August 4, 2007 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Morning Practice)

by Contributor Marty in Albany

The Giants were in shells and shorts on this hot and sunny day and a lot of interesting thing happened. Finding significance in those things is another matter. I asked my fellow BBIers who were at the Albany Best Western and they either shrugged and had no answer for me, or they insinuated that I ought to do my own work and leave them in peace. I’ll try to find significance later on in the report.

The Giants again had officials on the field. They caught DT Fred Robbins jumping offside and they called at least one illegal procedure on the first-string offensive line.

I am told that WR Plaxico Burress’ ankle got nicked up yesterday. He did not play and WR Amani Toomer was not dressed. CB Kevin Dockery did not dress, but at least he was present on the field, as was LB Chase Blackburn who is still icing down his strained thigh. CB Travonti Johnson did not dress. P Jeff Feagles arrived at the practice about 30 minutes late. I do not believe that there were any punts or punt returns during the practice. There were some kickoff returns and CB E.J. Underwood returned one or two to join a host of other Giants in the kick return derby. One reminder of Tiki Barber is that virtually everyone on the team carries the ball the Tiki way: high and in front.

TE Jeremy Shockey is working himself into mid-season form. I am not talking about his sliding over-the-middle catch of an Eli pass, I’m talking about his animated complaint to the referee that he had taken a blow to the face from a defensive player. This vintage Shockey vignette would have been even more entertaining if the ref had thrown Shockey out of the game for jawing, instead of just dismissing Jeremy’s protest with a waive of the arms.

In the 11-on-11s, Eli could not find an open receiver so he dumped the ball off to RB Brandon Jacobs over the middle for about 5 yards. On such a throw it is important to keep the ball low to prevent it from being picked off. Brandon caught it at about thigh height which is tough to do. If you take into account the velocity of the throw and the short time that Brandon had to prepare for it, it was a good reception indeed. Brandon continues to run the ball with speed.

In a kickoff return drill, the kick by PK Lawrence Tynes bounced at about the 5-yard line and rolled out of bounds. Not good. I’m told that Tynes has the inside track over PK Josh Huston, who kicked next. Josh’s kick was fielded by RB DeCori Birmingham, who immediately threw a lateral pass of about 15 yards to RB Ahmad Bradshaw who ran up the field. There would be more razzle-dazzle plays to come during this practice.

Immediately after the lateral play, Eli Manning took the snap, did an about-face, and to the tumultuous cheers of the fans, threw the ball about 50 yards and high in the air. It sailed over the fence, and into the middle of the crowd of fans assembled on the upper slope of Field number one. Apparently, this play was designed to cause a safety. When the Giants asked for the ball back, (as they always do, when field goal kicks go over the fence) the crowd booed and the Giants relented and let them keep the ball.

In baseball, part of the lure of the game is the possibility of catching a foul ball or a home run. Numerous fans bring their baseball gloves. Catching a 50 cent ball is part of the deal when you purchase a $50 baseball ticket. At training camp, the seating (or should I say, the attendance) is free and the football is never intended as a gift to the fans. What’s more, letting the fans keep the football really belies the fact that the Giants would just as soon not have any fans at the practice.

Poor QB Tim Hasselbeck. He had few opportunities. His best pass hit WR Brandon London squarely in the hands and bounced off for an incompletion. Tim also had another deep nothing-but-turf pass. QBs Jared Lorenzen and Anthony Wright were far from perfect, but at least they had their moments making some good throws.

Then it was time for another razzle-dazzle play: a flea-flicker. Eli Manning took the snap and tossed a lateral to WR Sinorice Moss, who attempted to throw a return lateral to Eli. DT Fred Robbins got in the way, snagged the ball, and trotted into the end zone. I’m told that it was actually DT Barry Cofield who had tipped the ball into Robbins’ hand. I’m guessing that the coaches told Sinorice that if two defensive linemen get between you and the QB, do NOT attempt throw the ball. Either run with it or fall down and pretend that the play is over. Then, if nobody touches you, get up and run.

Eli Manning made some good throws today. An easy pass from a spread formation found WR Steve Smith in the end zone. Perhaps the best pass of the day was timing route from Eli to TE Darcy Johnson who caught the ball in stride in the corner of the endzone. Both passes were during an 11-on-11 red zone drill. Eli also threw an effective 15-yard out-pass to WR Michael Jennings, who looked sharp and probably had the most catches during the 11-on-11s. TE Kevin Boss continues to make at least one leaping sideline catch per practice.

Here’s a play that I had been waiting and hoping for: on an Eli pass to Jeremy Shockey, LB Mathias Kiwanuka turned and tipped the ball away for a pass defense. Shortly after that, on the verge of being sacked by two defensive players, Jared Lorenzen launched a desperation throw into the arms of CB Gerrick McPhearson.

So what was the significance of the morning practice? Well, in some ways it was encouraging, but I am still waiting to see competed passes where the receiver has the opportunity to catch the ball and run 40 yards with it. So far, it has been catch the ball and run maybe a few yards.