Jul 282012
 
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July 28, 2012 New York Giants Training Camp Report

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor JohnF

“Pied Piper Autograph Day” Edition

The Mayor was dumb, and the Council stood
As if they were changed into blocks of wood,
Unable to move a step, or cry
To the children merrily skipping by.
—Could only follow with the eye
That joyous crowd at the Piper’s back.
But how the Mayor was on the rack,
And the wretched Council’s bosoms beat,
As the Piper turned from the High Street
To where the Weser rolled its waters
Right in the way of their sons and daughters!
However he turned from South to West,
And to Koppelberg Hill his steps addressed,
And after him the children pressed;
Great was the joy in every breast.
“He never can cross that mighty top!
He’s forced to let the piping drop,
And we shall see our children stop!”
When, lo, as they reached the mountain-side,
A wondrous portal opened wide,
As if a cavern was suddenly hollowed;
And the Piper advanced and the children followed,
And when all were in to the very last,
The door in the mountain side shut fast.”

- Robert Browning, “The Pied Piper of Hamelin”

They’re back at Giants camp today, though!

Day 2 of camp, and it’s Autograph Day! The parking lot was nearly full a full hour before camp was supposed to start (though, the players are on the field a 1/2 hour early anyway).

The day starts off gloomy, sort of like reading the Book of Job, or reading Ralph Vacchiano. Speaking of Ralph, here’s his latest gem:

And it makes me wonder why they’re here, risking the lost time, when they have a beautiful indoor practice facility back at the Meadowlands.

Yes they do, Ralph. That nice indoor facility where only reporters and VIP’s can view the team practice.

Of course.

Every year that the Giants have been in Albany, Ralph has complained about the team being here. The NY Press loves to invent reasons why the team will not come back, despite statements from the Owner (John Mara), the Coach (TC) and the Head of PR (Pat Hanlon).

I have a picture of the NY Press from today, when we had a bit of rain:

This team does not play in a dome, Ralph. This team is tough, like it’s coach, like it’s GM, like it’s Owner and the rest of the Front Office. They can go into Green Bay when the temperature feels like it’s 30 below and win.

They don’t bitch about where they play, or the conditions…that’s how you define a professional. And as we know, some of the press are professionals, and some aren’t.

On to what people want to hear about, though…the players!

Ok, today is not going to be a great weather day, it’s going to rain, so we come prepared (Giants umbrella, Large Coffee in our SB42 DD cup, Giants towel). Get to Dutch Quad parking lot, and it’s about full, so the attendance should be good today.

Practice is moved from the lower fields to the LaCross field (John Fallon Field), which is artificial turf, so the players should be safe. My feet are not, though, from all the walking around you have to do now, but that’s fine.

I pick a somewhat dry spot under a tree, behind the endzone (not the stands, which I should have gone to), but have to move out a bit to the right because of people standing in front of me. No problem!

The offense is on my end of the field, so I’ll be doing more with them this report. The QB’s are warming up; it looks like the first string today is Eli, Hynoski, Bradshaw, Bear, Cruz and Hixon, with the line (L-R) of Beatty, Boothe, Baas, Snee and Diehl. Second string has Carr at QB, with Cordle at center. Ryan Perrilloux at QB leads the 3rd string, with White at center, Randle at WR, and Wilson/Martinek at running back. TC runs people in and out, but on average you’ll see the same faces in the same string.

Horn sounds, and now the teams break up. The QB’s are on the sideline, working on center exchanges and shotgun snaps (Baas, Goodin, Boothe and White are the centers). On the main field, we start up with kickoff returns; the returners are Wilson, Randle and Jernigan. Jernigan looks much improved this year, he’s confident and attacks the ball, which is what good returners do.

Meanwhile, Nicks is chatting on the sideline with Corey and Antrel. I’m trying to figure out what they’re laughing about, so let me try my lip reading skills again (Caution, I’m not very good):

Nicks: Trel, you doing a t-shirt on “Where Austin’s Dreds At?”
Rolle: End of the day, you buy it, I’ll make it!!

Horn sounds.

Ok, sprinting happens and the crowd goes wild! I go, “hey, better you than me!”

The pop up tackling dummies come out again. They look like this:

The staff lines them up in 2 rows of 3 across. Then players (first 2, then 3 at the same time) go around the first dummy in their row, then strike the second dummy as they go by it.

Meanwhile, Beckum, Sintim, Canty and Nicks are doing leg lifts in the back of the endzone. No bikes here.

Oh, the defense is dong the same rotation drills I mentioned yesterday.

Horn.

Now it’s the WR’s concentrating on the pop up dummies. The QB’s are doing pitch and catch with the RB’s. The offensive line are doing stance drills on the sideline.

Speaking of the sideline, I see Tuck playing around with the “Ball on the Stick” (see yesterday’s report). Both Rogers and Bernard cast “lean and hungry look” when he does that (thanks, Bard!). Tuck then starts working on his golf swing with the Ball on the Stick. I hear rumbling in the background, but that’s probably Rogers stomach.

Horn sounds.

After a couple of handoffs (Eli to Bradshaw, Ryan to Wilson), the team splits up again. The QB’s are working on sprintout handoffs (technique is important here). The TE’s are using the Shield Pads (looks like a big seat cushion) to work on blocking techniques, and then work on ball safety (trying to knock the ball out of the other guy’s hands). The RB’s are working on ball safety drills with the balls that are attached to big rubber bands. The WR’s are working on catching the ball inbounds on sideline routes…the ball is aimed just before the sidelines, so you need to get your feet right to be in bounds.

Start to notice something? Ball safety and knocking the ball out of the other guy’s hands are be stressed on both sides of the ball.

The WR’s and DB’s now work 1 on 1 (both working on press coverage), while the QB’s are working on curl passes to the RB’s.

Now we have 2 QB’s tossing the ball, one short pass and one long pass. Cruz with a very nice sidelines catch that gets the crowd going. Jernigan with an nice fingertip catch. DePalma with a very nice over the shoulder catch. Bennett shows up with a nice smooth catch.

Horn.

Water Break, then the D and O split off to opposite sides of the field. The Defense is working on position drills, the Offense is working on hand off drills. Then the Offense is running pass routes. Eli a post to Cruz in the endzone, then Bear drops a flag route on the right. Bennett does not drop a flag route to the left.

Horn.

The Offense is going up against the Defense (no pads, though). Eli starts it off with a sack (not a real sack, they just call the play off when he can’t find someone open).

Eli to Ware for a left tackle run. Handoff to Bradshaw for a run up the middle; Play action reverse pivot to Bear. Eli hands off to Ware, left tackle run, then a play-action to Cruz from the slot up the middle. (Crowd goes CRUUUUZE!).

Eli with a play action to Jernigan on the left sideline…nice catch. Then handoff to Brown for an off tackle run. Dump-off to Hopkins up the middle.

Time to get the Carr started, so Carr hands off to Brown for a left tackle run (nice burst of speed). Wilson with a run up to middle (bit of a slip at first, but he recovers). Then handoff to Brown for a left tackle run. Did Austin run Carr out of bounds on the right sideline? I think he did with a nice burst of speed.

Perrilloux comes in at QB, then hands off to Wilson for a right tackle run. Then handoff to Brown for a run up the left side. Wow, Wilson with a 2 cut run up the middle! This guy has quick feet! Perrilloux looks both ways, then throws the ball out of bounds. Overthrows Martinek, who was tightly covered. Martinek takes a handoff and races down the left side will a nice burst. Purvis drops a pass.

Horn. FG time.

Hey a fake FG for a TD! (No, I won’t describe it…) The QB’s are working on corner flag passes from what looks like the 5 yd line. There’s a weird drill I haven’t seen before by the LB’s, where two LB’s are on either side of a guy in a 4 point stance with another guy behind him.

Horn.

7 on 7′s!!! This is fun to watch!

Eli to Hixon. 87 looks good, nice smooth catches. Cruz with a patented curl where he breaks it off and goes up the field. Just classic. Jernigan does a great job driving the CB back, then comes back to Eli for a catch. Wow, next play Jernigan with a nice over the shoulder catch over Corey…he shows wonderful extension (the pass by Eli is elite!). Short pass to Bradshaw, then Cruz with a nice move against Prince on the sidelines. I’m used to Barden leaping over people, but it’s nice to see him doing a sliding catch up the middle! Barden follows up with a nice leap and catch.

Carr time. Hill makes a spirited knock away of a pass to Cruz. Then Carr connects with Jernigan on a slant. His luck runs out as Randle is blanketed by the defense, so Carr then dumps off to Hopkins. Carr then throws a fastball too hot to handle to DePalma. Did Brown bump Robinson? Incomplete. On the next play Stanback makes a very nice catch over Brown.

Ryan’s Hoping to do better, so he’s in. Collins just misses making the play of the day, as he sky highs but just misses a fingertip catch. DePalma makes a catch on the right sideline. Janzen Jackson knocks down a pass to Douglas, then Wilson with a nice leaping grab on the right side.

Horn.

Eli with a sack! Then hands off to Bradshaw on an off tackle left run. Ware with a nice burst off right tackle. Tuck on a zone blitz knocks down a pass to Hynoski. Bradshaw with a right off tackle run. Ware catches a right dump off pass. Prince gets revenge on Barden with a nice defense of a pass. Brown with a nice run from right to left.

Carr Time. Wilson AGAIN with a 2 cut run up the middle! Randle with a catch on the right. Wilson with a left tackle run. Brown takes a shotgun pass…was that a screen??? Wilson with another reception…this guy is quick. Sack. Wilson then takes a run up he middle.

Ryan Perrilloux again. Brown with a run up the middle, then right tackle the next play. Wilson catches a nice dump pass on the right. Ryan takes a sack, but Bennett waves his arms. (I was open!!!) Brown goes off tackle left.

Horn.

Ugh. The rain, which had just about stopped, starts again. But practice continues!

Full Offense Vs Defense.

Eli with another slot pass to Cruz. Bennett almost makes a spectacular one handed catch of a high pass on the right. He can sky! Bradshaw off tackle right.

Get the Carr out. INT by Herzlich on a right sideline pass. Mark was moving on that one! Wilson with an off tackle left run. Sack. Did Wilson just fumble?

Perrilloux is ready. Dump off to Martinek. Wilson’s back out there with an offtackle run left. Martinek with an off-tackle run right.

Practice Ends!

What you didn’t see after practice:

Me!! (well, I stuck around for a few minutes…)

The team split up into groups, with a prayer group in the middle, the RB’s, O Line, D Line, WR’s, The staff moved short fences to one side of the field, then let the kids in. Autographs ensued!!!

And that’s it. The weather should be better tomorrow…hopefully, I’ll get to the lower fields!

Jul 282012
 
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July 28, 2012 New York Giants Training Camp Report

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany

DE Justin Trattou Helped Off Field; Rain Spoils Coughlin’s Plans

Well today was rainy and the practice had its share of high and low points.  The lowest is the possible injury to DE Justin Trattou who went down with an ankle injury during the 11 on 11s.  He hopped to the sideline and was helped the rest of the way off the field.  During a drill prior to the injury, Justin had shown outstanding speed, which is why so many people thought that he would be Dave Tollefson’s replacement on the D-line.  On a happier note, the other large Justin, DE Justin Tuck, swatted down an Eli Manning pass and rookie DT Markus Kuhn did the same to QB Ryan Perrilloux at the very end of the practice.

Today, the defense caught up a bit with the offense.  There were a few plays that were stopped before they even started.  Even though the Giants were in shorts and shells, there was a lot more physical contact than yesterday.

P Steve Weatherford practiced catching snaps on the sideline.  He fielded low snaps, high snaps, spirals, and knuckle balls.  He caught them two-handed and he caught them one-handed.  All of it under the watchful eye of K Lawrence Tynes.  Later on, there was a field goal drill and Tynes boomed 5 kicks that would have been good from 45-50 yards.  There were no actual goal posts because the rain (more about that later) forced the team to use the SUNY lacrosse field.  So it was not possible to tell if the kicks were wide or not.  They looked pretty good to me.

In a startling turn around for Coach Couglin, the Giants ran a fake field goal!  Weatherford caught LS Zak DeOssie’s snap and ran with it.

Lawrence Tynes also kicked in the kick-off return drill.  The majority of the run backs were by RB David Wilson and WR Jerrel Jernigan, although WR Rueben Randle had one or two as well.  Maybe because of their size, Wilson and Jernigan do not look like they are running fast, but Randle looks like he is as fast as anyone on the team.  Both FB Henry Hynoski and DT Marvin Austin are on the kick-off return team.  They hold hands (if that is still legal) to form the mid-field blocking wedge.  Trust me, Henry is a lot faster than Marvin, but few tacklers are going to want to tangle with Austin.

Today I got a better look at WR Victor Cruz.  All I can say is he is not the same receiver that I last saw in camp two years ago.  He is slick!  His footwork, his positioning, and his body control are outstanding.  You better have your hands on him when he catches the ball, or he will run away from you.  He caught a pass one-handed during one of the passing drills in front the grandstand.  The crowd positively erupted.  I guarantee that if Cruz is not double covered (or held) on every play, he will not be stopped.

I have wondered just how fast LB Mark Herzlich is.  In one of the drills, he ran perhaps a step ahead of Greg Jones and two steps in front of Spencer Paysinger.  I think that is good news.  Now my only question is about Mark’s judgment.  This is based on his remarkably unflattering Mohawk haircut.  Did he lose a bet to a teammate?

I think that RB David Wilson had an impressive practice.  He is not a big guy and he does not have big arms or big thighs like 195 pound RB Joe Morris did.  I’ll have to go with Wilson having “indian muscles.”  That is kind of an old-fashioned term for having a lot of strength and stamina without having bulging muscles.

He had better be very resilient, because he is going to get knocked around quite a bit.  I wonder about his pass blocking ability and I wonder about his ankles.  It appears that he wears wraps around his ankles, I was told, but can’t confirm, that he had done so Virginia Tech as well.

Today he caught passes that RB Brandon Jacobs can only dream of catching.  He also runs very well after the catch.  His only misstep was a muffed catch of a pitch-out in the 11 on 11s.  I could not tell if it was an incomplete pass, or a live ball (lateral).  Wilson also got a bunch of hand offs and that is where his agility really shows.  On one run he made three cuts in about five yards.  He has tremendous balance as well.  The rest of the RBs also had a good practice.

RB Ahmad Bradshaw is not even trying to run at full speed yet.  He does not have to.  He looks comfortable running and that is fine with me.  On one play he ran about five yard in traffic, then bounced mid-air chest-to-chest with a LB, kept his balance and continued running down the field.

The Giants have an interesting RB drill.  The football is attached to a long and heavy rubber band.  The other end is attached to a player sitting on the ground.  The running back takes the football under his arm and sees how far he can stretch the rubber band while still holding onto the ball.

In terms of catching the ball, I have seen nothing from RBs Henry Hynoski, D.J. Ware, or Andre Brown that I can complain about.

It was very clear today why QB David Carr is the back-up quarterback.  He is a better ball handler, more accurate, and most of all is better a finding open receivers than Ryan Perrilloux.  Ryan hesitated frequently before he pulled the trigger on his passes.

It rained this morning so the Giants could not use the practice fields.  They used Fallon Field where the SUNY team plays lacrosse.  It is astroturf and quite springy.  Never-the-less, the Coach was not happy about having to change his plans.

This morning, I figured that Tom would try to get the practice in by starting ahead of the scheduled 1:30 PM time so I arrived at 1:00 to a slight drizzle.  The team had already been on the field for a quarter of an hour.  Although it was cloudy and threatening, the rain held off until 3:10.  That dampened the enthusiasm of the autograph hungry crowd, but TC kept the team on the field until 3:30.

This is not the first time that Coach Coughlin has managed to get in his practice just ahead of the rain.  I can only think of two or three times during Tom’s entire tenure with the team that he has lost a practice to the rain.  There are three possibilities, Tom is either smart, or lucky, or has made a pact with the devil.

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

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor JohnF

“Call of the Wild” Camp Opening

There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life, and beyond which life cannot rise. And such is the paradox of living, this ecstasy comes when one is most alive, and it comes as a complete forgetfulness that one is alive. This ecstasy, this forgetfulness of living, comes to the artist, caught up and out of himself in a sheet of flame; it comes to the soldier, war-mad on a stricken field and refusing quarter; and it came to Buck…He was sounding the deeps of his nature, and of the parts of his nature that were deeper than he, going back into the womb of Time. He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.

Jack London, The Call of the Wild

(He was talking about the Rookies partying before Camp opens, methinks)

The Champs are back! Today is the first day of camp, 2012! Great News! I was watching Audibles on ESPN last night, and Marcellus Wiley had the Giants as high as FOURTH in the NFC EAST, after winning the Super Bowl! Does it get any better than that?

For those of you new to this camp report, I’m JohnF (not Marty the Amazing, who is everywhere and sees everything!). It’s a bit different, as I’m an old Arena League guy; more than 3 linemen make me dizzy! Oh, and if you’ve heard some of the jokes before, remember it’s good for the Earth to recycle things!

Time to fire up the Accord, take I90 from Schenectady to Albany, stop at the Western Avenue Dunkin Doughnuts for some refreshment, and motor on to Camp Scooby Doo. I might have to call it Camp Nanotech, though, pretty soon, as there is an amazing amount of money and construction going on just for that.

The weather looked miserable this morning, but it’s cleared up, cloudy with the Sun poking through at times..low ’80′s with no rain is a good start! Let’s go!

Oh, and I’ll warn you ahead of time…this report will suck. Couldn’t help it, I got paged from work (long story), and had to fix something remotely, but I was prepared…the Virgin Mobile Mifi WORKED!

Wow, they really tore SUNY up. There are new construction fences all over the place. I don’t think it’s for the Foreign Language students though (another long story). I didn’t see the new stadium construction on Field 1 for the UA football team that’s currently in America East (CoughCoughLookslikethey’removingtotheColonialLeagueCough).

Practice is not on the lower field, they apparently moved it to the current football stadium:

There’s good and bad here…nice seats, but I had a good portion of my view blocked by the PEAKED UA tent on the sideline. Bah.

Got there late as well (I was lucky to get out of work today). Got there at 1:15, which is supposed to be plenty of time, but of course Tom has the players out early.

So, I park at Dutch quad, get my “All Sessions Pass” for $15 (beats having to pay $5 a day). Of course, I’m paying the same price for roughly HALF the camps they used to have…thank you NFL/NFLPA.

Puff, Puff, hustle down to the stands. I’m on the side near where the players come in (if you’re sitting in the stands, near the right end). Punt returns (no coverage) are the order of the day, with Hosley, Hixon, Randle, Jernigan and Cruz taking turns. Weatherford looks good, and so do the return guys, though it’s really not at full speed. The QB’s are at the left end of the field, doing footwork drills.

The Defense is by my end, and I see Canty talking to Austin, laughing. I’ll try and do some lip reading, though I’ll warn you, I’m not too acurate:

Canty: Rook, where your dreads?
Austin: Dorm poker games are rough, you know?

Horn sounds, and we go through a whole series of stretches. A lot of them. Oh, and is there anyone left in NJ?? I don’t remember seeing more support staff on the field than the players. Wow!

Beckum and Sintim are behind the endzone, doing leg crunches. Canty was the only guy I saw on the Bike, doing the “Tour de Albany.”

Horn sounds again. More Punt Returns with Jernigan, Randle and Hixon. No sign of Hicks. Or Nicks. One of the punts wanders to the sideline, and nearly hits JPP, who puts his hands up and moves away. (“Not MY Job, Mon!)

Speaking of the defense, I’m not sure who’s bigger, Bernard or Rogers. Rogers looks smaller, but Rocky got blowed up. They certainly will make running up the middle harder. Also, I doubt any hot dogs get past the line.

Austin’s a bit chunky, but he’s built like a fire plug. It should be interesting to see his first real action. Hopefully, he’s not related to Sampson.

Osi looks like a kid out there compared to the big guys, but he looks fast again. So does Tuck. I know they are huge close up, but my word, Bernard and Rogers are space eaters.

Kiwi’s hanging with the LB’s, if you’re wondering.

Horn.

Serious drills start. I’m not close to the offense, but I am to the defense.

(No, I did NOT mean it that way!! Shame on you!)

The Defense is split up into 4 groups, LB’s, CB’s, Safeties and Linemen. Each group rotates around in a clockwise direction. The coaches stay in the 4 cardinal points, and instruct the players to do fumble recovery, striping the ball over the outside shoulder, striping the ball by reaching underneath the player’s grip, or trying to intercept the ball. When you rotate the whole circle, you do all the drills. And they are going full speed!

The offensive linemen on the other side are doing traditional stepping over pylons drills. The QB’s are doing dump offs or hand-offs to the various RB’s, TE’s, WR’s.

Water break, and the defense starts other drills. The D Line is running over pylons (sideways, like they are going down the line), then tackle an inflatable dummy. JPP just explodes in these drills…you can hear the impact from him hitting over 100 feet away!

Oh, and they pull out the “Ball on a stick” drill. You can make your OWN joke with that one, boys and girls!

Coach holds ball on a stick, to simulate the snap for four D Linemen. When he moves the stick, they burst out of their 3-point stance and sprint to the endzone. Well, not Rogers, he’s fast for about 5 feet, then jogs. I don’t expect to see a JPP down-the-field tackle, or zone blitz, from him.

The QB’s (Eli, Carr and Perrilloux) are doing dump offs. Hixon looks good, is doing his cuts without any problems. Isaiah Stanback (18) intrigues me…he made some nice catches, still needs work on his cuts, but has a presence out there. I’m keeping an eye on him.

Oh, and Martellus Bennett is NOT fat. He’s just big. And built. And he’s going to be a load as a blocker.

Horn. Eli starts, and first Cruz and then Barden make catches that drew raves from the crowd (my view was blocked by the tent, darn it!).

Then work calls. Sigh. I have to save lives (at least today…the rest of the next two weeks I’m free!! YESSS!)

Much later after missing most of the passing drills), Jake Muasau makes a diving interception off of Perrilloux (ball bounced off the WR’s hands). Got glimpses of Ware, Brown and Bradshaw taking dump offs (hey Ahmad, I know long shorts are de rigueur since Jordan, but they really shouldn’t hit your socks. Seriously, get them shortened!).

Horn sounds, and now we have either KO or PR where the runner just takes the ball in the endzone from the coach, and has to avoid two players. Jernigan, Bing, Wilson and Randle do their thing.

Practice ends. Sorry for the quality, I’m a bit rusty. Things should look better tomorrow! (Autograph Day!)

Things you didn’t see after practice ends:

Unusual spot for the TC presser. It was in back of the end zone, up on a stand with the blue Giants/Toyota background.

Coach Pope was hanging with the TE’s after practice, talking. Bennett looked either very serious, or miffed. He did give a thumbs up and a small smile to the crowd later. The TE’s did some after-practice sprints (sideline to sideline).

Stanback and another guy were doing more pitch-and-catch after practice.

Coach Fewell was also doing pitch-and-catch with his two kids after practice (well,I think they were his kids). One had a #33 Fewell blue giants shirt.

Autographs were by the fence, and the players stayed there a while.

Where was Pat Hanlon? I kept looking for him. I’ll do the fashion thing with him tomorrow, then!

Guys looked good today. I’m crossing my fingers, we got a really good bunch if we can get them all on the field!

Jul 272012
 
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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.

Aug 072011
 
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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.

Aug 062011
 
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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.

Aug 012011
 
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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.

Jul 312011
 
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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!

Aug 182010
 
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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.

Aug 142010
 
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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.