AUGUST 5, 2022 NEW YORK GIANTS TRAINING CAMP REPORT… (by Sy’56)
It was a very typical humid, uncomfortable, August night. Usually we are on the field just a few yards away from the action, but tonight we were up in the press box. There are advantages to both. I get to see more of the macro-level concepts and combinations from up top and it is easier to get eyes on multiple players and matchups at once. On the field, however, it is easier to hone in on the techniques as well as getting the real feel for contact, power, and balance. This is why, when I go on college scouting trips in the fall, I love having access to both. Because I had to stay upstairs the entire time, I went in with the focus on:
- One-on-one matchups
- Offense vs. defense pressure (pass rush)
- Daniel Jones progressing through reads
- Personnel groupings
The beat writers do an excellent job giving play-by-play via their Twitter feeds. If you want more of that, head over there. They don’t miss a thing.
-If there was one thing I watched the most, it was Andrew Thomas vs. Kayvon Thibodeaux. Thomas, it being year 3 of his career, is more established and has performed on the pro stage. Thibodeaux is the shiny new toy. Tonight? You could easily force a newbie into believing otherwise and I mean that in the best way possible. Thibodeaux was incredibly impressive. His variety of moves (both inside and outside shoulder) look so refined already. His space and situational awareness combined with elite-level balance and control constantly gave him the upper hand. He had multiple pressures but was also a factor setting the edge as a run defender.
Who won between these two? Thibodeaux. That is not an indictment against Thomas, by the way. It was just good a good old, classic matchup between two good players. Thomas looks the part of a quality NFL left tackle. Speed, quickness, staying square, and strong hands. This is more of a compliment to the Giants rookie edge rusher. Thomas did get flagged twice though (holding/false start).
One final thing. I saw two plays where Thibodeaux dropped in to coverage. He moved faster and easier than all of their inside linebackers. He dropped 10-15 yards in a blink, stayed low, and showed the feel for a route combination by wide receivers. It was very impressive.
-Last time I was at camp (without full pads), Dexter Lawrence was abusing the Giants interior offensive line. Jon Feliciano did not dress. Tonight, he did and it made a world of difference. Feliciano gets to the defender fast and brings immediate power. I knew he was feisty but the snap and violence he showed from his hands stood out. Also good to see some attitude. He tossed rookie Micah McFadden to the ground at the whistle on one of the final reps. As karma usually does, it showed up a play or two later where Lawrence put Feliciano on his butt and made a TFL on a running play inside the 5-yard line.
Lawrence has stood out to be both times I have seen this defense play live. He will finally be in the role I always envisioned him in.
-Adoree’ Jackson and Aaron Robinson played sticky in coverage on the outside. Jackson looks a step or two above, but against this subpar WR group, they both appeared to handle their coverage roles with ease. Kenny Golladay can only separate on initial quick-strike slant passes. However, as they get into 5-7 step drop backs and/or the play gets extended, those two were attached to him all over the field.
Golladay can be a factor on these quick passing plays because of his size, but it will require accuracy from Jones which I am not seeing. More on him later.
-Darnay Holmes had another strong practice. The unquestioned nickel if you’re asking me. He did get flagged for a hold early on (he really needs to fix that) but Wink Martindale used him on disguised blitzes a few times and he got home. He would have finished with a sack on the play where Jones hit rookie WR Wan’Dale Robinson for a long gain. He did not have the feel for coverage against Robinson and Kadarius Toney the way Julian Love did. Love made anticipated breaks on the ball a couple of times and was fast enough for man coverage against all of the NYG receivers.
-The one backup matchup that was fun to watch was cornerback Zyon Gilbert against Darius Slayton. This was with the 3rd string (yes, Slayton is a 3rd stringer). There were several downfield targets thrown at this matchup and Gilbert won all of them. He is long and nimble, attacks the ball with great timing and accuracy. Slayton did not have any standout plays. He simply did not display the necessary ball skills (timing, accuracy, coordination). Now, the throws from Davis Webb could have been better, but I would have liked to see Slayton make the play at least once. I believe he was 0-for-5.
-I discussed a couple of individual matchups already. On a macro level, I loved the complexity we saw from Martindale. On multiple occasions we saw the front bring 6-7 guys up to the line pre-snap, spread out evenly. Then, once the ball was snapped, all of the rushers on one side of the center dropped back and all of the rushers on the other side pursued the passer. While there are advantages for the defense in these situations, it was simply good to see what we have discussed with Martindale: aggression, speed, and the no-fear approach.
-Mark Glowinski had a quiet night and I mean that in the best way possible. Never saw him beat. Evan Neal had a back-and-forth night. He handled the edge well but got into trouble when his man rushed inside. The same balance issues I saw at Alabama and discussed multiple times showed up, and it isn’t just speed that gets him. Rookie defensive tackle D.J .Davidson beat him badly on one play, not exactly a guy known for his suddenness.
-The one guy I did not get a good feel for was Shane Lemieux. He was with the 1’s at left guard and played some OC with the 2’s. Not having film in these situations can make it tough. I did see him matched up against Leonard Williams a few times and Williams did not stand out in any way, so that could be a win for Lemieux. Can’t say that for sure, though.
-Elerson Smith looked to be Thibodeaux’s backup. He saw some action with the 1’s, but was mostly with the 2’s. He only had one play where you could make a case he had an impactful pressure. To me, it looks like he is trying hard to get his foot / hand placement down and playing it slow. There isn’t juice off the edge but he does firmly plant his legs into the ground to hold his positioning.
-Rookie Josh Ezeudu is going to be a factor this year. We discussed this in May after the draft, but the notion is even stronger now. He played right and left tackle, and left guard. He looks so natural with his footwork and patience. He got beat once in pass protection, I’m not sure against who. But this versatility is going to get him on the field and a case COULD be made he is one of the best 5 linemen on the team right now.
-I won’t beat around the bush. Jones did not look good. Again, it would help to have film to re-watch a few plays. But his overall accuracy and feel weren’t there. He was inches away from an early pick-six to Adoree’ Jackson. It was a slightly late throw AND it was inaccurate on a simple read and toss. He air mailed a simple throw to Daniel Bellinger (saw the same thing last time I was at practice). He overthrew Robinson on a downfield pass with touchdown potential by at least 6 yards. He held on the ball for too long 2 or 3 times (could be a coverage win though). He did not feel where the pressure came from on the complex blitzes Martindale sent. And lastly, he did not show a smooth feel when moving within the pocket.
Again, Jones’ best plays were scrambles and runs where the defense is not allowed to breathe on him, let alone tackle.
I remain on the side of the fence that this isn’t going to work if you “need” an answer from me on that subject.
-Tyrod Taylor (playing against the 2’s) had the best pure throws of the night. He showed much better body control and had a quicker release when he gets moved off his platform via the pass rush. He went downfield to Collin Johnson 3 or 4 times and I feel more confidence he is going to get the ball to where it needs to be.
-Rookie inside linebackers Darian Beavers and Micah McFadden appeared to be second string: McFadden playing more of the MIKE role and Beavers playing more of the WILL role. I enjoyed watching them; they both move well in coverage. Beavers surprised me with how much depth he got on his drop backs. Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin both played with the 3’s (some action with 2’s) but I think their roster spots are safe because of special teams. Brown stands out there. Speed, aggression, length, and ability to get through traffic.
-Justin Ellis and Nick Williams are both backup defensive tackles with Williams showing some looks on the outside shoulder of the tackle. Neither will impress as pass rushers but they are both stout and powerful. I feel good about both when it comes to run defense and giving Williams + Lawrence a break.
-Andrew Adams is clearly the top backup safety. His play speed, anticipation, and reaction time stood out in comparison to the others. We know this is a thin group and I do expect this front office to add a safety once roster cutdowns get under way. But with how much they want to move Love around, we are going to see Adams get meaningful snaps.
-The backup running backs Matt Breida and Antonio Williams are my front runners to make this team. They could keep 4 on the roster and that will likely come down to Corbin vs. Brightwell. Corbin saw punt return action and that could end up getting him the spot.
-The backup offensive line looks SO MUCH more refined that what we have seen in the past. Ezeudu who I discussed along with Max Garcia made for a really solid left side. Jamil Douglas and the newly signed Will Holden won their matchups. Holden was a guy I liked coming out of Vanderbilt a few years ago and while it is easy to see there is a low ceiling to his talent, his hands looked heavy and he stays square. I think he makes this practice squad and has an outside shot at making the 53 because he can play tackle.
-The tight end group remains a mystery. Bellinger looks to be TE1 as long as Ricky Seals-Jones is off of the field. Jordan Akins is a 3rd stringer. Rookie UDFA Andre Miller caught the touchdown with the 1’s. It just looks like it isa group that is all over the place and for me, I don’t see any starting-caliber players and I don’t see any difference makers.
-I remain unimpressed by the offense as a whole. While Saquon Barkley did display his elite burst and speed on a couple of plays, which I am encouraged about, it is going to come down to the passing game. Simply put, is Jones good enough? Are the receivers going to make plays? I am confident the offensive line and overall scheme will be improved. But the two concerns I noted are enough to keep this offense as a whole in the cellar.
-On the flip side, I am very encouraged by the defense and their potential to keep things close. They should be able to accomplish that in a variety of ways. Thibodeaux already looks like the most important player on this side of the ball. And step one to being difference-making pass rusher is the ability to consistently win one-on-one matchups. He was the winner against Andrew Thomas last night, a guy I have graded as one of the top-10 left tackles in football.
A potential stud pass rusher, a potential stud free safety in Xavier McKinney, potential two stud interior guys in Williams and Lawrence, and a scheme that knows how to create confusion for opposing passers can make a lot of noise on that side of the ball.
I plan to be at practice at least two of the next three days.
ROSTER MOVES – GONO’S CAREER MAY BE OVER…
Right tackle Matt Gono was placed on the Exempt/Left Squad List on Wednesday. ESPN is reporting that Gono may have a career-ending neck injury. The Giants signed Gono in March 2022 as a street free agent. The 6’4”, 305-pound Gono was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2018 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons released him in January.
The Giants also waived outside linebacker Niko Lalos. The Giants signed Lalos as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft. Lalos spent most of the season on the Practice Squad but was elevated to the 53-man roster in December. He played in six games with no starts as a rookie (17 percent of all defensive snaps in those games). Lalos finished the season with six tackles, one interception, one pass defense, and one fumble recovery. Lalos spent 2021 on the team’s Practice Squad.
To fill those roster vacancies, the Giants claimed safety Nate Meadors off of waivers from the Cleveland Browns on Thursday, and signed street free agent offensive tackle Will Holden on Friday.
The 25-year old, 5’11”, 194-pound Meadors was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Minnesota Vikings after the 2019 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Vikings (2019-2020), Jacksonville Jaguars (2020-2021), Philadelphia Eagles (2021), and Browns (2021-2022). He has only played in three NFL games, all with the Vikings in 2019-2020.
The 28-year old, 6’7”, 312-pound Holden was originally drafted in the 5th-round of the 2017 NFL Draft by the Arizona Cardinals. He has spent time with the Cardinals (2017-2018, 2018-2019), Indianapolis Colts (2018, 2020), New Orleans Saints (2018), Miami Dolphins (2019), Seattle Seahawks (2019), San Francisco 49ers (2019), Baltimore Ravens (2019-2020) Indianapolis Colts (2020), and Detroit Lions (2021). Holden has played in 27 regular-season games with nine starts, including at left tackle, right tackle, and guard.
INJURY REPORT – MARCUS McKETHAN SUFFERS LEG INJURY…
The following players remain on injury lists:
- Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List: WR Sterling Shepard (Achilles), OC Nick Gates (leg), and OT Matt Peart (knee)
- Reserve/Non-Football Injury (NFI) List: LB Azeez Ojulari (hamstring)
WR David Sills (unknown), WR Robert Foster (unknown), TE Ricky Seals-Jones (unknown), CB Rodarius Williams (returning from ACL), S Dane Belton (broken left collarbone), and S Nate Meadows (unknown) did not practice.
OG/OT Marcus McKethan suffered what could be a serious right leg injury during practice. He was carted off the field. “We’ll see what happened with Marcus, take a look at that tonight. Give you guys an update the next time I see you,” said Head Coach Brian Daboll. “Obviously, a lower body but we will see where it’s at.”
THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:
WHAT’S UP NEXT…
There is no media or public availability to the team on Saturday. The players have the day off. The team returns to practice on Sunday morning (10:00AM-noon). The practice is open to the public. Head Coach Brian Daboll and select players will also address the media.