New York Giants Mini-Camp Ends: The final practice of the Giants’ three-day, full-squad mini-camp was held yesterday morning. The veterans will be off until the start of training camp in Albany, New York in early August; the rookies will remain at the Meadowlands for one more week of instruction.
Injury Update: Not practicing yesterday were WR Hakeem Nicks (offseason toe and wrist surgery), WR Domenik Hixon (knee – lost for the season), TE Kevin Boss (offseason ankle surgery), OG/OC Kevin Boothe (offseason pectoral surgery), DE Justin Tuck (foot), DT Jay Alford (knee), and S Kenny Phillips (still recovering from knee surgery).
WR Mario Manningham was excused from the last day of camp for personal reasons.
Media Q&A With Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride:
Q: Amount of work Hakeem Nicks got this spring coming off wrist and toe surgery?
A: Yeah, you would have loved to had Hakeem out there. We know that he is recovering health wise and hopefully that will translate into improved performance next fall. Because his foot will be healthier, he will be able to run routes and develop the kind of consistency that we think he is capable of achieving.
Q: Nicks working with Eli in July and how that will help him out?
A: That will help him. It will help some. He needs his coaches with him and telling him what to do. Eli will help certainly. And catching as many balls from him and trying to use Eli as an extension of the coaching staff will certainly be beneficial to him. But he needs to be here with the intensity – coaches telling him what to do and also the opportunity to compete against that is playing defensively and trying to shut him down. You learn your stuff on air from a certain point but then you have to make the adjustments necessary to be successful when somebody is trying to shut you down. And that is what he unfortunately missed. But it is a trade off. So you hope health wise that will pay dividends down the road.
Q: Domenik Hixon’s loss on offense?
A: It would embarrass him for me to say what he means…But to be honest, he is just what you are looking for as a human being, first and foremost. Every day in the meetings, out on the practice field – he is as professional a guy as we have on our football team. And so just his example of his enthusiasm, his encouragement to his fellow players, he is tremendous. And so it manifests itself in the kicking game because he gets more opportunities there. He is the guy. He has been on our third, he has been our second at times, he has been our fourth receiver – he has been an integral part of what we do passing wise. So as a receiver, we will miss him terribly. As the man that he is, and the example he sets and the encouragement that he gives everybody else…you are not going to replace him. That is going to be a tough pill to swallow.
Q: Ramses Barden starting to pick up the offense?
A: It would be good. There is no question. I think we all are hopeful because we see a guy that has a big wing span, and he is a bright young man. He has good hands. Now he just has to go do it; go do it on a consistent basis. And I think he wants to do it and I think it is important to him. That is the first step. The second step – now you have to go do it. And that is what we are waiting to see. In the spring you see those little glimpses – you get encouragement and feel, “He is there.” Now can we get it out of you on a consistent basis? Can you take advantage of the fact that you are 6-5, 6-6, whatever your size is and reach over somebody and make some of those catches that we think you are capable of making. You see it once in a while; you don’t see it enough. No one wants it more than him. And I’m not sure that – I think last year as his first year was kind of a feeling out process. I think he really wants to be the guy. I think he wants to be that contributor. Now he has to go do it.
Q: He had one yesterday afternoon that Bomar threw it up in the air – a little bit high – he…?
A: That is where – you just have to jump, all you do is run. Where it hit him it was a great throw. He stopped to make a spectacular catch. If he had just kept running, it would have been right in his hands. It was a great throw. I would say that he tried too hard. He wants to make a spectacular catch. All he had to do was to keep running. It would have been right in stride. Maybe that is an example of what I am saying. He wants to do it so badly sometimes it almost hurts you. But I feel encouraged by the fact that I see a guy that really is trying very, very hard. And again I see some skills that would help us and would benefit us substantially if he can do it on a continual basis. I’m betting on him. I think he is going to do it. I think he wants to do it. I think it is important enough; he is bright enough – now just go do it. I think he can. Steve Smith started…his rookie year and then now he has become a very – every play in and play out – practice, games. It doesn’t matter. He is always in competition, he is always doing it. I’m not saying that he is Steve Smith, but I’m saying that I would love to see him take the next step like Steve did his second year. And if he can do that, that will help us tremendously.
Q: Learning curve for Barden from Cal Poly to the NFL?
A: Yeah, I guess. I guess. You are hopeful you see something – maybe in an earlier than we did. I see a very intelligent guy that I would hope would assimilate what we do at a fairly quick pace. And so therefore, you would like to see it manifest itself maybe a little bit more rapidly. Maybe I’m being unfair because I’m so hopeful because I can see some things that would fill some voids that we have offensively. But you have to go do it.
Q: Andre Brown coming back from his Achilles injury?
A: It is hard for me to tell physically. Soreness wise and everything else, I think that he will tell you that he has still got a ways to go. It is more of the fact that he missed the whole season. It is like starting all over again. So right now he is making a few more mistakes. That is where I see it – more than the slowness, which certainly shows up – is the fact that he has missed a whole season. It is like starting from scratch. So there are a few more mistakes right now than we could afford if we had to put him in. We couldn’t afford to put him in right now. Hopefully as the training camp goes and the exhibition goes, those things disappear.
Q: The two guys ahead of him – I’m sure they both are going to be little limited coming off their surgeries in training camp. He is going to get a lot of chances?
A: A lot of work. There is a lot of work. Now it is just capitalizing on those opportunities.
Q: Will Beatty at left tackle and David Diehl moving inside to guard. What did you see out of that and is that an option going forward?
A: It is definitely an option. Will it wind up that way? It is the best five guys playing. So it is not that Will would beat out David at left tackle, it is can Will play well enough at left tackle that you would move David in? But he is really beating out Rich Seubert – that is who he is beating out. And whether that will happen or not remains to be seen. Has Will played well? He has played real well. He has had a good spring. And that is good to see. But you are beating out a guy that may be the heart and soul of your offensive group. As I mentioned before, he is not surrendering that position without a fight. That is not going to happen. Richie kind of embodies everything that you want in an offensive lineman. And he is going to give him hell. He said not to tell anybody this, but he is a feisty, tough combative – though he did want me to tell everybody here that you were wrong – he did not start the fight (in the stadium workout). Chris Snee started the fight. He happened to get embroiled in it – as it always seems to gravitate to him. But he did not start the fight. He wanted me to make sure that if I was going to say anything about him that that was brought up. But Richie has been – just as we have talked about before – Richie in terms of toughness day in and day out, is not letting any nagging injuries bother him. And so you are not taking his starting position from him easily. So can William play so well that that happens? He has got a lot of physical ability and he did play very well this spring. So it is kind of a good situation to be in. We wish we had more of those situations where there are more guys looking to knock somebody out of the starting lineup. We don’t have enough.
Q: Richie Seubert’s surgery?
A: Yeah, he is coming back. He is never going to articulate that anything is wrong. He is never going to express that anything is holding him back. He is a guy that just came off shoulder surgery. So it going to slow him down, but when camp starts he will go out and he will hit and he will be just as physical as everybody else. Now, will it diminish his play? If I had a bet, I would never bet against him.
Q: Guy Whimper?
A: We are trying to see where he fits in. Right now we would love to have him exhibit some flexibility where we could use him at a couple of different positions, where he is competing, can you be that seventh offensive lineman on Sunday. That is all we dress. If you guys could talk to Tom (Coughlin) and we could get eight, I would love to have it happen. But right now we only get seven. So whoever that seventh guy is, you have to play a couple of different spots. And so we are waiting to see if he can – he has been here long enough to warrant some consideration. Again, it will all be assessed during training camp. But that is why we are moving a lot of different spots – not just saying you are the tackle. Right now you have to prove that you can play tackle. Can you be the guard? We know he could be a fourth tackle. But can he be a third guard or center – not the center but one of those internal positions.
Q: What Will Beatty still needs to show?
A: Technique – 100% of technique. He is a very athletic, gifted guy but he also will still find himself in some of the most awkward positions you can possibly conceive of. So when he can eliminate that, then I think he will take full advantage of really, very special, athletic qualities.
Q: Brandon Jacobs’ initial burst?
A: We haven’t seen it. He hasn’t practiced a lot out there. He looks okay running. I don’t see anything extraordinary yet. So I think the acid test will come as we get into the exhibition season. We will see if that acceleration and the ability to get to the hole in the time frame that is necessary for the play to be successful shows itself. But we are counting on it.
Q: Any concern about that?
A: No, not really. No, I’m thinking it is going to happen. But until it actually does you never know.
Q: Rhett Bomar?
A: Right now you figure that Jim (Sorgi) is going to be the backup unless some extraordinary thing happens differently. We really gave a lot more reps to Jim than we did to Rhett. So Rhett really didn’t get as many. We are giving Jim a chance to be exposed to our offense. And so he got as many reps as Eli did. And in that third segment of repetitions were really spit between him and Riley Skinner. Both of those guys did okay. Riley showed moments – some flashes – that were outstanding. And so did Rhett. But they really didn’t get a lot of work.
Q: How did Eli throw the ball this spring?
A: Not bad; not bad. He threw it well. We kind of pushed him to be a little more aggressive, to try to take some chances now, get a sense of what you feel comfortable doing. You see a guy in New Orleans where they are throwing the seam balls and you see Drew Brees making some throws in there. And maybe not every quarterback will even try. I said, ‘Until you find out if you are comfortable doing that, you have to do it now – do it in practice and what are the consequences.’ So we kind of pushed him to do some of those things. As a result there were a few more interceptions than we would have liked. It upsets the head man, but I’m glad he was kind of pushing the envelope a little bit.
Q: Travis Beckum?
A: Yeah, like I was mentioning with William, he has to do the same thing. There is some athleticism there that you want to tap into and you want to take advantage of. But he has a long way to go in terms of utilizing that athleticism, doing things right and doing things in a consistent way. Now, if he can do that, he will help us.
Q: Travis blocking or running?
A: He is not going to be your point of attack, prototypical tight end. That is not his forte; that is not his strength. But when we put him out in space, he has got some special abilities. But you still have to block out there; you still have to run the routes the right way. You still have to get open. He makes some spectacular catches but he’s not necessarily doing the things that you have to do to get yourself open on a consistent basis. And if you are a quarterback and he is not doing that, then what do you do? You say to him, “I’m not counting on you. I’m going to look somewhere else.”
Q: You have never been a wildcat guy but Antrel Rolle comes in here having done a little bit and is pushing to do it. Are you thinking any more towards that?
A: That is a no.
Media Q&A With Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell:
Q: Through OTAs and mini camp, how do you see this defense coming together?
A: I think we have accomplished some basics and fundamentals. It is very hard to say because we are running around in shorts. The real test will come when we put the pads on and we are going two a days against each, and obviously with preseason games. But I think we accomplished some basics and fundamentals and established some evaluations. They know who I am, I know who they are, some of the techniques that they can play, some of the things that they can do, I have a better appreciation for.
Q: What do they know about you right now?
A: I thought we just had fun practicing and learning the game and playing the game of football. To me, that is what I do. And so I thought that we enjoyed doing that together.
Q: Did you sense that they needed that – some kind of injection of energy or enthusiasm?
A: I had no preconceived ideas of what they needed or what they wanted. You just try to inject what we do and try to accomplish what we want to accomplish in the OTAs and then in the mini camp.
Q: Is the middle linebacker situation any clearer after the mini camp?
A: I thought some guys stepped up. Jonathan Goff I thought had a very good OTA and mini camp. I thought Phillip Dillard had a good OTA and mini camp – Gerris Wilkinson – all of those guys competed. And I think that was a good thing. I know I’m leaving some names out – I don’t mean to leave names out. Again, I’m not calling in a pecking order or what have you. But I’m saying I thought all of those guys competed and showed us that they can play the game. Now the real deal comes when you put the pads on. When the bullets fly, who is going to step up and take charge and be our leader?
Q: Chase Blackburn?
A: Oh yes, I know I’m leaving some names out. But Chase… We played some other guys there at the MIKE position also. But those guys did compete and they did do a good job. I was not disappointed in what I saw on the field.
Q: Does Phillip Dillard still feel very much like a rookie or do you feel he is getting adjusted a little better?
A: I think the rookie mini camp helped him a lot. The game is not too big for Phillip from what I could see. He still has the rookie status so I’m not going to go there. But the game is not too big for him. I’ll just leave it at that.
Q: How much did you use OTAs in installing the defense? How much have you installed? Are you waiting for camp to install everything?
A: No, we try to install as much as we possibly could. Obviously there are some things that we did not install that we will install in camp. Obviously there was some stuff that we did not install that we will install in camp because I’ve learned our players a little better to where we can say we can do this or do that. But I tried to install at least 75% of what we are going to do.
Q: Do you feel you have laid the ground work for the aggressive mindset?
A: Yes, that is exactly what we tried to do. We tried to create the mindset of what we would like to look like and what we would like to be.
Q: I spoke with Peter Giunta recently. He talked about the coverage schemes based on what these guys were used to coming off last year. He said maybe matching up a little more later in the down, maybe more zone-like schemes. Is that an accurate way to kind of describe it?
A: That is accurate.
Q: When you look at that – and we talk to a guy like Corey Webster – who said that maybe he struggled a little bit playing off the ball early in his career. And he was able to kind of get up in the guy’s face…more comfortable. Will he still be able to do a lot of that stuff?
A: What I tried to do with our scheme is give them a structure, a basic foundation, they could hold on to it. And then their individual talents, they can accomplish what we need to accomplish within the bounds. So, yes, he will have that freedom to do that.
Q: How did Antrel Rolle and Deon Grant do?
A: Oh, gosh. You know what, they were really, really good. Two veterans that have a good knowledge of the game, that have good chemistry and they make the game easier for me as a defensive coordinator right now. And I think the corners and some of the linebackers because they are communicators. And that is what you have to have. You have a field general back there that can communicate and let you know where you are going and what you are doing. And I think they really did a nice job of that. We look for them to carry that over into the training camp.
Q: Are you going on the presumption that Kenny Phillips may not be available early?
A: No, I’m not presuming anything. I think Kenny Phillips will be ready on August 1. It is unfortunate that we did not have him in the OTAs but I’m looking forward to having him on August 1.
Q: There is so much talk about the competition at middle linebacker, rightfully so. But Michael Boley was hurt a lot of last year. This is your first experience with him. What is your comfort level with him?
A: When you are in shorts it is a good comfort level at this point in time because he is very athletic. He can do some things, that make you say, “Wow, man that is a linebacker that can move like that; that can cover like that; that can fill up the run like that in shorts.” When we put on pads I will know what we are made of.
Q: At the same it also doesn’t seem like this is much of a competition factor at the strong side with Clint Sintim as much as there is in the middle. It almost looks like Sintim is getting the bulk of the snaps at that spot.
A: That is not fair. We evenly distributed those out.
Q: How is he progressing?
A: I thought Clint progressed well. We just had that conversation that we thought he grew from Day 1 to this practice tremendously. I thought yesterday’s practice – he really showed us some stuff that Clint Sintim can do. So we thought he made leaps and bounds in our practice sessions all throughout. We did a lot of different things with Clint. He played some middle linebacker for us at times. So I tried to find out as much as I possibly could about our players – not putting them in one specific spot – I know you guys want me to say, “Hey, he is this, he is that.” We tried to do as much as we possibly could and experiment with them so that we could get an appreciation for what they can do.
Q: Is that the idea of having the four defensive ends out there?
A: Yeah, that was the idea of having those guys out there also.
Q: How did they look?
A: They looked good. They are powerful speed guys. They have a lot of talent. They can drop, they can rush. So I just wanted to kind of get a feel for what kind of players they are.
Q: You have some guys up there saying that they all want to see as much playing time as possible. Ultimately you will make the call; Robert Nunn will make the call. How do you look at that? Is it encouraging at all that these guys want to play so much – their competitive nature?
A: Oh yeah, I think it is. If you are a guy that doesn’t want to be a starter and you don’t come out and compete every day to be starter or be the best that you possibly can be, then we have the wrong guy. And so, hey, I want as much competition, I want them to fight for the job. That is what we do. That is what the NFL is all about. There are no hand outs, there are no give outs. You have to fight every day. You have to fight every day for a victory. So we are looking forward to the competition and fighting for our jobs and being the best defense we can possibly be.
Q: On deciding who starts?
A: It is not how you start, it is how you finish.
Q: Defensive line – are you getting a better sense of where you will go or will that not be decided until training camp – who you will play?
A: All of them will play and all will have the equal opportunity to be a starter.
Q: Osi said the best player is going to start.
A: It really is that simple. It really is. You show it day in and day out, it really is that simple.
Q: At the same time, Perry…the impression that the rotation along the defensive line, if guys are getting 45 snaps a piece, that whoever plays the first snap is not really as relevant as to how many and when they play them?
A: That could be a true statement; that could be a true statement. There are a lot of factors and a lot of things that go into a ball game. I think we have a luxury in that we have really some good defensive linemen. I would kind of use them in a number of different ways. That is what I did this spring. That is what I talked to them about in the fall also. And so, again, it is not how you start, it is how you finish. And they all will have different roles. And how they excel in those roles, that is what I am trying to find out. How will they excel in the different roles that we will put them in?
Media Q&A With Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn:
Q: How big a loss is Domenik Hixon to special teams?
A: Definitely a big loss. Such a great team player; very competitive, does everything we ask of him, whether it is offense or special teams. He is a return specialist but he is also is a very good cover guy on kickoff and punt. So you really have to replace four starting positions on the punt/punt return/kickoff/kickoff return.
Q: Mario Manningham and Aaron Ross as possible replacements. Where do you look to first to replace him?
A: You obviously look to who you have. And we do have a lot of talented guys that can do that. We always put a big emphasis early in the OTA’s on guys catching punts. So we will have about eight offensive guys; eight defensive guys and we work them all out and have them catch. But Aaron obviously has the return experience and is something that he has always wanted to do. He has been bugging us to let him do it. This might be his opportunity. Mario is another guy. We have Sinorice (Moss). We have Chad Jones. Last year we had four guys that returned punts for us – Ahmad Bradshaw, Corey Webster even had to do it. We had three guys in one game. So you always have to be prepared to have some depth.
Q: Is Tim Brown a guy who can have a chance with you all?
A: He is another guy that you will look to see if he holds up size wise.
Q: What have you seen out of him that is promising?
A: Yeah, he has got real good quickness and speed.
Q: Is it tough to include Bradshaw in that group this year because of the foot problems that he has had?
A: Obviously. As you come up with these guys you have to see the other jobs they have; their health.
Q: As a starter, it is difficult, I would guess, to have a guy to be a full time punt returner, but if a guy is a nickel back does it make it a little more…?
A: That is up to each individual team and each individual player because there are a few teams that have starters that do it. Right down the road – DeShaun Jackson is their punt returner.
Q: You guys haven’t done that.
A: Domenik did it last year to start the year off for us. But it is not the ideal situation but you put your best guy back there.
Q: Would Chad Jones be an alternative?
A: Yeah, he is definitely a guy that could do it. We evaluated him coming out of college. He didn’t do it all of the time because they had a return specialist that was an all-American. But he did do it in the +50 situation.
Q: Have you guys put him back there at all?
A: Yeah, he has caught punts for us.
Q: How did he look?
A: He looks good. Obviously he has the baseball experience. So anyone that has baseball experience, they track the ball very, very well. So he is always in very good position.
Q: Is that still the first thing – ball security?
A: Oh, yeah. You have to be able to catch it with how far they are kicking now days. You have to make sure you are really secure on the catch, number one, because they are punting the ball to us for a reason. So we want to make sure we give it back to our offense.
Q: What about your punters right now? Are you seeing either take a lead?
A: No, they are really going neck and neck. They are really progressing well. So we have been happy with their development. This is a good session for them – the OTA’s and then the mandatory mini camp and then the next progression for them is the training camp.
Q: If one can hold and the other is not as solid at that, does that make it…?
A: No, they are both really doing well with the holding. That is probably the toughest adjustment that any punter has to make at this level – is getting the hold down exactly how the kicker wants it. And they have both progressed well. Lawrence (Tynes) has done a good job working with them exactly on how he wants the ball.
Q: Has your new punting coach (Jeff Feagles) been a help?
A: Yeah, he has. He has a wealth of knowledge that is important for us. And he is excited to do it. So it was good to have him out here the last couple of days.
Q: Are you a little surprised that he came back because he sounded like he didn’t want any part of coaching? I know he is only kind of part time.
A: I think when you said the ‘coaching’ at his press conference – he kind of put it in the realm of the day to day – the stuff that we do – the full time job. I don’t think he is ready to do that. But he definitely enjoys teaching the art of punting. And that really developed with his son CJ when he taught him a couple of years ago.
Q: Directional kicking is such a science. And obviously Jeff perfected it after all of those years. You have two very inexperienced punters here, which don’t have a lot of directional kicking background. How do you get that out of them?
A: We will get it, we have already started working with the directional aspect of it. And it is something that we think that they can do. Really the thing that we will ask them is, Jeff was putting it outside the numbers. These guys may put in inside the numbers. But they will at least give us some direction and allow us to cover the kick.
Q: So you feel confident that the punter is here right now?
A: Oh, yes.
Article on Linebacker Clint Sintim: Sintim Gets First Shot At Strong Side LB Job by Paul Schwartz of The New York Post
Article on Wide Receiver Ramses Barden: Giants Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride Hoping For More Consistency From Ramses Barden by Mike Garafolo of The Star-Ledger
Article on the New Stadium Turf and WR Domenik Hixon’s Injury: Rolle Believes Turf Caused Hixon’s Injury by Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPNNewYork.com