It’s been a long time since there was some real football to watch.
While I wouldn’t exactly call today’s OTA “live” football since the players work in pads and no live contact is allowed, it was still a good opportunity to get a look at the new offense, some of the new players, and to get back into the swing of things.
Before I give you some of my observations, I want to remind you of a few things.
First, because there is no live contact, there’s not much I can tell you about the play of the offensive and defensive lines other than offering a thought or two on fundamentals and, in some cases, missed assignments.
Second, there is no depth chart right now. New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together while defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has a few pieces of his own as well to work with. So just because someone is/isn’t working with the starters, that doesn’t mean anything right now.
So please when you read this and other reports from today, take it all with a grain of salt. Trust me when I say you’ll save yourself a lot of angst if you do.
First the good news.
Quarterback Eli Manning (ankle), running back David Wilson (neck) and safety Stevie Brown (knee) all worked today.
You can read more about Manning’s amazing outlook from summer intern Emily Iannaconi, who reported that the quarterback and team in general is upbeat over the fact that Manning has had no setbacks considering his quest for doing as much as possible.
Brown took snaps with the starters, ahead of Will Hill, who awaits word on his appeal to overturn another league-imposed suspension stemming from allegedly violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
Head coach Tom Coughlin said there has been no timetable established for word on Hill’s appeal, so to be on the safe side, they’re trying to get Brown ready.
“Stevie’s had a good winter. He’s been in here rehabbing the whole time,” Coughlin said. “He’s gone through both the first and second phases very well. He’s running very well so we’re very happy with that.”
Of course, there is a “but” to the equation.
“He does have some… we’re watching him, let’s put it that way,” Coughlin continued. “He is what we call ‘limited,’ but he has been able to demonstrate that he has prepared himself well.”
Wilson will be visiting the doctor on June 4 to have a MRI. He’s hoping that this MRI convinces doctors to let him return to full action.
Wilson is a very energetic sort and it’s clearly eating at him to not have that clearance he so desperately wants. And if he doesn’t get it during his appointment, he said, “I’ll probably start kicking field goals.”
Better start praying, Josh Brown. (Just kidding.)
Left tackle Will Beatty (leg) and receiver Mario Manningham (knee) will not work at all this spring, per Coughlin, who said, “Supposedly they’ll be ready for the fall.”
My guess is that both players start summer camp on the PUP list.
The longer they’re out, the more concerned I think there might be about them falling behind because classroom work is only one-half of the battle. There comes a time when you have to apply what you learn u the classroom on the field.
Offensive lineman John Jerry underwent a knee scope, which probably explains why James Brewer was in at left tackle for Beatty.
Actually, Brewer has been rotating with Charles Brown at that position so we’ll see where that goes.
The New Offense
Other than one instance in which the play clock expired (this under Manning’s watch), this new offense is indeed more fast-paced and more energetic.
There were a number of three-step drops in this workout and it was exciting to see the receivers get into space and try to make things happen.
There was some no-huddle mixed in, and a handful of the traditional five-step drops sprinkled in.
Yes, there was even a hand-off to a fullback in a drill, the lucky recipient being Henry Hynoski.
No, the offense wasn’t always pretty, and in fact, Coughlin acknowledged that this is a work in progress.
“We sailed through phase two pretty well, just working on opposite fields, but as far as understanding what was wanted and communicating on offense, I felt that was good,” he said.
“That still’s good, we demonstrated that. It’s now the execution. It comes a little bit slower obviously when you put somebody over there on defense. Both sides of the ball are making a lot of adjustments and it’s a good thing and we’re obviously into special teams as well.”
There was also a bit of work done on screens. Again, it wasn’t always pretty, but that’s what the spring and summer are for.
Perhaps if McAdoo continues to force the issue, the Giants will be polished at running screens come opening day.
* I’ll start off by talking about right guard Chris Snee. Having seen him move around, I can now understand why there’s been optimism about him being able to come back. He moved very well, got up out of his stance quickly enough, and didn’t seem to lumber. He didn’t do much in the way of pulling, so his mobility is still a question mark. However, what he showed today at least was very encouraging.
* Snee’s biggest competition for his job appears to be rookie Weston Richburg, who also saw snaps at center with the 2’s. (Richburg and Dallas Reynolds flip-flopped between guard and center on alternating series). Again, it was hard to tell much regarding the offensive line given that there was no live blocking, though about the only thing that did jump out of me was when Reynolds stepped inside and his man went to the opposite side, thus getting around him and into the backfield for a “sack.”
* If there was a depth chart right now, Ryan Nassib, and not Curtis Painter, would be the No. 2 quarterback right now. However, I can’t say that Nassib threw the ball well at all today. His short throws lacked touch and in fact, it looked like he forced a few throws that went off target. Nassib was also the only quarterback picked off today, this by cornerback Charles James, who came up with the Pick-6. James did a nice job of showing patience and then jumping in front of the receiver for the pick.
*Rueben Randle got a good deal of work today, making several nice catches including a few in traffic. Randle was also sharp in practice last year as well before hitting some hiccups when the season started, so we’ll see if he can keep building off what appears to be a positive start so far.
* I didn’t think Eli Manning threw the ball consistently today, but as Coughlin said, these first couple of days is the first time they’ve had a defense in front of them. As they all get more familiar with executing this offense, these bumps should go away.
* It was surprising to see Trindon Holliday used on offense. Holliday, who was presumably signed to be a return specialist, is listed as a wide out, but at 5-5 tall, one might think that his use as a wide out would be extremely limited. Maybe his chances came because of Odell Beckham not being there today and Mario Manningham being on the side, but Holliday made the most of his opportunities, showing good technique and concentration on catching passes. Therefore, we’ll see if he gets additional opportunities with the offense.
* I thought tight end Adrien Robinson had a good practice. Robinson looked very patient going over the middle. His routes, from what I could see, were all run crisply. I didn’t see any drops from him; he also came up with a sliding reception on an off-target throw and he did a nice job on another pass in which he used his body to shield the ball from the defender.
* Rookie tight end Xavier Grimble was at the end of an incomplete pass. He got an earful from new tight ends coach Kevin M. Gilbride, a good sign that Grimble ran the wrong route.
* Last week Robinson told reporters that the tight end position is going to be asked to do more. Today, I sat for a bit with Larry Donnell to get more information about that and Donnell said that we’re going to see the tight end used in ways that the position wasn’t used last year more often. I’ll have more specifics on that in the coming days.
The question is, do the Giants have the personnel to fill all of these roles or might they try to bring in Jermichael Finley, who today received medical clearance from the Packers’ doctor, to return to action?
Going back to the returners, Holliday is not only quick out there, I can also see where his lack of height works to his advantage. Put a wall of blockers in front of him and good luck trying to find him.
*I really like watching Rashad Jennings run. The best way I can describe it is like he has a computer in his head that scans the situation before him and once he picks one out, he’s off to the races. We’ll see how he does when there’s contact allowed, but I thought he ran well when given the ball.
*Peyton Hillis saw a good number of passes out of the backfield and didn’t drop a single ball. Speaking of Hillis, he put the gun show on display—he clearly hit the weight room hard this offseason and you can see it in his arms.
The next media access is a week from today. More from the OTAs at that time.