Victor Cruz – © USA TODAY Sports Image
by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor JohnF
Hello muddah, hello faddah,
Here I am at Camp Granada.
Camp is very entertaining,
And they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining!
Yeah, yeah, I know. Camp is at the Timex Quest Diagnostic Training Center (hopefully no medical testing kits!) now, not Camp Albany. Still, I’ve been to the Garden State before (I attended several games at Giants Stadium, and I have relatives in Bloomfield), so no big deal, right? So I figure, I’m going to Quest down and spend a day at camp!
So I pack up the usual gear…Small Giants Cooler, Duffel bag with Laptop, MiFi, notebooks, umbrella, large print edition “Art of War” (it’s hell on flies, bugs, and non Giant fans, Sun Tzu rules!), gum, old smelly towel, stale jokes, old digital camera, batteries, etc. I’m going to light up that metal detector like nobody’s business!
It has been a while, though…I should check directions. Should be easy in this age of GPS, Internet and Tom Tom’s…
Wait a second….W-a-i-t a s-e-c-o-n-d…let me try another map…
Ah, THAT’s better! I’ll get a nice early start in the Honda, get my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee (extra large, this is a longer trip), and ramble down the Thruway. Should be a piece of cake…
Why does this ALLWAYS happen when I get off of exit 15 instead of 16????
Ok, let me get a good seat in the stands, so I can see (I’m missing the hills back home already, sigh), and it’s time for
BITS AND BYTES COUNTDOWN EDITION
Oh, did I tell you I got an exclusive from Ralph V? Now, we all know Ralph is famous for his “doom and gloom articles” about the giants (see here), but let us look at his shot of the Giants much talked about “Countdown Clock”:
Enough of the small talk, let’s go!!
For those of you coming to camp, it’s a bit different this year. There’s a fence outside the complex; the gap in the fence is where Security checks your bags and wands you. They are actually very professional and nice, by the way. They let me know about the new game policy (won’t affect me since I don’t do game reports, so on the rare occasion I go down, I travel very light.)
Even so, it’s still feels disturbing when someone has to check you with a wand for a practice. I over heard the staff talking about all the push back they were getting over this.
I arrived later than I wanted to, so the prime spots (the two stands on my left) were full. I went over to the first stand on the right corner of the field (there are three over there, though the last one has obstructed view), facing the VIP tables on the opposite side which are outside the administration offices and kitty korner to the indoor playing field.
In effect, from my view there are three fields, and a small annex field that goes around the right side of the Timex Indoor Field. Yes, I said Timex, as they haven’t changed the huge print on that roof! So I’ll call the fields in front of me 1, 2, 3 (three being next to the VIP tables/administrative building), and the annex field continuing for about 30 yards from the end of field 1.
Enough of that! I scarf down my lunch, just in time to see the first players coming out to applause by the fans (5 minutes early, of course!) The QB’s lead the group, with Painter in the lead (oh, it’s great not to have to spell Perrilloux this year Eric…just sayin!) Cruz and Diehl were chatting as they come out.
The Oline was knocking around the sleds next the extreme right of the Timex Indoor (you could hear the banging from a distance). Mosley, Boothe, McCants and Browning were with the QB’s snapping the ball. I saw the Dline (boy they look bigger this year…not fat, just wide!). I think Michael Jasper lost his waist somewhere (or they found a living Lego player, as he was built like a box!).
Wow, who shrunk #27? Oh, that’s Stevie Brown with Jacob’s old number. Silly me!
Horn…er… Let’s try 184 days, 8 hours, 23 minutes till SB XLVIII!
The usual limbering up (wave arms, stretch, etc) on Field 3. Not so much to watch since Mitch Petrus isn’t around.
Weather Report: 86 degrees, partly cloudy, humidity 50%, wind supposedly at 10 mph (but it starts to gust a LOT later on!).
So, now everyone’s Jumping, Hopping, Skipping, then back to Leg Stretches.! I know most of the action will be on Field 3, since that’s where the camera towers are. They are sneaky, though, since they don’t bring the towers out till the last minute.
Hey, the NFL refs are here! With NFL approved shorts! Let’s check out the injured players…I see Kuhn stepping around horizontal pylons, moving pretty well for a big guy (he’s bigger this year, and yeah, he looks like Shockey’s lost brother). Must have been on the Schnitzel diet.
Hynoski is moving gingerly, but I can’t tell how well he’s walking, as he has some sort of rubber band contraption strung between his ankle. He’s not bending very well, and looks uncomfortable. T2, on the other hand, is stretching gingerly, but looks in a better mood.
184 days, 8 hours, 13 minutes till SB XLVIII
The team splits up into groups.
Field 1: LB’s are covering TE’s/RB’s.
Field 2: Dline is getting coaching; Austin looks lighter, but I still think he needs to grow the dreads back. Sampson would agree.
(Note here…I’m not anywhere near the action, so I can’t be as detailed as last year. Think of trying to report using binoculars from the stands in Albany near the Lacrosse Field all the way over to the field next to Western Avenue; but then not having that elevation, and looking either through a 10 foot chain link fence. The stands I’m on has a cover, but the cover has poles holding it up.
Also, with binoculars you have a limited field of vision, so I had a hard time seeing the action when they had 11 on 11).
184 days, 8 hours, 8 minutes till SB XLVIII
Field 1: Ok, the Defense is going into “circle drills”. Think of a diamond….on each corner of the diamond, you have a different drill. The defensive players rotate, so they are exposed to each drill.
Drill 1. Coach tosses ball to player who’s back pedaling.
Drill 2. Coach fumbles ball, player picks it up, runs with it and hands it to another coach.
Drill 3. Player blitzes dummy that looks like a QB, then picks up fumble.
Drill 4. Player fights off blocker, to fill hole in line.
Field 2: The QB’s are doing pitch and catch (QB’s to Receivers). The TE’s are in another group, where they practice technique blocks (influence blocks on other TE’s who pretend to be Dline guys); for example, blocking under a Dlineman shoulder to “influence” him to go in the direction you want, as he thinks he’s penetrating, but it’s not where he should be.
The Olinemen are doing crab walks across horizontal pylons.
Field 1: Now the QB’s are practicing play action fakes, using the RB’s..they either hand off or play action and throw. The TE’s and RB’s practice trying to catch passes head level or somewhat higher…you have to use your hands, no body catches!
Field 3: Olinemen now are practicing staying low through their blocks, using a metal bar cage that allows them to block through, but not raise their backs. DB’s in another group are back pedaling and breaking to a ball thrown by the coaches. The safeties are in another group…they are following the ball as the coach moves it side to side, working on their footwork. The LB’s are hitting a blocking dummy.
Field 1: More pitch and catch between QB’s and RB’s/TE’s.
Field 3 (Annex): The DL is hitting the blocking sled.
Field 1: The Oline is working on blocking DL twisting (two O Linemen with plastic shields are blocking 2 O Linemen who pretend to twist rush).
Field 1: The Safeties are working on inside coverage technique (WR doing a post or curl in). The LB’s are working on outside coverage (WR doing a flag, or curl to sideline).
Field 3: All the defensive players are gathered. It’s “O” vs “D”, with defensive players simulating offensive players by wearing red or yellow caps against the rest of the defense playing their normal positions. Looks like drop-back coverage and man to man drills.
Field 2: RB’s and TE’s hit the blocking dummy. More Oline practice against twist blitzes by the defense, or hitting LB’s in the hole.
Field 1: Way off to the corner, Weatherford, DeOssie and Brown are practicing snaps for FG’s or Punts.
Field 2: Just Dline and Oline now, coach is playing QB. They are doing a lot of pushing and grunting.
184 days, 7 hours, 48 minutes till SB XLVIII
Everyone goes to Field 3 (by the VIP’s).
Field 3: 11 vs 11, Offense vs Defense.
We start off with run only plays.
Eli hands off to Wilson up middle (x2).
Eli in shotgun shovel passes to Wilson.
Carr hands off to Torain (middle).
Carr hands off to Scott, OT Left through a nice hole.
Carr hands off to Wilson OT Right.
Carr hands off to Torain OT Right.
The NFL Refs become obvious, looking down the line for off sides. I scan left to the sideline, and see Nicks chatting with Corey Webster…both are not practicing, though both are smiling.
184 days, 7 hours, 28 minutes till SB XLVIII
Ok, I can’t see anything for a while. The players are lining up on Field 1 up and down, blocking my view. I think they are going through plays, as I see yellow and red caps.
Field 2: more snap practice with Brown, Weatherford and DeOssie.
Field 3: (way to the right) The DL/LB’s/Safeties are working together on drop back coverage. Now they break out the red and yellow caps, so it’s defensive “O” vs “D”, 11 on 11.
I look at the water station and Nicks and Snee (also not practicing). Snee has a large wrap on one leg (no, I’m not telling you which one). Nearby, Reese and John Mara are talking, but I don’t see Pat Hanlon (sigh, I wanted to do a style report!!!).
184 days, 7 hours, 18 minutes till SB XLVIII
Everyone to Field 3: 11 on 11, O vs D.
Eli pass to Wilson no gain up middle.
Nassib pass to Randle in the Left Flat (I notice Tuck is doing a lot of standing up and rushing).
Eli pass to Pascoe, nice touch pass over defender. Pascoe has good hands today!
Carr pass to Wilson, middle screen.
Eli handoff to Scott, OT Left stuffed.
Nassib pass to Barden, who does a nifty slide over the middle to catch a wormer.
Painter hands off to (can’t see) OT R stuffed.
Nassib throws ball away under pressure.
Nassib to (can’t see) OT R stuffed.
Nassib shows some nice touch on a pass to Carlos in L Flat.
KO’s (hmmm, didn’t see Punt returns, which is unusual in a TC practice). Brown is kicking across Field 2 to Field 3.
Wilson and Randle (up left sideline) with nice returns. Cox does a return, but gets shoved to ground (one of the harder hits today). Jernigan slithers up the right sideline for a return.
Brown then does FG’s on Field 2, starting at the 5, and working back (he hit all of them, though a couple tended to his left). One looked near 50 yds, just making it over the upright (with the NFL refs holding their hands up, good!!!).
Field 2: Oline is banging on Dline (or is it visa versa?)
Field 1: The crowd perks up as we see some long passing.
Eli with a nice bomb to Randle up the L Sideline.
Eli with a L Flat pass to Scott, then throws the next one away after pressure.
Eli tries a long middle seam pass to Myers, but a group of DB’s knock it down.
Carr tries a L Flat pass, almost picked off by J. Williams, who does pushups.
Carr launches a long pass up middle to Barden, but McBride with a nice knockaway.
Carr tries a L Flat, but Scott gets caught up in the “wash” and the ball falls to the ground.
Nassib nearly gets picked off by Charlie James in L Flat.
Nassib tries to hit Kevin Hardy, but a NICE cover by Laron Scott, who knocks the ball away.
Ugh.. the stands are shaking…it’s not those meddling kids behind me, in the playground is it? Nope..the “Hawk” makes its appearance. It’s gusting badly now, and it’s hard to see through the binoculars.
184 days, 6 hours, 53 minutes till SB XLVIII
Eli tries a long pass up the middle to Talley, but Prince will have none of it.
Eli then hands off OT Right to Andre Brown.
Nassib flips a pass to Wilson in the L Flat…then Wilson “flickers” up the L Sideline for a big gain. It’s hard to see this guy when he starts multiple cuts!
Eli hands off to Wilson OT Right, nice gain up the R Sideline.
Eli then throws the ball away, nobody’s open (but he does not see nobody, I guess…).
Carr with a pass to Scott in the Right Flat, no gain.
Carr passes to Scott up the middle.
Painter hands off to Torain, OT Right.
Nassib tries to pass to Scott, but Curry smells him out (can’t be too hard this late into practice) and stuffs the play, no catch.
Nassib tries to pass to Jernigan in the R Flat, but Caldwell (I think) skies over him to deflect the pass. This might make camp highlights.
Nassib (he’s getting a lot of work, eh?) passes to Cox up the middle.
Nassib tries a pass up the middle, but Bosworth with a nice defensive knock down of the pass!
Nassib with his best pass of the day, a pass to Talley in the R Sideline, lofting it over Mertile, who had no chance despite tight coverage.
Ok, time for 2 Minute Drill!!!
Eli’s back, and goes for Bear in the middle flat (and hits him!)
Eli to Randle in the middle flat.
Eli to Scott Right sideline.
Eli to Barden, who gets the pass in the right flat.
Eli to Bear in the Left Flat.
We start the drill again with Carr.
Carr to Barden, R Flat.
Carr to Kris Adams, L Flat.
Carr to Jernigan, L Flat.
(ugh, Hawk is back..the stands are really shaking!)
Carr, throws ball away with pressure.
McBride knocks down a Carr pass in the L Flat.
Carr to Jernigan who comesback in the R Flat.
184 days, 6 hours, 33 minutes till SB XLVIII
Hey, do I hear the Spinners?
Hey, y’all prepare yourself
For the Rubberband man
You never heard a sound
Like the rubberband man
You’re bound to lose control
When the Rubberband starts to jam
Yep, the rubber band stretch is out, end of practice. After the stretches, the team goes to a big group, then splits into smaller groups, who have their yell/chant, then break up.
Eli looked good today, Nassib is interesting, but he’s hesitating a bit…you can see him holding the ball for a split second or so when he has it by his head. Hopefully, this is just processing the speed of the game, and his delivery will be more natural.
No real impressions from the rookies, but I’ll leave that to the first pre-season game. The way practice is now, you really don’t get the hard hitting that pads used to inspire.
What you didn’t see after practice:
Bear working out with Keith Rivers, working on footwork.
J. Williams doing some extra work with Sam Madison (who was wearing shades, Red shorts AND a Red top…stylish!).
Myers, Childers and Sabino doing some football “pepper” next to the Timex Indoor.
Tuck kick a football like a soccer ball, (to his kid?).
Sam Madison coming to the fence (for autographs and chat), to a small group of fans. They were doing the usual “hey Sam, you were the best Dolphin player ever!”. Sam laughed and said Marino was.
Sam’s cool, I hope they hire him as full time coach.
This session of camp is over, it’s time to move on. The sun declines in the west, casting shadows that hint of fall, even though it’s still summer. I pack up the binoculars, put away the notebook where I scratched my notes. Camp isn’t over…but I have to go.
I’ve talked many times about football camp. For some of us, it brings back memories of our own time when you could smell the grass from the stains on your uniform, leather pads heavy with sweat, salt pills and wind sprints. Others remember a cool drink, sitting on the grass next to a tree and peering through binoculars, trying to pick out your favorite player, or getting that precious autograph or kind word from an athlete.
Every sport has its time. Baseball has spring training, and the promise of summer. Football has training camp, where its season starts, and you know fall is coming. Every player thinks he will make the team, or start. Every one holds on to hope; the promising rookie, the grizzled veteran, the coaching staff with their long hours away from their families. Every camp has surprises and disappointments, injuries to players, and players coming back from injuries.
Camp is where championships start, or where they might be lost. Every player is a story, and camp is a symphony of stories, common themes with endless variety under the master conductor, the head coach.
For fans…for us…camp is what we make of it. As fans, we can share a common experience, at camp, at the stadium, at home with friends and family. There’s something special that happens when people have a common cause, a common interest, and share a common history.
I’m back at my Honda Accord, time to turn the key and travel north, to home. Home, where the old ghosts are, ghosts of camp past. The Quest, in time, will spawn it’s own stories, it’s own ghosts. Stories never die, as long as there are fans around to tell those tales to other fans, young and old.
I switch on the radio, scan for a tune to match my mood. I hear snatches of a Springsteen song, fading in and out…
(well, it IS Jersey…)
We played king of the mountain out on the end
The world come chargin’ up the hill, and we were women and men
Now there’s so much that time, time and memory fade away
We got our own roads to ride and chances we gotta take…
Now the hardness of this world slowly grinds your dreams away
Makin’ a fool’s joke out of the promises we make
And what once seemed black and white turns to so many shades of gray
We lose ourselves in work to do and bills to pay
And it’s a ride, ride, ride, and there ain’t much cover…
Now on out here on this road
Out on this road tonight
I close my eyes and feel so many friends around me
In the early evening light
And the miles we have come
And the battles won and lost
Are just so many roads travelled
So many rivers crossed
And I ask God for the strength
And faith in one another
‘Cause it’s a good night for a ride
Cross this river to the other side