Jul 272012
 
 July 27, 2012  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
July 27, 2012 New York Giants Training Camp Report

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany

Day One of Training Camp.  Super Bowl Champs Draw Big Crowd

This is the 16th time that the Giants have trained at SUNY Albany.  I’ve been here for most of them.  I know from experience that big news seldom happens on the field on Day One.  Nevertheless, as is customary for Day One, the media was out in force.  TV cameramen, still photographers and reporters of every persuasion were shoulder to shoulder on the sidelines just in case something newsworthy happened.  And of course, the place was packed with happy Giants fans who came to watch their heroes, take photos, and perhaps get an autograph.

Hundred of thousands of dollars worth of cameras took thousands of photos and hours of footage in the quest for a single photo worthy of the back page, or 10 seconds of air time on ABC or CBS News.  After all, the Giants are the defending Super Bowl champions.  That alone, makes this an event that is worthy of coverage.  Ahh! Super Bowl champions.  I like the sound of that.

The annual opening practice media glut usually prevents me and the regular Giants beat writers from getting an unobstructed view of the field.  That is something that we have come to expect and we just have to put up with it until things calm down and the sidelines thin out in a few days.  But today was a little different.

It rained all morning and the four practice fields were soggy, so they switched the practice to the main field.  It has much better drainage and much more room along the sidelines for the press and cameramen to stand.  By the end of the practice it was sunny, humid and about eighty degrees.

Although last year’s NFL labor problems prevented the Giants from training in Albany, it made this year’s camp doubly exciting.  There are 90 players on the roster instead of 80 and lots of new faces.  There is the promise of last year’s rookies who will be improving with every practice.  For instance, DT Marvin Austin, S Tyler Sash, CB Prince Amukamara, LBs Jacquian Williams and Mark Herzlich, and OT James Brewer.

There are a raft of injured veteran players who are perhaps ready to get back to where they left off like OT William Beatty, DE Justin Tuck, CB Terrell Thomas  and CB Bruce Johnson, and there are newly acquired veteran players like LB Keith Rivers, DT Shaun Rogers, TE Martellus Bennett, and OT Sean Locklear, who may be able to make an immediate impact.

Most exciting of all, are this year’s draft choices, because they are mysteries.  Can they make a difference?  Can they excel?  Personally, I am thrilled that our first three choices are an RB, WR, and CB, respectively.  Those positions can demonstrate their talents on the practice field, so I will be writing about them in my reports, whereas LBs and linemen really can’t be evaluated or written about with any certainty until they play in actual games with actual hitting.

It is going to take at least a few practices for Tom Coughlin and the rest of the coaches to sort things out.  Until then, things will be in a constant state of flux.  There will be new players arriving in camp all the time.  S Deon Grant is expected to be at the top of that list.  There will undoubtedly be players on the final roster who are not yet on the team.

The Giants only have about month to get down to 53 players.  That will be more difficult this year because of the CBA inspired shorter practice schedule.

As always, my thanks to Pat Hanlon for making my job easier.  Okay, enough preamble, here’s what I saw on the field:

In the past, Head Coach Tom Coughlin put the team in shorts and shells rather than in full pads for the first few practice sessions.  It kept them cooler as they eased into the training camp routine and reinforced the non-contact aspect of the practice.  They focused more on fundamentals such as where to line up and they executed the techniques and the plays that they were learning at a walking pace, rather than at full tilt.  If there was a second practice that day, the players would be given the chance to run the plays that they walked through in the earlier session.  Except for the absence of a second practice, things were pretty much as usual.

The Giants were wearing helmets, shorts, and jerseys with little or no discernible padding.  LS Zak DeOssie was wearing shoulder pads and P Steve Weatherford was wearing his regular uniform pants rather than shorts.  Clearly, they want to make punts and snaps as realistic as possible.

Keeping in mind the lack of pads, the Giants looked sharp.  Nobody muffed a punt and nobody dropped a pass that they reasonably should have caught, well, except for RB Da’Rel Scott who had a quick pass over the middle from QB David Carr bounce off his hands.  All of the QBs were throwing passes in the 5-15 yard range.

The only really deep pass was an interception thrown by Carr and intended for WR Rueben Randle.  It looked like CB Prince Amukamara and S Stevie Brown were with him all the way down the sidelines and Prince was in the best position to catch it.  It was an impressive interception and indicates that Prince may be healthy at last.

That was the only time that Randle failed to make a catch.  I think his best catch was a line drive 15-20 yard pass from QB Ryan Perrilloux that Randle caught in stride with a semi over-the-shoulder-semi basket catch.

Rueben was also catching punts (and made some nice moves), along with WRs Victor Cruz, Domenik Hixon, and Jerrel Jernigan (who also looked good catching punts), and CB Jayron Hosley.  P Steve Weatherford looked very strong and very accurate on just about all of his punts.  He did not look like he was even exerting himself and the ball would just explode off his foot.

If given time, Steve was perfect.  When the defense rushed him, I think he lost some concentration.  There was one punt that went twenty yards over the receivers heads and into the defensive linemen who were watching the punting drill.  DT Marvin Austin pretended that he was going to catch it and that brought a laugh out of the crowd.  I like a guy with a sense of humor.

Speaking of humor, there is S Antrel Rolle’s Mohawk haircut.  On the left side of his head where his hair should be, he has a large design in a shade of neon green known as chartreuse.  Humor aside, Rolle made an excellent pass defense on an Eli Manning pass intended for Domenik Hixon.  Hixon redeemed himself later on, with a diving sliding reception of a Manning pass.

Aside from the punting drills, all of the defensive players worked on stripping the ball from behind.  The WRs also practiced getting off the line of scrimmage against the DBs.  I don’t think that WR Ramses Barden did a bad job of it.  He also made an outstanding catch in traffic over CB Jayron Hosley on a pass from David Carr.

RB David Wilson made a leaping catch over the middle on a pass from QB Ryan Perrilloux.  RB D.J. Ware showed some speed on his hand offs and showed a nice spin move as well.  RB Andre Brown also showed some speed, along with making a few nice catches.

FB Henry Hynoski had two catches and showed some power running after the catch.  He has an enormous chest and shoulders.  He runs like a bull.  The catches that he made last year were not flukes.

Surprisingly, after all the knocks on Bear Pascoe in BBI, he made several nifty catches.  If he has the ability to get open, he could be a pass catching weapon.  I do not believe that TE Martellus Bennett was the target of any throws today.

QB Eli Manning looked sharp except for a pass that he appeared to throw directly to LB Michael Boley for an easy interception.  Maybe the target was WR Victor Cruz who made several nice receptions.  A much harder interception was made by LB Jake Muasau on a pass from Ryan Perrilloux to WR David Douglas.  The pass was either behind Douglas or high.  It bounced off his hands and into the air.  Jake made a diving grab for the turnover.

Rookie WR Brandon Collins made a nice catch of a Ryan Perrilloux pass by outfighting the DB.

Addendum:

Some observations are in order regarding yesterday’s practice–not based on what I saw yesterday, but on what I didn’t see.  I only just realized it.  Yesterday’s opening practice was impressively smooth.  The players knew what they were supposed to do and more importantly, they were able to do it.  It looked like what you would expect from a championship team, with smart and talented players filling the entire squad.

In past years, the first day of camp was often pretty ragged.  The areas where drastic improvements needed to made were painfully obvious.  I doubt that anyone will forget the shock of seeing Matt Dodge mess up half his punts on the first day of camp.

Yesterday was not ragged.  There were very few obvious mental errors, or error in execution.   There were no fumbled center snaps and no missed handoffs.  There were no muffed punt returns.  Linemen were not jumping offsides (with the sole exception of Rookie OT Matt McCants, who might have been fooled by QB David Carr’s excellent hard count).

Plays were well executed.  There was an end around play from QB Ryan Perrilloux to WR Julian Talley that was perfectly executed.  That type of play is usually a recipe for disaster in camp.  The same goes for the bubble screen that Ryan Perrilloux threw to WR Isaiah Stanback.  Nobody even fell down except for RB Andre Brown on a running play.  I’m guessing that he slipped making a cut.

There were no fights.  I heard no coaches yelling to players to get them properly positioned.  I saw no QBs instructing the RB where to stand in the backfield.  I did not see any coaches taking players aside to correct their mistakes.

There were no horribly thrown passes.  All of the passes were zipped and had little air under them.  In the past there were always one or two passes that fell untouched on a vacant patch of ground.  Most of the passes were made in rhythm.  That is, the QB takes the snap, drops back and throws the ball with little or no hesitation.  Although there were times when the QBs could not find an open receiver and would have been sacked, it was less frequent than usual.

I’m sure that much of the good passing is due to having three veteran QBs, who all have a good command of the playbook.  Also, this year there is no 4th QB in camp, whose only purpose is to take some of the passing load off the arms of the other QBs.

I saw no lumbering linemen with guts overtopping their belts, but more about that when I see the team in full pads.

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Aug 072011
 
 August 7, 2011  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
August 7, 2011 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Evening Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor UberAlias

The team had their pads on tonight and they had the refs there so they got in a lot of team work.

There was a pretty funny incident at the beginning of practice a fan walked by with a Tony Romo Jersey and got a lot of shouts from the fans. He was standing by the fence where the running backs were on the far side and they and took notice. Jacobs picked up a football and acted like he was going to whip it into the fence at him. The fans started egging him on and it looked to me like he was seriously considering doing it but his better judgment won out.

In the early drills they split up into a few groups and had the pass catchers and defensive backs working together on the main field. There were some good battles here but the biggest play was a 40 yarder from Eli Manning to Hakeem Nicks to beat Terrell Thomas and Kenny Phillips. Thomas had good coverage but it was an absolutely perfect throw from #10.

One interesting observation here. I was wondering where Phillips was since I did not see him at all in this drill. I was worried he may have been injured at first but then realized that he was over working with the linebackers. They have mentioned they wanted to protect Phillips last year but clearly intend to have him working up in the box this year and believe he can be a real difference maker for them in that role. This team needs a physical presence in the back 7 and would love to see KP step up. Recall the Pittsburgh game his rookie year.

The team ran a lot of three wide receiver sets that saw Domenik Hixon and Hakeem Nicks on the outside and Mario Manningham in the slot.

I watched the LBs for a bit. Clint Sintim made a play from the far side of the field to make a stop of RB Da’Rel Scott close to the line of scrimmage. Jon Goff has impressed me. I think he’s a lock to retain his starting spot and think he’s going to be a solid middle linebacker for us this year. Overall there is some good potential in this group and I am very anxious to see them in live action next week.

Terrell Thomas is getting a lot of work covering the slot and they have him doing double duty as a starter with the 1s but also getting extra work with the 2s and 3s covering the slot receiver and rotating with Aaron Ross.

A few guys who looked good today were safety Tyler Sash who had a couple of stops and batted down one of Eli’s passes. They seem to be gaining confidence in the kid and have him seeing some action as the 3rd safety with the 1s.

A guy who has surprised me and having a pretty good camp after showing disappointingly little last year is wide receiver Darius Reynaud. He flashes some good quickness and has looked pretty good in both returns and as a wideout.

But the guy who really jumped out at me tonight was halfback Andre Brown who was impressive both running and catching the ball out of the backfield and just seemed to be working at a different speed than everyone else.

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Aug 062011
 
 August 6, 2011  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
August 5, 2011 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Evening Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor TRJoe

Here are some quick hits from last night’s practice,

We got there about 35-40 minutes early, with a pretty good crowd already there watching Lawrence Tynes kicking field goals. Zak DeOssie long snapping, Sage Rosenfels holding, and Tynes hit about 5 or 6 straight from what looked like pretty good distance. Steve Weatherford then stepped in to take snaps from DeOssie, with Dodge looking on.

After the specialists went back inside, there was about a 20 minute wait until the team emerges from the Timex Center. The first group of players, led by Eli, come out to a nice ovation from the crowd in the bleachers in front of the main practice field.

Kick return drills are up on the main practice field, with Jerrel Jernigan, D.J. Ware, Devin Thomas and Darius Reynaud getting reps bringing kicks back. Domenik Hixon is grouped with the returners, but I do not think he actually fielded one. Jernigan looked very fluid, as did Reynaud. Ware dropped one during his reps.

The rest of the team emerges from the Timex Center and the full team then goes through their calisthenics before breaking up into individual positional drills.

We were in the bleachers on the far field, so we were limited to which drills we saw, which were mostly defensive back drills.

The first group in front of us were the safeties. Their first drill was to read the ball with a coach moving it from side to side, then to go and grab the INT once Safeties Coach David Merritt lofted the ball into the air. Antrel Rolle went first, Kenny Phillips second, then the rest of the safeties. They did this a few more times but from a different hash mark. Provided they stay healthy, I think we can expect big things this year from Phillips and Rolle.

The next group up in front of us were the CBs, who essentially did the same drill, but they were paired up (Corey Webster/Terrell Thomas, Aaron Ross with another CB, etc), with Cornersbacks Coach Peter Giunta and Lawrence Tynes tossing them the passes. Webster and Thomas caught everything thrown their way, as did Ross. Prince Amukamara was in one of the lower groups and dropped his first pass. Maybe he was nervous for his first practice, but then he rebounded and caught the rest. Recently signed Darnell Burks, wearing #41 (bringing back unpleasant Dave Thomas memories) was the odd man out and had to do the drill by himself. What I noticed the most here was that Corey Webster is a real leader, especially among the CBs, encouraging and talking up all of his position-mates, even Burks.

The next drill was the full back seven jogging thru different coverage schemes. It looked like it was focused on the nickel D as Thomas was playing the Deon Grant role from last season, and Ross was playing as the 3rd CB. Other starters were Michael Boley, Jonathan Goff (I believe it was him), Webster, Phillips, and Rolle. This consisted of the backup DBs/LBs running offensive pass patterns and the defense adjusting and executing their coverages based on the O. They marched down the field in this drill, in an effort to walk through different coverages based on down and distance. During this time the backups also got a chance on defense, including Mark Herzlich, Tyler Sash, Brian Jackson, and Brian Witherspoon.

The next drill on this field was one on one pass drills between the RBs/TEs and LBs/DBs, with the backup QBs throwing the passes. Some notable plays here were Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw making clean catches up the sideline, and Bradshaw acknowledging the fans on the fence welcoming him back with a little wave and nod of the head. Sash had a pick here, and Bear Pascoe and Henry Hynoski also had a couple catches, as did Travis Beckum on a deeper ball down the far sideline. On Beckum’s reception, the DB covering him, Cary Harris, fell to the ground with what looked like some type of shoulder injury. He was laying prone on the ground for a few minutes, grabbing his right arm. When the trainers came over to attend it looked like they were trying to pop his shoulder back into place.

After this, it was time for full-team workouts on the main field, which the beat writers covered in their reports. We walked over to get a better view, but the majority of the crowd was over there and it was tough to see everything.

Standouts from the drills I was able to see were Corey Webster, Rolle, and Sash. I was really impressed with Webster’s leadership, and obviously his CB prowess as well.

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Aug 012011
 
 August 1, 2011  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
July 31, 2011 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Evening Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor UberAlias

I thought tonight’s crowd may have been a little bigger, so that was nice to see.

Yesterday I mentioned they did the full team drills on the far field and that it was a bit hard to see. Well tonight they did the team work on the near field, and boy, what a difference it makes – they are right there in front of you.

The defense today clearly had the upper hand. The defense nearly always wins the early camp match ups, so this is not a concern, but there was definitely also some sloppiness with the offense tonight, such as a drop by an open Travis Beckum on what looked like it should have been an easy catch and also a botched snap between Snee to Sage.

A few observations from the defensive team work: During walk thrus I saw a lot of Rolle lining up deep with Kenny Phillips playing up in the box (not sure if it was the strong or weak side). I could easily be wrong here, but I seem to have the impression  those roles may have often been the other way around last year (perhaps to protect Kenny Phillips’ knee), so this ~ might ~ be an adjustment.

They did a series of alignments where there was one guy laying back where normally the deep safety would be, but it was not a safety. For the starters it was Terrell Thomas and for the second unit it was Ross.

In the series with the starters, the defense really shut down the O in 11 on 11s. The first snap was a mid range pass play where Thomas picked off Eli and it did not get much better from there.

Some will be happy to hear this but I think it was the second play that was a Ware run that was shut down by the D. What was notable was that three defensive coaches gave a big ‘at-a-boy to Sintim, who I believe shut it down at the line. Phillips got a similar response from the coaches a play or two latter. One play that looked like it might have had some promise for the offense was a bootleg that got Beckum open in the flat but resulted in the drop I mentioned earlier.

In addition to the pick, Terrell Thomas also had a nice pass defense down field, but I can’t remember who was the target (Manningham or Cruz, I think). He seemed to have a good day except for one play during red zone work I’ll mention in second.

The last play of 11 on 11s was one of the only ones that looked good for the O with Ware having a nice run that may have been about an eight yard gain.

The clear highlight of the night came on the first play of their red (“green”) zone work. Terrell Thomas had what looked to be pretty good coverage on Nicks with Phillips on his way over for support, but it was a perfectly thrown ball and Nicks is just so good with his positioning and made a beautiful catch for a TD.

In this series,Hixon also made a nice catch to put the ball inside the five. Offensively I would say Hixon followed up a good showing with another solid one today and looked strong on returns as well. This is not a super star by any stretch, but make no mistake about it, having this guy back is clearly going to make this team better.

Another guy picking up from yesterday’s work out is Hynoski who continues to impress me with how fluid and comfortable he looks catching the ball. You get the idea I like this kid and he is seeing a lot of reps.

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Jul 312011
 
 July 31, 2011  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
July 30, 2011 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Evening Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor UberAlias

For starters, don’t expect the detailed fan reports you did in Albany unless the team changes fields for the team activities. The fan area is all on one side and there is a near field and a far field. Fans had a good perspective on the close stuff, but they ran team activities on the far field and it was hard to make out much. They added bleachers, which helped, but even from the top row, which was where I sat, it was hard to make out much when they were on the far side. This was my experience at least. The beat guys were up close as they were in Albany, so they can probably give you better report.

Anyways, here are a few observations I was able to make:

I was glad to read Devin Thomas get a call out in a report or two. He had one poor drop in a drill, but did catch my eye. He looked good out there.

After missing a year, Hixon looked like Hixon. He looked sharp, as he has in previous camps. With the 3rd WR spot open for grabs, it should be fun following Hixon, Thomas, and Cruz compete for this. And I say that knowing full well that none of the three are locks to make the final roster.

You could see Da’Rel Scott’s long speed. I could not see how he moves in the closed in space (too many bodies in the way), but that breakaway speed he’s noted for is apparent. It was reported during the offseason stuff that this kid plans to work and I noted some of that. I saw him putting in effort down field blocking at the point when most guys have relaxed their efforts for the play.

Here’s one the college guys already knew: Hynoski has hands.

Snee at Center was interesting. Obviously Baas being out was the key reason, but I’m curious if that would have been the arrangement if Koets was able to work.

Brewer is a big boy (we know this).

Beckum is such a huge contrast out there with the other TEs in terms of size and movement.

I wish I had some observations on the defensive guys, but was not able to see much. I tried to single out Kenny Phillips a few times during team drills but nothing that involved him. I was just glad to see him in for all reps and did not observe any limitations or anything.

Ross had the one pick. He’s an intriguing player in this CB mix and I’m glad we have him. He ran to Rolle and they did a jumping chest bump after the play and looked like he forgot he was still supposed to be in there and ran back on the field just in time for the next play. I got a kick out of that.

I did not stick around for the autographs but they were organizing an area for that, so good to see we’ll have that.

It was no where near as crowded as I had suspected. This was great for the experience, but would liked to have seen some serious fan support. I can’t help but to think Philly Dallas and Washington, even our neighboring Jets, would have had stronger showing. Giants football is back folks!

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Aug 182010
 
 August 18, 2010  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
August 18, 2010 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Afternoon Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany

Manning and Sorgi Watch as Bomar Solos

This is my final report of 2010. Training camp was a week shorter than last year. The shorter length of training camp, combined with injuries to so many players means that significant team changes will happen between now and the start of the season, so let’s not jump to any hasty conclusions. Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

This is my tenth year posting camp reports. As with last year, it is uncertain if the Giants will return to Albany. In case they don’t, I want to thank everyone who has read and enjoyed my camp reports (as well as those who have not, but have refrained from calling me names). Providing BBIers with both enjoyment and information that may not be available elsewhere has always been my goal and it has always been a source of great satisfaction for me.

Today’s Practice:

The Giants were in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts on this overcast 80 degree day. QB Rhett Bomar was the only quarterback dressed. QB Eli Manning was wearing a baseball cap. As far as I could tell, there were no bandages or gauze showing. He threw one or two passes, and warmed up with the team, but that was all. QB Jim Sorgi took quite a beating in the Jets game so I am not surprised that he got the day off.

I guess, if you are a third string QB, you dream of days like today. QB Rhett Bomar did all the passing in the offensive drills, the 7 on 7s, and the 11 on 11s. Frankly, I thought that he looked about the same as he usually looks in practice. He made some good throws and some poor ones which got tipped and intercepted.

It was good to see TEs Kevin Boss and Travis Beckum dressed, as were WRs Steve Smith, Tim Brown, and Sinorice Moss.

Boss is probably not 100 percent healthy yet, nor WR Mario Manningham, who looks a bit gimpy. Nevertheless, Mario and Bomar hooked up on a wonderful timing pass with Mario making a great move to get wide open for a TD. Mario also made one of his patented catches where the ball bounced off his (or someone else’s) hands in traffic, then bounced off a defender, and finally bounced back to Mario for a reception.

I was also glad to see WR Steve Smith make a nice athletic leaping catch. I looked for OG Chris Snee, but I don’t believe that he was on the field today.

There were kickoff returns and WR Victor Cruz participated in them as well as in the punt returns.

Speaking of punts, P Matt Dodge had a practice that he’d like to forget. Usually he has a mix of great and not so great punts. Today, all of his punts looked like the low, short punts that he made in the Jets game. He needs to find his swing, and fast.

In the 11 on 11s LB Jonathan Goff got an interception. There were completions to HB Gartrell Johnson, FB Madison Hedgecock, and TE Travis Beckum. Beckum looks as smooth as ever running and catching the ball. DE Jason Pierre-Paul continued his good play by swatting away an attempted pass.

In the 7 on 7s, CB Corey Webster made a fine pass defense on a ball intended for WR Hakeem Nicks, and CB Terrell Thomas swatted away a ball as well. WR Victor Cruz had a few catches, the best of which was a side line catch defended by CB Bruce Johnson. CB Seth Williams made an excellent defense of a pass intended for WR Derek Hagan.

Back in the 11 on 11s, WR Duke Calhoun made a fine deep diving catch, and LB Jonathan Goff got his second interception of the afternoon when Bomar’s pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage, possibly by DE Justin Tuck. That concludes today’s camp report.

As I have done in prior years, here are some overall evaluations of training camp:

The 2010 Draft Choices:

First Round – DE Jason Pierre-Paul, South Florida: JPP is big, quick, fast, and athletic. In terms of potential, the proverbial “sky is the limit.” We are told that he is working hard to learn the defensive scheme, but (and this applies to all linemen) training camp is not the best place to evaluate Jason. It is better to study his play in the preseason games.

Conventional wisdom says that it might take awhile, perhaps more than a season, before we know if Jason is quality NFL material because his playing time will be limited and that he will be playing behind Kiwi, Osi, and Tuck. If Jason is quick to develop, there will be less pressure on the Giants to retain the services of all three of those veteran DEs.

Modern history differs from conventional wisdom. Last year our defensive line was “stacked.” All the experts said so, and they were wrong. On Monday night Jason had a sack against the Jets’ starters. It was the only sack of the game. Our vaunted veterans put very little pressure on the Jets QB and got pushed around by their offensive line. Jason’s good health, speed and strength may see him playing a major role much more quickly than anyone has imagined. If Jason continues to make one sack a game, he’ll do just fine.

Before a player can get to the highest level, he needs experience. When I say experience, I mean getting schooled by savvy opponents rather than learning from coaches or film study. As mentioned above, the veteran DEs on the Giants’ roster may or may not limit how fast Jason gets that experience. Jason is not nearly as good as he is going to be, or as good as he needs to be.

Second Round – DT Linval Joseph, East Carolina:
He’s a VLT- a very large tackle. In camp he has shown quickness and speed belying his 320 pounds. Drafting a DT in the second round was no doubt inspired by last season’s nearly total meltdown of our defensive line due to injuries. Pretty much everything I said about JPP’s development in terms of time and experience also applies to Joseph. Like his draft-mate JPP, Linval played well against the Jets with four tackles and some good penetration. At this point, there is reason to be optimistic about Joseph’s future in the NFL.

Third Round – S Chad Jones, LSU: Chad was drafted to shore up an ineffective safeties squad that was depleted by S Kenny Phillips’ knee injury. A serious car accident put Chad in the hospital. Chad will need surgeries and long-term rehab. At this point, his football career is very much in doubt. We all wish Chad a normal and healthy life, even if football is no longer a part of it.

Fourth Round – LB Phillip Dillard, Nebraska: The departure of Antonio Pierce left a large void at the Mike LB position with no heir apparent to fill it. There was (and still is) a dire need for a first rate middle linebacker. Drafting one in the first round might have been a good idea, but there would be no guarantee that a rookie, even a first round pick, could start from day one. This became a moot point when no worthy MLB prospect was available when it was the Giants’ turn to draft in the first round. Instead of “reaching” for a LB, the Giants picked the best player available (JPP). At that point it became clear that the Giants would either make due with the veteran LBs already on the team, or try to acquire another veteran LB.

Eventually Dillard was drafted and we were told that he would compete for the starting Mike position. While fourth round rookies seldom become immediate starters, the veterans on the Giants had hardly set the world on fire. In camp, Dillard has gotten praise for his dedication to training and his desire to be a team leader. He is quickly picking up the defensive scheme and he has the on-field smarts to make the calls needed to set up the defense.

The problem for Dillard is that a linebacker’s career really depends on how fast he can get to the ball carrier and tackle him. Since there is no live tackling in training camp, it is impossible to know if Dillard is our savior, or just another average player that his fourth round draft status tends to suggest. He will get a chance to shine in the preseason games, but until then, he remains a reserve. He is behind newly acquired veteran Keith Bulluck and current starter Jonathan Goff.

Fifth Round – OG Mitch Petrus, Arkansas: The Giants offensive line is not getting any younger and they have had their share of injuries. A backup center was probably the position of greatest need on the offensive line, but it turned out that Guard was the position with the best player available. At this point you may want to refer to the beginning of my August 1, Camp Report wherein I “thanked” Jerry Reese and Tom Coughlin for drafting so many linemen who would remain total mysteries in training camp.

Mitch has all the measurable to be an NFL lineman, but there are very few linemen like David Diehl, who come in and play at a high level from day one. We will have to wait until the real games begin before we know what we have in Mitch Petrus. Last year, there might have been some doubt about Mitch making the squad. The recent injury to veteran OG Kevin Boothe, seems to insure that Mitch will make the Giants roster. With our two starting guards too nicked up to play against the Jets, Mitch’s presence came in handy.

Sixth Round – LB Adrian Tracy, William & Mary: Adrian started 47 games at LDE in college. The Giants drafted him to be a Sam linebacker. There is a considerable difference between those positions and that complicates his making the team. According to DE Mathias Kiwanuka, Adrian is very rapidly picking up the defensive scheme and if he makes the roster he is likely to back up LB Clint Sintim.

In camp, Adrian has shown speed, agility, and coordination. He has also made a play or two at linebacker. As with LB Phillip Dillard, Tracy’s status on the Giants will be determined by his ability to cover and tackle in the preseason games. The Giants are very thin in talent at the linebacker position. They may not have the luxury of letting Tracy watch and learn from the bench until he is able to pull his own weight. He may end up on the practice squad. However, if he does make the roster, we can all yell, “Yo! Adrian!”

Seventh Round – P Matt Dodge, East Carolina: Dodge was drafted because at 43 years of age, veteran punter Jeff Feagles could no longer meet the physical demands of playing football. The soon to be “legendary” Feagles was classy enough to come to Albany and shepherd Dodge into the world of NFL punting, especially directional punting.

Dodge has an impressively strong leg, and impressively muscular arms as well. He looks like a football player. When camp started it was very clear that Dodge was struggling to handle the snaps cleanly. He was not consistent in where he held the ball when he kicked it and he lacked rhythm. The good news is that when he kicks the ball properly, they are high and deep spirals that turn over at the top of their arc and bore into the wind.

Although he is not yet consistent enough, it appears that under Jeff Feagles’ tutelage, Dodge is becoming more consistent with every practice. Dodge is handling LS Zak DeOssie’s snaps much more cleanly and kicking with more rhythm in practice. Dodge has also replaced Jeff Feagles as the holder for field goals. Dodge has done an excellent job as holder and has received praise from K Lawrence Tynes.

Dodge had a dismal game against the Jets averaging just 37 yards. One of his punts was blocked (not his fault) and the others were low and short. Nevertheless, the punts were not disastrous for the Giants because Dodge’s low punts generally result in a long forward roll and that is what happened against the Jets. If Dodge does not have a marked improvement in the next game, the Giants will probably be watching the waiver wire for his replacement. As with Adrian Tracy, the Giants don’t have the luxury of waiting for Dodge to develop. They need him to produce immediately.

Last Year’s Rookies:

WR Hakeem Nicks: You know what they say, “big hands…big…plays.” If ever a first rounder lived up to the hype and hopes for him, it was Hakeem Nicks. He is now a starter and the receiver most likely to turn a short pass into a TD. Nobody mistakenly calls him “Hicks” anymore because everyone knows who he is and what he can do with those big hands. As a part-time starter last year, he caught 47 balls for almost 800 yards, including 6 TDs.

How has he looked in camp? Better than ever. He has enough strength to out-fight a defender for the ball, or to break a tackle for extra yardage. He is usually in a good position to make a catch, but he has made catches when he was out of position and he has made them look easy. If WR Steve Smith is our most prolific receiver, Nick is our most dangerous one. The only thing that will hold him back are injury issues. He has been limited to one practice a day. Hopefully, his rehab will be complete prior to the start of the season.

LB Clint Sintim: A big and athletic player, he was a reserve last year and somewhat of a disappointment. It was hoped that he would make more plays last year even in his limited time on the field. Clint played in a 3-4 defense in college and needs to adjust to the Giants 4-3. Frankly, I am always astonished when a player comes out of college and fits right into the NFL style of play. At least so far, the Giants have shown confidence in Clint. The starting SAM linebacker position is Clint’s to lose. He is backed up only by rookie 6th rounder Adrian Tracy.

Sintim recorded no tackles in the Jets game and Adrian Tracy had only one assist. On the bright side, only 3 of the Jets’ 29 completions were to their TEs, so maybe our SAM coverage was good.

LT William Beatty: Another second round pick, Beatty has played well enough as a rookie, for the Giants to consider starting him at LT, the premier job on the offensive line. Clearly, he is a better tackle than veterans Guy Whimper and Adam Koets. They are currently filling in at guard and center, respectively. Beatty will need some outstanding performances in the preseason or regular season before the Giants will allow him to protect QB Eli Manning’s blind side. That would result in Dave Diehl shifting to LG and the current LG, Rich Seubert, becoming a reserve.

Against the Jets, Beatty allowed no sacks, but he did not plow defenders out of the way either. I imagine that this experiment will be continued in the next game.

WR Ramses Barden: I raved about Barden last year and I continue to rave about the way he has performed in camp this year. At first, I though it was foolish to expect him to replace Plaxico Burress. I’ve changed my mind about that. Barden is 6’6″ and 227. He is not designed for making gymnastic catches, but he has made them in training camp. When he is on the field with WR Hakeem Nicks and WR Steve Smith, they will draw the most attention from the defense leaving Barden in single coverage and almost certainly with a size mismatch.

He has huge hands, a very powerful build, and long muscular arms. He has a smooth running style that helps his balance and body control. It allows him to see the ball well and get into a good position to catch it. After the catch, he can pivot much more quickly than you would expect from a man his size.

Putting a 5-10 defender on him is almost like cruelty to animals. He can out-leap defenders and he can come back towards the QB and make a “shield” catch by putting his body between the ball and defender. Barden has the size to make it nearly impossible for him to be covered by a single small DB. He has the strength to make yards after a catch by running through tackles or dragging DBs along with him. It may not happen immediately, but it will happen.

However, do not expect the Giants to give Ramses a starting spot just on my say-so. Unless he has some superb preseason games, he will start the season as the fourth receiver behind WR Mario Manningham who had 57 receptions for more than 800 yards last season.

TE Travis Beckum: Travis has been injured and has played very little in camp this year. He is a talented receiver, but he never got incorporated into the Giants offense. Last year the Giants had a boatload of draft picks and I think that Travis was drafted as insurance against Nicks, Barden, Smith, and Manningham not panning out as WRs. Fortunately for the Giants, but unfortunately for Travis, those four WRs played so well that he was relegated to blocking TE – a role for which he is unsuited.

Travis is perhaps 240 pounds. He is not a good enough blocker to fill the traditional second TE role. As a result, he got very little playing time last season. He has been injured in camp and it is uncertain if his blocking has improved. While he is very likely to remain with the Giants this year, it is not yet clear how the Giants intend to take advantage of Beckum’s receiving talents without being harmed by his shortcomings as a blocker.

HB Andre Brown: For all intents and purposes, Andre is still a rookie. Last year at this time he was running down field for a pass and tore his Achilles’ tendon. Up until that point, he was having a very good camp, showing elusiveness and power to go along with his receiving skills. He is probably the best receiver of the Giants’ running backs.

Most people doubted that Andre, or anyone else, could return to football from an Achilles’ tendon injury, but here he is looking pretty much the same as last year. He runs, he cuts, he catches the ball, he drives into defenders. In Andre’s case, being back where he started is a good thing.

Andre needs to prove that his repaired Achilles’ tendon can withstand actual game conditions. Before he can be considered a lock to make the Giants roster, he also needs to show that he can gain yardage against a real opponent, not just look good in practice. Against the Jets, he gained some yardage against their scrubs and returned three kicks for reasonable yardage. He also missed a tackle which resulted in Matt Dodge’s punt being blocked.

Last September, the Giants acquired HB Gartrell Johnson to fill Andre’s slot. Gartrell is about the same size as Andre. He is a more powerful inside runner, who has excellent balance. He is not as elusive, or nearly as good a receiver as Brown. At this point Johnson is behind Brown and is the fifth running back.

For all of his short-comings, Gartrell is a known quantity. He has shown that can stay in the backfield and pass protect. The Giants could go with either four or five RBs, but Gartrell will certainly remain a Giant until it is certain that Brown is fully healed and that he can pass protect.

QB Rhett Bomar: Last season Rhett was far behind back-up QB David Carr and was not ready to play at an NFL level. The Giants risked putting him on the practice squad and kept only QBs Carr and Manning on the roster. The Giants’ gamble paid off and Rhett is back for another try at making the team. In camp, Rhett has a strong arm and a quick release. He is usually accurate. He is playing better than he did last year, but he still hesitates when looking for receivers and still makes some poor decisions in camp.

The preseason games will provide Rhett with ample opportunities to show what he can do. He will get much more playing time than last year, because this year the Giants have three QBs in camp instead of the four that they had last year. Can Rhett show the Giants that he is too valuable to risk losing off the practice squad? Rhett may have done just that on Monday night against the Jets.

He completed six of seven passes, threw for a TD, and scrambled 23 yards for an important first down when he saw that the defensive coverage would allow it. What impressed me most was that when the Jets defense went into an overload formation that the Giants were not prepared for, Rhett diagnosed the problem in time to call a time out. He then came back with the answer. I’m not sending Rhett to Canton just yet, but I think he has earned a longer look from the Giants.

The Rest of the Team:

QB Eli Manning: Manning’s arm looks just fine in camp. How far he can take the Giants depends on whether the Giants can run the ball on offense. The Giants receivers are developing nicely, but health issues for the offensive line and tight ends, could derail the Giants.

QB Jim Sorgi: He has performed well in camp. His arm may not be as strong as Manning’s or Bomar’s, but he is smart and gutsy and his throws are accurate enough.

HB Brandon Jacobs: He has shown speed and cutting ability in camp. He has also caught the ball well. If Brandon does not do well, it will not be because he lacks speed, strength, or desire, but because he uses poor technique or poor judgment.

HB Ahmad Bradshaw: He has looked healthy in camp and his 50 yard catch and run against the Jets shows why he is now the starting RB.

HB D.J. Ware: He can do it all. He has size, speed, strength, and receiving skills. He returns kicks. In my opinion, there is a significant gap between him and Andre Brown and Gartrell Johnson.

WR Derek Hagan: He has played well in camp. He is a very consistent receiver in terms of getting open and not dropping catchable passes.

WRs Mario Manningham and WR Steve Smith: Hopefully they will be healthier when the season starts. There was no reason for either of them to kill himself in training camp.

WR Victor Cruz: He has good hands, a decent amount of speed, and can make yards after the catch. He made some fine catches in camp, but he had the good fortune to shine in the Jets game. He had 6 catches for 145 yards, Jets, including 3 TDs. I still want to see more from him before I jump on his bandwagon. In camp, there were a fair number of balls thrown his way that he failed to catch. Maybe they were just bad throws by the QBs; maybe not.

In the long run, it is not circus catches that win football games, it is pitch and catch. The top receivers get open consistently. When they do, accurate and well-timed throws from the QB result in a multitude of routine, yet unstoppable catches and an annual invitation to the Pro Bowl. When Cruz makes a few catches in the first half of a preseason game, then I’ll become a believer. Cruz also caught a punt against the Jets. That can only help his cause. If Victor has the talent for returning punts, it could signal the end of Sinorice Moss’ career as a Giant.

Sinorice Moss: Sinorice is a tough, speedy, hardworking, and thoroughly decent guy, who is on the wrong team. He has spent a lot of time on the bench because of injuries and this year was no exception as he sat out the Jets game.

Every year I write that Sinorice should be replaced. My suggested replacement is usually someone who is six or eight inches taller. This year it is Victor Cruz who is three inches taller at 5-11 rather than the 6-1 the Giants list him at. My reason is always the same: Eli Manning has trouble connecting with short receivers like Sinorice. Even if that is Eli’s fault, Eli is not going anywhere. Last season, QB David Carr had no trouble finding Sinorice in traffic. In one preseason game last year, they hooked up for two TD receptions. Carr is now with the 49ers. Perhaps Sinorice should go West to find his fortune.

WR Tim Brown: He has flashed in camp with his great moves and speed as a punt returner, but his injury may be his undoing. Tiny Tim at 5-7 (or less) 165, also suffers from the short receiver syndrome that afflicts Sinorice Moss.

WR Duke Calhoun & WR Nyan Boateng: They are both swift and rangy. They have shown good receiving talent in camp, but they are playing behind a very good group of receivers. If they have a good game or two in the preseason, they might catch on with another team, but they have little chance of making our roster.

TEs Bear Pascoe, Scott Chandler, Jake Ballard: In camp, Pascoe and Chandler both looked good as receivers. They got open and caught the catches that they were supposed to make. They are close enough in their receiving skills to warrant keeping the better blocker to join TEs Kevin Boss and Travis Beckum on the roster. Ballard has shown very little.

FB Jerome Johnson: If he can block, he is going to make some NFL team very happy. Although he is probably the best receiving Giants FB since Charles Way, the Giants will keep only one FB and that will be Madison Hedgecock.

CBs Terrell Thomas, Corey Webster, andAaron Ross. The only thing that will stop these guys is health. They have all looked great in camp and CB Bruce Johnson is not very far behind them.

CBs D.J. Johnson, Courtney Brown, and Seth Williams: D.J. Johnson has had a brutal camp allowing reception after reception. In the Jets game, Santonio Holmes took him to school. D.J. also intercepted an inaccurate pass, but it did appear that the receiver (who was not Holmes) had still beaten him on the route.

Between Seth and Courtney, I would give the edge to Seth who had more good plays in camp. However, against the Jets, it looks like Courtney got into the game ahead of Seth. Courtney is taller and 20 pounds heavier than Seth. This might make him more effective in run support and on special teams.

Safeties Sha’reff Rashad, Michael Greco, and John Busing: Rashad has made more plays than Greco in camp and he had an interception against the Jets at the end of the game. Busing is a newcomer and I have not seen much of him. As with the young CBs above, Greco and Busing are about twenty pounds heavier than Rashad. That may be significant.

As of now, the first and second team safeties are S Antrel Rolle, S Deon Grant, S Kenny Phillips, and S Michael Johnson. With Phillips still recovering from micro-fracture surgery, and Michael Johnson dinged up, the Giants may want to keep five safeties and four cornerbacks instead of the other way around. John Busing has the reputation of being a very good special teams player. That may give him an advantage in making the roster.

Linebackers: It may take a few games before LB Michael Boley gets accustomed to DC Perry Fewell’s defense and the same goes for LB Keith Bulluck. Bulluck wins the “most ripped Giant” contest. I don’t think there is an ounce of fat on him. Keith has an “8 pack” where DT Rocky Bernard has a keg. In camp, Bulluck has shown that he is fast and quick. We know that they both can play, but when will Keith Bulluck get healthy enough to play and will Michael Boley stay healthy for an entire season?

The Giants are very thin at LB and there is not much talent to back these guys up if they can’t play. I am concerned that our linebacking squad will consist of capable starters who are not healthy and reserves who are mediocre.

My prediction for the 2010 Giants: They will go as far as their health will take them.

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Aug 142010
 
 August 14, 2010  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
August 14, 2010 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Afternoon Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany

Largest Crowd of Training Camp Watches Giants Prep for Jets

It looks bad when so many players are injured and not dressed for a practice, so the Giants cleverly found a way to solve this problem: NOBODY was dressed. No shells; no nothing – just helmets, shorts, and jerseys. You could not tell who was hurt and who was healthy. They were all dressed the same. Well, except for LB Zak DeOssie, who was wearing shoulder pads under his jersey. I guess he didn’t get the memo.

The Giants, in a somewhat abbreviated session, walked through various plays. There was no contact, and to paraphrase some documentaries, “no players were harmed during the filming of this practice.” I guess that was the point. They want to avoid injuries.

I’m sure that what they did in the walk-through was important, but it would be hard to describe it as entertaining for the crowd. The fans just about filled up the SUNY Albany stadium and the space between the stadium and the field. At least the stadium provided some shade and seats for them on this hot sunny day.

The practice started off with a punting drill. With a following wind P Matt Dodge can kick it out of the stadium. He still lacks consistency, but he is improving in my opinion. CB Aaron Ross, S Antrel Rolle, and WR Victor Cruz were on the receiving end of the punts. There were no run-backs. There was a fake punt (I believe it was a direct snap) and LB Chase Blackburn ran with it for a first down. It must have been a first down, because Chase gave the first down signal afterwards.

There was an on-sides kick drill and K Lawrence Tynes made two perfect on-sides kicks.

The starting lineup for the Jets game appears to be LT William Beatty, LG David Diehl, C Shaun O’Hara, RG Guy Whimper, RT Kareem McKenzie. HB Ahmad Bradshaw will probably get the first carry. About an hour into the practice, OG Chris Snee walked off the field with a trainer. Snee is and intelligent guy. I would not be surprised if he just got bored standing around and wanted to get his 300 pounds out of the hot sun.

At the end of every practice, the Giants do ten minutes of stretching using heavy elastic bands. On this day, the stretching may have been more strenuous than the practice itself.

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Aug 132010
 
 August 13, 2010  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
August 13, 2010 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Evening Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany

Giants Prepare for Monday Night Game with Jets

The further we go into training camp, the harder this team is to read. There are so many players who are riding bicycles that the team lacks cohesion. In war, if your military can reduce an enemy unit below a certain percentage (I think it is about 70 percent, but don’t hold me to it) that unit will lose most of its effectiveness as a fighting unit. I suspect that the same principle applies to football. The Giants have so many players who are not dressed for practice, that I wonder about the Giants’ effectiveness as a team. Hopefully, we will get healthy before the season starts.

The Giant spent a good portion of the practice running plays that they expect the Jets to run on Monday night. Some of the defensive players wore a white doublet over their shirts and played on the offensive scout team. With so many Giants not playing, the Jets game might be more useful as a way to evaluate individual players than to evaluate the Giants as a team.

On this cool evening, some of the Giants were hot and others were not. K Lawrence Tynes was hot. He was 4 of 4 on field goals. I was not in position to see the first one, which was the shortest, but the others were from 35, 43, and 49 yards. He had either 2 or 3 kickoffs from the 30. Two went to the goal line and the other went through the end zone. The goal line kicks were definitely from the 30 yard line. The one through the end zone may have been from the 40.

I expect that HB Andre Brown will be returning kicks. There were about a dozen kickoffs and Brown caught them all. Brown also looked good taking a tossed handoff from QB Jim Sorgi and running the ball down the field.

LB Adrian Tracy was hot. He intercepted a deep pass from QB Rhett Bomar in the 11 on 11s. I could not tell if it was a bad pass, or if the receiver ran the wrong route. Speaking of running, DT Linval Joseph is a huge rookie, but he surprised me with how fast he could run fifteen yards from his three point stance. OG Rich Seubert was hot under the collar. He got into a shoving match, but I could not see who the other player was.

HB D.J. Ware and HB Ahmad Bradshaw were hot. Both caught some passes and both looked strong rushing the ball although the defense often stopped the ball carrier for no gain. That defense included S Kenny Phillips on numerous occasions. It was good to see Kenny on the field. He participated in all the drills, although it is clear that he is being carefully watched and brought along.

On the not so hot side of the ledger, P Matt Dodge did not have a great practice. When he had to perform in punting drills with the rest of the team, his kicks were not nearly as deep, high, or consistent as when he was off by himself practicing. Consistency will come with practice, but I worry about his performance under game pressure. It will be interesting to see how he deals with the pressure of a Jets rush.

CB D.J. Johnson continues to be the go-to DB when the quarterback needs to make a completion.

The best pass of the day was a deep QB Eli Manning pass to WR Ramses Barden against CB Seth Williams. Barden was in perfect position and he made the catch look easy catching it in stride. It would probably have gone for a TD. Barden, Hakeem Nicks, and Derek Hagan all looked good making catches.

There was a two minute drill at the end of practice that was handled by QB Jim Sorgi. He got the ball from about his own 40 to the twenty.

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Aug 102010
 
 August 10, 2010  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
August 10, 2010 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Afternoon Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany

Full Pads; Hot Afternoon Sun; It Shows

The intensity and the pace of the practice was a bit less than yesterday. The Giants were in full pads and the high temperature, strong sun, and lack of a breeze cannot have been very comfortable for the players. It certainly wasn’t comfortable for me.

As he did yesterday, WR Ramses Barden made the best reception of the practice. In the 11 on 11s he caught a long TD pass from QB Eli Manning while being covered by CB Bruce Johnson and S Antrel Rolle.

The next best thing that happened in practice was the return of S Kenny Phillips. I spoke to Jon Berger on the side lines. Jon is the Giants’ Senior Director of Football Information. He was happy about the return of Phillips, but cautioned that they are going slowly with him. I agreed that going slowly is the prudent thing to do. The NFL referees were back and they were standing right in front of us. I learned that they had thrown flags yesterday, but I just did failed to see them. I did see them call a holding penalty today.

Perhaps I have been a little too hard on the refs. In the 7 on 7s, the ball was thrown in the direction were I was standing. The receiver and defender came racing for it (thundering may be more accurate). The reception was made and the receiver also took a shot from the defender. This all happened about 7 or 8 feet in front of me. The referee was right there, too. With a big smile on his face and in a loud voice, he asked the people in the general vicinity, “Was the catch in or out?” I had no idea whether it was in or out. I was too busy watching my life flash in front of my eyes.

In addition to speaking with Jon Berger, I had the good fortune to strike up a conversation with a very nice gentleman, who was standing next to me on the side lines. It turns out that he knew the Chancellor of SUNY. In fact, he is the Chancellor’s husband. I immediately launched into a speech about how SUNY and the City of Albany could attract many more fans to training camp (increased tourism) if SUNY would provide better fan accommodations, such as shelter from the sun and rain, more toilets, easier access to the fields, and on and on.

He extremely gracious and he never once tried to stop me or disagree with what I said. Afterwards, I thanked him profusely for his kindness and his courtesy in allowing me to rant. For years, lack of fan accommodations at training camp had been a source of irritation for me and today I was finally able to get it all off my chest. Thank you again, sir.

WR Ramses Barden made several more catches and he made them look easy. That is a characteristic that he shares with WR Hakeem Nicks. Barden is a big guy, not just tall. After one catch he faked a step to his right and then reverse pivoted to his left to completely and impressively disengage himself from the defender and fly down the field. It was a move that you might expect from WR Mario Manningham or possibly Nicks, but you would not think that Barden could make that move.

The Giants continue to work on punts and P Matt Dodge continues to get help from Jeff Feagles, who was on the field with him. They had a drill where Matt punted from his own 35 yard line and the kicking team players tried to down the punt before it crossed the goal line. I had to smile because the Giants have almost never been able to make this play work regardless of who was punting, or how much they practiced it.

WR Tim Brown, CB Aaron Ross, and WR Mario Manningham returned punts. Brown had a fine run back and received cheers from the fans on the nearby hill. The punt return by Aaron Ross was even better, juking, twisting, and avoiding potential tacklers. He got an even bigger cheer.

In general, the defense was ahead of the offense today. Right from the start of the first set of 7 on 7s, with Eli Manning at QB, there was a pass defense by CB Aaron Ross followed by a P.D. by CB Bruce Johnson. When QB Jim Sorgi took over, there was a P.D. by CB Courtney Brown, followed by a P.D. by CB D.J. Johnson. It was good to see D.J. get a pass defense, but much of the offense today consisted of receivers beating him like a rented mule.

I was impressed by a fine touch pass from QB Jim Sorgi to WR Hakeem Nicks. Nicks was covered by LB Keith Bulluck. Nicks is going to catch that ball no matter who is defending him, but at least Bulluck was able to keep up with him going down the field. Nicks made other catches and looked good doing it.

S Michael Johnson made some plays today. He jumped a route to knock away a Sorgi pass to Nicks in the 7 on 7s, and he defended an Eli Manning pass intended for WR Ramses Barden in the 11 on 11s.

There was a red zone drill (and yes the coaches call it that) near the end of the practice. DE Justin Tuck batted away an Eli Manning pass. Eli then threw a TD pass to WR Derek Hagan in the corner of the end zone. Jim Sorgi followed this with a TD pass to WR Hakeem Nicks.

One of the coaches loudly chewed out OT William Beatty for blocking a rusher to the inside instead of to the outside. I’m guessing that Beatty will remember it for next time.

You may have noticed that much of my report involves good plays by already established players and you may be wondering how the lesser known players are doing. During this practice there were plenty of opportunities for these players to show what they can do. The problem is that their rate of success is not high enough to move up the team’s depth chart.

It is most obvious with receivers like WR Victor Cruz, WR Nyan Boateng, and WR Tim Brown (Sinorice Moss did not dress). On occasion they will make an outstanding play or two, but many other times they are a step away from making the catch, or they don’t hold onto the ball after a diving catch. Compare this to say, WR Derek Hagan, whom many consider to be on the bubble. If the ball is thrown to Derek, he is almost always going to catch it unless a defender physically prevents it. Cruz, Boateng, and Brown are not yet at Hagan’s level and it shows.

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Aug 092010
 
 August 9, 2010  Posted by  Articles, Training Camp
August 9, 2010 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Evening Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany

NFL Refs Attend a Spirited Practice

The practice began with a drill where the running backs were given footballs on a long rope. Actually, they were very sturdy elastic bands. One back would carry the ball and another back would anchor the other end of the band. In the case of HB Brandon Jacobs, it would be two backs anchoring the band. The backs were having a good time with this, but the blocking drill that followed it was even more fun.

Four backs were each given a thick pad about 18 inches square. They lined up about five yards apart and the remaining backs would carry the ball in one arm and forcefully run into the pad with their opposite shoulder. The players holding the pads were not shy about trying to give the runners a good pop with the pad as they ran past. HB Brandon Jacobs got a bit carried away and knocked HB Andre Brown about a foot in the air and clear off course.

Having lost all his momentum, Brown wanted to stop, but Jacobs was only the third guy in line so all the backs yelled at Brown until he went back and did the drill over again. In the drill and during the rest of the practice, Brown was using more leg drive than I had seen him use previously. A good sign.

During this drill and in some others I have heard players like Jacobs, CB Aaron Ross, and S Antrel Rolle screaming or roaring with impressive loudness and for no other reason than sheer exuberance. It reminded me of Whitman’s “I sound my barbaric YAWP over the roofs of the world.” In addition to “yawping,” there were confrontations between players this evening.

The team was in shoulder pads and shorts so the hitting was brisk. Players were flying to the ball, falling down, and knocking other players down. CB Bruce Johnson continues to pound receivers when he gets the chance. CB Courtney Brown and WR Nyan Boateng went after each other hissing and kicking at the line of scrimmage, and I believe it was HB Brandon Jacobs and S Deon Grant, who had to be separated to allow them to cool off.

Getting back to the more mundane parts of the practice, NFL referees were on the field during the practice. So far as I could tell, their presence was more ornamental than useful. If they made any calls at all, I did not see them.

Every year, the NFL sends a contingent of referees to training camp to update the team on the latest rules changes. The media (not including me) is usually invited to this potential snoozefest, so it is only my presumption that the rules update was why the refs were at the practice.

C Shaun O’Hara played in both the evening and morning practice sessions. That’s a good sign. WR Hakeem Nicks was back in action and looks to be better than ever when catching the ball. That’s another good sign.

P Matt Dodge punted about a dozen and a half times. CB Aaron Ross, WR Mario Manningham, and WR Tim Brown did the catching. Jeff Feagles was on the field today working with Dodge.

Dodge made some fine punts, but many were short. The good news is that the short punts generally rolled another fifteen to twenty yards. I believe that Dodge has plenty of leg strength and plenty of talent. He just needs to get more consistent.

In the field goal drill, K Lawrence Tynes missed his first two tries at 30 and 34 yards, but then made kicks of 36, 40, 42, 42, 45, and 47. There was no wind on this hot and muggy evening.

CB D.J. Johnson has been having a very poor camp. He has made very few plays and has allowed a multitude of receptions. If he does not improve in a hurry, I would say that he will be gone on the first cut.

On the other side of the coin, WR Ramses Barden had an excellent practice, including its best catch. In the 11 on 11s, he was covered perfectly by CB Aaron Ross, but Ramses just out-fought him for the ball. His height helped, but he had to make tumbling catch holding onto the ball with just one hand. Barden also caught an Eli Manning pass and put a move on S Michael Johnson making the defender miss him by about two yards.

Later on, Ross made up for the Barden catch by intercepting a QB Jim Sorgi pass intended for WR Victor Cruz.

DE Jason Pierre-Paul showed some speed and agility in what appeared to be coverage of WR Tim Brown on a pass play. Jason put his arm around Brown and if Jason had a pocket, he could have fit Brown into it. LB Keith Bulluck continues to show speed working with the second team defense. He put a nice hit on HB D.J. Ware on a running play.

In the 7 on 7s, CB Courtney Brown had a good pass defense on a Sorgi pass intended for WR Duke Calhoun, while CB Seth Williams had an easy interception of a QB Rhett Bomar pass intended for WR Tim Brown.

DE Mathias Kiwanuka swatted down an Eli pass at the line of scrimmage. Eli threw a touch pass to HB Ahmad Bradshaw over the middle. I’d like to see Eli complete a lot of touch passes.

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