July 28, 2007 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Morning Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany

The practice is scheduled to begin at 8:40 AM. From 8:10 to 8:30, it is pouring, but thank God, no lightning. At 8:45 Tom Coughlin comes out and looks at the field. He makes a face. There is only a slight drizzle now. At 9:00 there are hoots and cheers from autograph alley as the Giants head onto the field. They apparently warmed up indoors because they immediately broke into groups and started to practice without the usual stretching exercises. The rain had stopped and the field held up surprisingly well. There were no slips by players and no torn-up sod. As the players were in shells there was no real hitting either.

To nobody’s surprise, Michael Strahan was not on the field. What was a surprise was the absence of P Jeff Feagles. P Cory Ohnesorge handled all the punting. Although he did not kick any beauties, he didn’t kick any terrible ones either. The most that you can say about his kicks was that they were consistent. His kicks were straight, not directional, and had medium depth and hang-time.

CB Cory Webster and DE Justin Tuck did not dress, but were on the field. WR Amani Toomer played. He ran smoothly, cut, and caught several passes. His best one was against CB Sam Madison who was pushing and prodding him all the way. Another WR who looked good was Sinorice Moss who showed good hands catching some hard-thrown passes. He looks to be ahead of WR Steve Smith as would be expected. Smith did nothing exceptional, but he did take an end-around hand-off from QB Jared Lorenzen and showed some speed and some nifty moves on the wet grass. WR Plaxico Burress and TE Jeremy Shockey look to be in mid-season form and both caught passes in patterns that I’m sure they’ve run many times before.

I hesitate to talk about quarterbacks until they have had several practices to settle down, but my first impression is that Jared Lorenzen had the most accurate and consistent arm this morning. Eli Manning continues to be inconsistent. He had some excellent completions, but botched a hand-off and on one throw missed Sinorice Moss by about 5 yards. He also made some poor decisions by throwing the ball to well-covered receivers. Pencil in Anthony Wright as the number 2 or number 3 QB. He has a decent arm and made some good throws. Tim Hasselbeck was just horrible. He was much worse than his poor showing on day one of practice last year. Tim was intercepted, could not find receivers to throw to, and in general looked bad.

All of the tight ends look like they can catch. Tight Ends Coach Mike Pope was throwing short passes to them as they ran past him. He intentionally made the balls difficult to catch, which most of them were. Even when they were dropped, the TEs did not look awkward. I got my first look at TE Kevin Boss. He does not have big arms, but I am happy to say that he has good sized legs. That is an encouraging sign so far as blocking ability goes. He caught a pass or two. On one, as he ran by, he pushed Steve Smith down. I’m sure he will hear about that. TE Rodney Burgess had several catches and appears to be a talented receiver. We will have to wait a while to find out which of the TEs can block.

With Michael Strahan and Justin Tuck out, William Joseph, not Adrian Awasom, started at left defensive end. Of course with Joseph, one day he starts and the next day he sits. Osi Umenyiora played right defensive end. The linebackers were Antonio Pierce, Kawika Mitchell, who looked reasonably speedy and agile, and Mathias Kiwanuka, who practiced and played exclusively with the linebacker group.

LB Zak DeOssie nearly had an interception, but could not hang on to it. Zak DeOssie is the newest member of the Giants’ All-Famous-Relatives squad. Let’s hope his talent more closely resembles that of Tiki Barber than Tim Hasselbeck. Zak’s father Steve, was a linebacker on Bill Parcells’ Giants team. The Giants got Steve DeOssie from the Cowboys in exchange for a 5th round draft choice and he was worth it. Steve didn’t have his son’s looks. Steve was rolly-polly and had a very fair complexion with pink cheeks. Because his face was round and somewhat blotchy, Parcells nicknamed him “Beach Ball.” Beach Ball!

Can you imagine Tom Coughlin calling a player “Beach Ball!” That would go over about as well as when Howard Cosell, on Monday Night Football, in a famously unsuccessful attempt to be cute, referred to WR Alvin Garrett as “that little monkey.” Those of us old enough to have seen Cosell, Dandy Don and The Giff do the MNF broadcasts well remember that episode. There were charges of racism against Cosell. I don’t think that he was a racist, especially considering his vocal support of Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, when Ali became a Muslim and was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War. I think the ABC Network fired Cosell after that season. Uh, where was I? Oh yes, training camp. Let me mention shoulder pads.

In the mornings the Giants generally wear “shells” which kinda look like shoulder pads, but aren’t. Shoulder pads give much more protection, but are much bulkier. In my opinion the difference is very significant when judging player performance. It is harder for a QB to throw a football and harder to catch a football with pads on. Receivers who catch with their body instead of their hands often have the ball bounce off their pads and be intercepted. Pads don’t allow LBs and DBs as much freedom to extend their arms to block a pass or to intercept. I’m also guessing that it is a bit harder for an RB to keep the ball secure when wearing pads. My conclusion is that if you make a good play wearing pads it counts more than a good play wearing shells. So in October when you see a long pass go off the fingertips of a receiver, you might say to yourself, “Man, if they were wearing shells and short pants, it would have been a completed pass for sure!”

As everyone expected, Dave Diehl, the veteran starter at left guard, is the new left tackle. How could he not be? He is a known quantity to the Giants. He is healthy, very coachable, has plenty of experience, healthy, knows the playbook, is dependable, consistent, and healthy. Barring injury in my opinion he should be a solid starter for the Giants.

Here are some player numbers:

OL Zach Piller: 63. OL Ryan Keenan is now W70. Not a good sign for Ryan.

OT Chris Patrick: 68

RB DeCori Birmingham: 30

RB Cedric Humes: Didn’t see him on the field (Editor’s Note: He’s been waived).

TE Charles Davis: 49

WR Kevin McMahan: 87

MLB Barry Robertson: 54

SS Richard Yancy: 36

Fullback Robert Douglas is a big and powerfully built player. I did not see him get on the field, but he is impressively built. Speaking of impressively built. DT Jonas Seawright looks considerably slimmed down with no gut hanging over his belt. S Will Demps also looks buff and ready to play. Speaking of looks, CB R.W. McQuarters now has a shaved head, but CB/S Michael Stone has stepped into the tonsorial breach with dread locks that come down three inches below his shoulders.

Of all the defensive backs, CB Travanti Johnson had the most impressive practice with two interceptions. CB Kevin Dockery had a nice break-up of a deep Lorenzen pass. S Gibril Wilson also had an interception.

R.W. McQuarters and wide receivers Michael Jennings (who caught a few nice passes, but also dropped one or two), Sinorice Moss, and Steve Smith were all taking turns returning punts. There were no FG kicks or kickoff returns. There is a new defensive back on the Giants named Richard Yancy. He wears number 36.

First of all, remember that we got RB Reuben Droughns straight up for Tim Carter so try to be moderate in your expectations. If ever there was a football equivalent of “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” that trade is it. Reuben looked a lot better running the ball than Tim Carter did catching it. Reuben seems to have decent speed and is a little bit shifty. RB Brandon Jacobs looked a little slimmer and a little faster than last year. He looks like he can avoid hitting people if he wants to. RB Ahmad Bradshaw ran the ball a lot. He looks like he has a nice cut-back move, but he does not have blazing speed. He is powerfully built and, I think, a bit bow-legged. We’ll have to wait to find out if he can catch. The same goes for Brandon Jacobs’ catching ability. Both RB Derrick Ward and RB Ryan Grant played and did a reasonably good job.