August 6, 2006 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Morning Practice)

by Contributor Marty in Albany

You couldn’t ask for a nicer morning to hold a practice. The Mara troops were in shells, helmets, and shorts. All except LB LaVar Arrington who spent the early practice working his big arms on the Cybex machine and then watched the drills from the sidelines. For awhile he stood next to Coach Coughlin and I think they were talking a bit. LaVar kept his hands clasped behind his back to ensure that he would not give in to any urge to give the Coach another friendly slap on the rump. I assume that LaVar is not injured and merely doing one practice a day as had been originally predicted.

LB Reggie Torbor filled in with the first team for LaVar and Brandon Short filled in for LB Carlos Emmons who was also not playing.

TE Jeremy Shockey is back from his concussion and played very well today. He was much cheered by the crowd which I estimate at 1,500 minimum. This year’s fan attendance is noticeably higher than last year’s. Shockey made several excellent catches. One sidelines catch required a last second burst of speed to get to the ball and Jeremy caught it with his hands. Another pass resulted in a juggling catch that brought Shockey skidding to his knees and then up again in almost a single motion and he continued to run with the ball. These were good catches, but the one that really impressed me was a “look-in” catch over the middle with an almost instantaneous pivot to turn and run downfield with the ball. That pivot was a thing of beauty.

TE Visanthe Shankoe was not dressed and TE Wade Fletcher took advantage of Shank’s absence to play with the first team (and others). He made some fine catches and appears to be well ahead of Darcy Johnson and Boo Williams in the competition for the third-string tight end position. I will be fully sold on Wade when he makes more catches going against the Giants’ first-team defense. But for now, he is doing very well. He caught all the balls that he was supposed to catch including a very hard-thrown dump-off ball from Eli Manning. He also made two very athletic, diving catches with his hands. Catches that I don’t think Shank would have caught and which former Giant TE Dan Campbell can only dream about catching. Boo Williams, who is playing mostly on the fourth-team, made two catches. One of them a touchdown from Eli Manning in the red…er green zone drill from the 20-yard line. It was his best practice that I have seen.

WR Sinorice Moss did not practice and it gave WR Willie Ponder a chance to make half-a-dozen catches. He got cheers and encouragement from his teammates who no doubt realize that he is fighting for a spot on the squad. QB Jared Lorenzen did not get any encouragement from Coach Coughlin when in the green zone drill he couldn’t find anyone open so he decided to pitch the ball back to RB James Sims, who was immediately swamped for what would have been a 10-yard loss. Jared had some good passes to go along with the not-so-good stuff. Not so for QB Rob Johnson, who had as awful a practice as I have seen.

Rob Johnson continues to hold the ball too long and could not connect with receivers. He is a 33-year old veteran and I have to assume that what we are seeing is rust. However, if he does not get better soon, he will have a hard time beating out Jared Lorenzen. That is a scary thought. Tim Hasselbeck played well today showing rhythm, poise, and touch. He is clearly the back-up quarterback.

WR Tim Carter continues to catch everything thrown his way. His height is listed at 6-0. I think that is an inch or more generous. Tim appears to be a full speed despite a knee wrap. Compared to last season, he is making catches with less effort. He is smoother and surer in catching the ball. Each different type of catch requires a different body position. I think that this year Tim is more able to anticipate which body position he will need to catch the ball and he smoothly gets into that position.

If Tim Carter is smooth, then Amani Toomer has positively balletic. In every practice, he amazes with sure-handed sideline receptions just getting his tip toes inside the lines. Eli Manning started the eleven-on-eleven drills with a picture perfect pass over the middle to Amani, who had a step on SS Gibril Wilson. One step was all Eli and Amani needed for the completion.

On defense: Perhaps DT Jonas Seawright should get suspenders for his shorts. They were only about three quarters of the way up during entire practice and were on the verge of giving big Jonas some unwanted attention. Clearly, if Jonas ever wants to be a big-time tackle, he is going to have master this pants-down-the-butt problem. Perhaps he should contact Jason Sehorn, who can tell him how important it is to keep your pants up while playing football.

To go from the ridiculous to the sublime on defense, S James Butler is back. He knocked down a pass and he intercepted a Rob Johnson pass.

RT Kareem McKenzie, as usual, was wearing a sweat suit. I assume it is for conditioning purposes rather than hiding any medical apparatus he is wearing. DT Sir Henry Anderson, number 78, does not have a name on his shirt yet. It will be interesting to see if he ever gets one.

HB Tiki Barber continues to look great cutting and running and catching the ball. He caught a beauty down the scrimmage line from Eli. The best thing about the pass was that Eli was looking to the opposite side of the field, then he quickly turned his head and zipped it to Tiki. Tiki might as well be wearing a red shirt. The defensive players know where their bread is buttered so they don’t tackle him. They may slap at the ball as Tiki runs past them (to show the coaches that they are in position to make a play) and they might slap his butt as he comes back, but that is all the contact that Tiki receives.

HB Derrick Ward, and returner Chad Morton got a lot of reps today. So far as I could tell RB Brandon Jacobs got none, although he was dressed. Chad is small and fast and somewhat elusive, and Ward is more of a straight-ahead power runner. Both caught the ball well today too.