July 26, 2008 New York Giants Training Camp Report (Morning Practice)

by BigBlueInteractive.com Contributor Marty in Albany

The practice was held on the stadium field again because the practice fields are wet. This may soon take on some significance because space is limited here. On the practice fields the team can really spread out onto adjacent fields. In the stadium they are cramped and I would not be surprised if Head Coach Tom Coughlin feels that even on Day 2 of camp that the team is falling behind. This morning’s practice, under sunny skies was in shorts and shells (minimum contact) and lasted the full two hours.

I think the most significant development of the practice was the improvement in the play of WR Domenik Hixon. He made some excellent receptions and was catching the ball naturally rather than fighting it. Perhaps his bad showing yesterday was just a case of first day jitters. He also has the inside track on KO returns. Others in that hunt are HB Ahmad Bradshaw, HB Derrick Ward, and WR Craphonso Thorpe. Thorpe made several returns and has some speed and elusiveness. Naturally, a very important consideration is whether he will hang onto the ball when he gets hit. That will have to wait until a real game.

Getting back to Hixon, he was covered by two defenders, but he made a diving catch of a deep sideline pass from Manning (about 30 yards in the air). It was probably the best catch of the practice. In the red zone… er green zone drill, Hixon caught a touch pass lofted by Manning. Hixon kept his focus and caught the ball in stride with hands outstretched well over his head despite good coverage from CB Aaron Ross. It was a graceful, Amani Toomer type catch.

TE Kevin Boss and TE Darcy Johnson continued to make catches with style and grace. This is encouraging to me.

Of course, nobody is going to duplicate WR Plaxico Burress’s style. Although he was not dressed this morning, he was again catching passes one-handed from the Juggs machine from about ten yards away. Yesterday the balls were aimed at his chest. Today the ball were aimed about a foot over his head and he was catching the balls to his left with his left hand and to his right with his right hand. If Shockey were still on the team, he would have come over and said, “Hey Plax, let me try that.” Today, so far as I could tell, everyone else just watched.

WR David Tyree and LB Gerris Wilkinson were not dressed either. As they had done yesterday, they trained on the steep, grassy slope (about 30 degrees on the far side of the stadium field. Under the watchful eye of a trainer they ran up the slope and across it to build up their strength and wind. Shades of Tiki and Jim Finn running up that high hill in New Jersey in the off-seasons several years ago!

There were some passes to WR Sinorice Moss, but he fails to make catches look easy. It seems to me that in order for Moss to be a successful receiver he has to use his agility to get wide open rather than to merely rely on his speed to get open. Because Moss is so short, the QB has much less margin for error than with a tall receiver like the 6-4 Brandon London who had an up and down practice. London caught a pass or two, but an André Woodson pass hit him in the numbers, bounced straight up into the air and was nearly intercepted, by (I am told) S Kenny Phillips.

HB Kay-Jay Harris is getting more carries than the rest of the running backs combined. I don’t know why. He has yet to do anything extraordinary. On one handoff he did show some nice lateral movement to his right. The Giants do take their running plays seriously. I noticed OG Rich Seubert pulling on one of them. HB Brandon Jacobs and HB Ahmad Bradshaw continue to impress. Bradshaw needs only about two strides to accelerate to full speed.

They continue to use WR Steve Smith and WR Mario Manningham on reverses. The Giants also had a flea-flicker that was not executed all that smoothly, but still resulted in a completion from Anthony Wright to Domenik Hixon, who had the sense to come back for it. Steve Smith may or may not have made a fine diving end zone catch of a touch pass from Eli over CB Kevin Dockery. I’m uncertain if the ball was caught, but it was a nice play by all concerned.

Quarterbacks: Manning continues to look good. André Woodson needs work on his deep passes. I don’t detect any horrible hitch in his throwing motion. QB Anthony Wright is thowing the ball accurately, but his timing is off. He is throwing the ball too late and often without sufficient depth.