If things go his way, the second-year pro may provide a ‘shock’ factor of his own.

Embraced in a wide-open position battle, the 25-year-old Donnell presently sits atop New York’s depth chart. While every tight ends works in and out via rotation, Donnell has regularly been the first on the field for any full-team drill. When the team released its first ‘unofficial’ depth chart, Donnell was listed as No. 1.

“It’s good to see stuff like that,” Donnell said, “but you can’t get too carried away with it. My thought isn’t on the depth chart, it’s on doing what I can when my name is called.”

Through the first two weeks of training camp, ‘Donnell’ has been mentioned on a far more frequent basis.

After the offseason conditioning program and beginning portions of camp showed just ‘flashes,’ Donnell has started to shine. On Tuesday, Donnell caught a pair of touchdowns including an impressive one-handed grab on a fade route.

Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin has verbally mentioned Donnell’s name as a player who’s caught is eye. Captain and safety Antrel Rolle has said he’s “loving” the 6-6, 269-pound tight end.

But there are still parts of his game that need to be refined. Sure, Donnell – who was recruited as and played quarterback in high school – has flashed as a receiver. Blocking? That’s a work in progress.

Giants’ tight end coach Kevin Gilbride Jr. has mentioned the possibility of using a ‘tight end by committee’ approach, bringing in blockers when the team needs blockers and receivers when the team needs receivers. That doesn’t sit well with Donnell.

He knows he’s not there yet, but he’s working to establish himself as an all-around tight end, one that’s capable of playing every formation, every play and never coming off the field.

“You’re never satisfied,” Donnell said. “Right now, the receiving game is a strong point and I’m trying to get better. I’m trying to improve in the blocking game and foot working area, too. I want to become that every-down type of guy.”

Donnell’s shown the ability to do it in practice, but practice is practice. Sunday marks the first time this season he’ll show his teammates and coaches what he’s able to do in a game. Just like Shockey 12 years ago.

“The last time we played in this game, that play happened,” Donnell said. “Now I have a chance to make that happen. I’m excited about it and it’s a great opportunity.”

Aug 022014
 
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Eli Manning, New York Giants (June 18, 2014)

Eli Manning  and the Giants’ offense take the field for the first time Sunday – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants vs Buffalo Bills, August 3, 2014

For the first time this season, the New York Giants take the field for a preseason exhibition game versus the Buffalo Bills. The last time New York played in the Hall of Fame game, a young tight end made an impact

Ryan Nassib (9), Ben McAdoo, and Eli Manning (10), New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Ryan Nassib, Ben McAdoo, and Eli Manning – © USA TODAY Sports Images

THE STORYLINE:
As vanilla as it may be, as Eli Manning trots out from the sideline and into the huddle it will mark the first time Ben McAdoo’s offense is displayed in an actual game. While the offense won’t be as complex as it will be come the regular season, Sunday will be the first time it’s run in a live game.

4 DOWNS:
First Down
How does Eli Manning look in a West Coast Offense?
For the duration of his career, Eli Manning has been as prototypical of a quarterback as one can get. Five and seven step drops, a perfect pocket and long balls down the field were what was asked of Manning and exactly what he accomplished. With Ben McAdoo in and Kevin Gilbride out as New York’s offensive coordinator, the question on how Manning fits a West Coast scheme is on many people’s mind.

Second Down
The progression of Ryan Nassib
Very little was shown of Nassib last year (19 preseason pass attempts) as the Giants elected to hide the fourth-round pick in order to develop. Now in year two, the No. 2 quarterback position is Nassib’s to lose. He’s looked good in the team’s last two camp practices, but can he show it in a game? Nassib should get an awful lot of reps versus Buffalo.

Third Down
The ‘Legend’ of Devon Kennard
It’s hard to watch a Giants’ training camp practice and not notice the rookie fifth-round pick. Whether it’s his bone-crushing hits, or involvement in nearly ever defensive formation, there’s something about the 23 year old that sticks out. Kennard has enjoyed hitting teammates in practice, now’s his chance to hit an opponent with a different colored jersey.

Fourth Down
The rebuilt, re-tooled secondary
For years and years, the Giants’ defense game plan was predicated on pressuring the quarterback and hiding any weaknesses in the secondary. While the scheme worked for two Super Bowl championships, eventually opponents countered. Knowing quarterbacks wouldn’t have time for long developing plays, offenses worked in short, quick-hit passes to negate New York’s ferocious pass rush. This offseason, the attention turned to the secondary and the likes of Walter Thurmond, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Zack Bowman and others. While it won’t be displayed long, how does the group look together?

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Connor Hughes – WR Marcus Harris
There have been many, many practices throughout the Giants’ training camp where the offense has looked lost, but the one constant has been second-year pro Marcus Harris. Last year’s undrafted free agent has flashed time and time again with impressive grabs, well run routes and incredible effort. Now, he needs to transition from training camp hero, to game day warrior. Can Harris have a Victor Cruz-like performance in the preseason to earn himself a roster spot? Sunday will be his first chance.

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

Marcus Harris – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Eric Kennedy – DE Damontre Moore
Christ, I could put a dozen legitimate candidates here. I am tempted to go with Brandon Mosley at right guard or his possible replacement Weston Richburg since the state of the offensive line is so critical. But I’m going to go with Damontre Moore as I am very concerned about the Giants ability to rush the passer outside of Jason Pierre-Paul. Moore flashed big time in his preseason debut last year, but got hurt in that game, and never seemed to get back on track. He’s not much bigger this year, but he is stronger and has reportedly looked sharp at camp both against the run and the pass. Will he be a future stud defensive end or just a guy? If the former, this defense could reach a new level given all of the talent in the secondary.

THE INJURY REPORT:
• Jon Beason *PUP LIST*
• Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring/out)
• William Beatty (illness/out)
• David Wilson (neck/out)
• Bennett Jackson (ankle/out)
• Xavier Grimble (hamstring/out)
• Trindon Holliday (leg/out)
• Spencer Paysinger (concussion/out)
• Mike Patterson (shoulder/out)
• Robert Ayers (ankle/out)
• Trumain McBride (hip/out)
• Eric Herman (out)

FROM THE COACHES MOUTH:

Tom Coughlin, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Tom Coughlin – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Tom Coughlin: Well, it’s obvious that you don’t play a game without wanting to win. But it’s the overall picture of the organizational things, the substitutions, the penalties – holding them to a bare minimum; don’t turn the ball over, don’t make the game a sloppy game. Establish some of the things we’d like to do. For example, I’d like to be able to run the ball and be able to do that in the first game this weekend as well. I’m sure Buffalo wants the same thing. So we have those kinds of goals, the specifics about it we’ll present to the team. Coming out of camp – we have not been here very long – have an opportunity to play a game, see what people are like under those circumstances, the enthusiasm, the energy, certainly come out of the game without injuries, all those things.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Connor Hughes – Football is finally back as both the Giants and Bills take the field on Sunday. With all the new pieces added to New York’s roster, I’m excited to see each take the field. Different players have flashed at different times during training camp, but now it’s for real. Heck, maybe even a tight end makes a play or two? Buffalo: 17 – Giants: 13.

Eric Kennedy – In a four-game preseason, the first game is usually a glorified scrimmage. This may be even uglier than that. I don’t expect the Giants starters to play long or look particularly sharp. The coaches will be more interested in working on certain plays and seeing certain players than winning the game. But it will be interesting to see how up tempo the offense is from the get-go. Keep in mind that Coughlin said this week that only half the offensive installation is in place. This is still very much a work in progress. The Giants will also be missing some very important components on both sides of the ball (Beckham, Beason, Beatty). If Nassib struggles, this one could get ugly. Buffalo 27 – Giants 13.

Aug 012014
 
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Marcus Harris, New York Giants (July 22, 2014)

Marcus Harris continues to impress at Giants’ camp – © USA TODAY Sports Images

AUGUST 1, 2014 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT…
The Giants practiced for the final time before facing the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in the annual Hall of Fame Game. As a result, Friday’s practice was a bit lighter than usual.

The team practiced in just shells, ran through an individual portion, some 11-on-11 and concluded with the ‘cards.’ The end of practice was unable to be seen as the Giants moved inside because of lightning in the area.

Below you will find the complete practice report for Friday, August 1. Also, remember to check out Big Blue Interactive on instagram for video clips and photos from practice.

Please note: We asked you for a player to spotlight in practice today. Because of the type of practice the Giants ran, it was not well suited for a player spotlight. When the team regroups following its game versus the Bills, we will have a spotlight on Weston Richburg.

SETTING THE STAGE…
Many of the walking wounded remained out. While John Jerry (knee) returned, Xavier Grimble (hamstring), Bennett Jackson (ankle), Odell Beckham Jr. (hamstring), Trindon Holliday (hamstring), Spencer Paysinger (concussion), David Wilson (neck), Will Beatty (headache), Mike Patterson (shoulder) and Robert Ayers (ankle) were sidelined. Beatty stretched with the team, but didn’t participate in the team portion. This is most likely because Charles Brown will be starting the HOF game.

Antrel Rolle and Trindon Holliday, New York Giants (June 5, 2014)

Trindon Holliday (15) sat out practice – Photo by Connor Hughes

SPECIAL TEAMS…
The Giants ran through a walk through of the special teams following their team stretch. It was the punt team’s day for work.

  • With Trindon Holliday sidelined, it was Jayron Hosley, Preston Parker, Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham Jr. (just catching), Rueben Randle and Jerrel Jernigan getting reps as returner.
  • While practicing field goals, Zak DeOssie lost control of a snap and bounced it back to Steve Weatherford. Weatherford then picked it up and ran around the outside looking to throw. The issue? No one ran with him and the coach blew the whistle. Credit Weatherford, though, he got out there pretty quick.
  • The field goal attempt was ignored and Brown was allowed to practice four more. He went 4-for-4. The kicking competition remains tied as both Brandon McManus and Brown have missed two kicks each since training camp started.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL…
The offense continues to look much better in the two-minute drill, probably because it’s how the offense runs the majority of the time. Rueben Randle spoke to the media today and said that the Ben McAdoo offense can go to the hurry up “whenever he wants.”

  • With Will Beatty out, Charles Brown played left tackle. Also, Johnathan Hankins took all reps with the first-team defense in Mike Patterson’s place.
  • Ryan Nassib had a pretty decent showing today, but he did miss two throws that would have completed a perfect practice. The fourth-round pick overshot both Mario Manningham and Preston Parker on deep balls down the field. Both receivers had a step.
  • While no one had pads on, Nassib made one of his best plays of camp. The quarterback dropped back in the pocket and went through his first couple of reads. As the pocket began to collapse on him, he took two steps up and rolled out to his right, extending the play. As he was rolling out, Marcus Harris rolled with him across the field. Nassib located Harris and hit him in stride as the receiver took it into the endzone.
  • Eli Manning tried to hit Rueben Randle on a shallow post, but Trumaine McBride undercut the pass and intercepted it. Manning just located that ball poorly. Manning responded well, though. He came back and hit Jerrel Jernigan and Marcus Harris for back-to-back touchdowns.

  • On a play-action roll out, John Conner displayed some pretty nice hands. Nassib led him perfectly in front of his body and Conner reached out and caught it in stride. He’s said he can catch the ball and move, now he’s showing it.
  • Corey Washington has quietly put together a very nice camp as well. The receiver made another nice play down the field on a deep ball from Curtis Painter.

THE CARDS…
Let’s explain a bit about what ‘the cards’ mean. Essentially, this is the same routine the Giants do their final practice before any game. The defense lines up on one side, the offense on another. An assistant coach then stands in front of both and holds up a card that has the play drawn on it. The offense then calls said play, the defenses calls their play, and then they run the plays.  It is a bit anticlimactic and the drill is run at about three-quarters speed.

  • Adrian Robinson had a pretty nice showing. He caught two passes deep down the seam from Curtis Painter.
  • Very, very interesting formation displayed by the Giants: The Read Option. Ryan Nassib has some mobility and he displayed it. Once he kept it, once he didn’t. The play would never be run with Eli Manning in the game, but Nassib could have some success with it.
  • Back-to-back nice throws from Ryan Nassib. The first he hit Jerrel Jernigan deep down the field and the second Preston Parker on an in route.
  • Another player who seems to be improving daily, Mario Manningham, made an impressive catch. With Jayron Hosley all over him, Manningham extended his hands well to catch the pass and then brought it in to his body as Hosley tried to fight it away.
  • Another Marcus Harris sighting. This time, the receiver ran a double-move from the slot and managed to pull in a pass thrown well behind him. Harris had to stop his momentum and reach behind to make the grab. He lost balance and fell, but held on to the ball.

THE RED ZONE…
After a bit of the cards, the Giants worked on their red zone drill. Working through the first, second and third teams, the Giants started around the 20-yard line and worked their way in in an attempt to score.

  • Cooper Taylor made a pretty impressive bat down on a pass from Nassib. See the video below:

  • Eli Manning came back and hit Victor Cruz for a touchdown from about five yards out.
  • Another display of Ryan Nassib’s mobility. The quarterback took a designed quarterback draw in from ten yards out. It’s not a talked about part of his game, but Nassib can run. Not unlike David Carr.
  • On the final play of practice that the media saw, Travis Harvey made a nice catch in the back corner of the endzone on a fade route from Curtis Painter. After this, the lightning forced the players inside and the media were unable to watch. During this time, we were told Charles James II intercepted another pass. Including OTA, mini-camp and training camp, James has a team-high four interceptions.

The Giants will travel to Canton on Saturday and be in attendance for Michael Strahan’s Hall of Fame speech. The team will then play the Buffalo Bills on Sunday in the annual Hall of Fame game scheduled for 8:00 pm (EST).