It’s only been two days of practices, but already head coach Tom Coughlin has told his guys to take a break.
That’s right, despite the coach saying he’s given his team breaks “for a thousand years” (maybe water breaks but never like what they go today for the simple reason this is their only third camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center), this was the first time that I can remember the team actually taking a short break in the middle of practice to retreat from the hot and humid outdoor conditions into the cool field house.
“Yeah I had five minutes extra so I gave them a break,” Coughlin said when asked about it. “The breaks have been going on for a thousand years; I don’t know how many camps you’ve been too.”
I didn’t ask the question and I’ve been to a lot of camps, but I’m pretty sure there haven’t been any breaks like this before. But I digress.
Anyway, after Tuesday’s heat-filled affair which saw several players have to be carted off for IV fluids, Coughlin realized that it was important to give his guys a quick rest. (I should note that the players have been coming out for their 1:20 p.m. practice as early as 50 minutes, which is something else that I don’t recall seeing.)
The funny thing is that Coughlin admitted that he didn’t want to give them the break today after seeing how the humidity of the day was broken up at times due to cloud coverage.
“We had breeze and cloud cover, but I said I was going to do it so I went ahead and did it,” he said.
So are the breaks here to stay?
“If I keep it, it will be because of the heat we experienced yesterday (with the players carted off). There’s nothing wrong with that. It does give the sense of second half, first half. It gives them a chance to cool a bit and come back and go and gives me a better opportunity to … after they’ve had the break, they should be flying around. There are some pluses to it.”
Hey, training camp is a marathon and not a sprint, so whatever keeps the guys fresh, I say go for it.
Receiver Odell Beckham, Jr., who cut short a route in yesterday’s practice, has a confirmed hamstring strain, according to general manager Jerry Reese. Coughlin also confirmed that it’s the same hamstring the rookie nursed in the spring.
If that’s not bad enough, Coughlin said he didn’t know how long the rookie would be limited. That’s not what you want to see from your first round pick, and certainly not from a player for whom you have high expectations for your offense.
Now for the good news. Linebacker Jameel McClain (foot) was able to work today, although the team did dial it back just a little with him,
“I don’t think he was as effective as yesterday but he was out there plugging away,” Coughlin said.
Left tackle Will Beatty (leg) and guard John Jerry (knee) continue to do a little more each day. Coughlin was particularly pleased with Beatty’s progress, saying, “He’s not over-doing it but he’s doing more than we expected.”
Cornerback Trumaine McBride (hip) told reporters earlier today that he still hasn’t been fully cleared to do the team part of practice.
I’m not going to repeat the lineups every time, but I will give you updates as they occur.
Brandon Mosley, who left practice yesterday with an upset stomach, was back working at right guard. Mark Herzlich continued to take snaps with the starters at inside linebacker.
The Giants also continue to rotate their fullbacks, John Conner and Henry Hynoski, in with the first team.
“I guess that fits into that old saying – you look good, you feel good, you play good. It’s one of those things.” – Defensive end Damontre Moore on his new space-age looking facemask approved by the league for his use this season.
–It looks like an early theory I had about running back Andre Williams becoming the team’s shorty yardage and red zone back might just be taking shape after all. Williams really is a powerfully built runner who does a nice job of squaring his shoulders and plowing through the line.
“I am just looking to contribute anyway I can, and continue to do well in practice,” Williams said when asked how he thinks he can contribute moving forward. “Have the coaches have faith in me so they can get me on the field in any capacity they think I can fit in.”
So far so good on that front.
–I thought Adrien Robinson had a nice showing today. Robinson was smooth looking in getting into the seam and making a reception in stride. A little later in the practice, he burned linebacker Mark Herzlich on a route to come up with another receptions. Robinson really looks at ease out there in the passing game. With that said, yesterday when lining up as the H-back and from the fullback spot, he had some hiccups. So stay tuned, as he’s still a work in progress.
–Weston Richburg teamed with John Conner to open up a nice hole for Andre Williams. I’ve been impressed with how quickly Richburg gets out of his stance and into his man and I still believe that he’s going to be in the starting lineup sooner than later, probably at guard.
–Besides being beaten by Robinson on a pass play, Herzlich looked to be the guilty party who, in trying to time a blitz, ended up being blatantly offside. While he gave good pursuit on some other plays, almost all of his tackles in this practice seem to come in pursuit mode.
–Ryan Nassib made an ill-advised throw after getting his feet tangled with running back Peyton Hillis. Nassib looked like he had plenty of time to reset his feet, but instead he threw off-balance, the ball picked off by safety C.J. Barnett for the Pick-6.
–You’re probably going to get sick of me saying this, but I really like running back Kendall Gaskins. He has very good vision—he spotted a couple of holes that seemed to close up as quickly as they opened—and the burst to get through those holes. He remains someone to keep an eye on.
–The “Pocket Rocket” – running back David Wilson’s self-given moniker, looked good running the ball today as well. Wilson was used on a number of outside runs, showing a nice little burst and wiggle in the process. He’s really going to be exciting to watch in space.
–Tackle Troy Kropog, working with the second and third stringers, had a rough afternoon against the defense. Kropog is slow out of his stance and doesn’t consistently get underneath the pads of the defender. As a result, he gets pushed back and, at times, tossed aside.
–Nice job by receiver Rueben Randle on a play-action pass that was actually a tad short. Randle, realizing the ball thrown by Eli Manning wasn’t going to be on target, came back for it, leaving the defender behind.
–We got to see a bit from the fullbacks today, working from the I-formation. I’ll start with John Conner. Conner had one nice reception, catching the call in stride. In terms of “blocking” (remember, there aren’t pads allowed yet), Conner appeared to identify the right man, and although the play went away from his side, he wasn’t shy about meeting the defender head on. It was quite amusing to see defensive tackle Kerry Wynn flinch a bit when he saw the Terminator come at him on a running play.
–Wynn made up for it though by stuffing Kendall Gaskins on a running play between the right guard and right tackle. Nice job by the rookie defender to get off his block, and get into position to stop the runner.
–I thought it was a mixed bag for Henry Hynoski, though again, there are no pads yet in practice which will tell the real story. On one play, it looked like safety Antrel Rolle just dashed by him in the flat, but I couldn’t tell if Rolle was still in bounds or if Hynoski took a poor angle. On another play, Hynoski was “blocking” for a running back, but looked like he turned the defender inside toward where the play was going, getting a piece of the defender’s outside shoulder.
–Nice job by defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka and Jacquian Williams on a jailbreak to flush Ryan Nassib out of the pocket. Kiwanuka, who did not have a good season last year, is moving very well so far and is clearly playing with a purpose.
–If running back Michael Cox is on the bubble, he’s not going to go down without a fight. He is probably the second quickest back on the team and to watch him burst around the edge and up field was a sight to behold.
–Defensive tackle Everett Dawkins had no trouble beating offensive tackle DeMarcus Love, who failed to get underneath the defender’s pads. The result was a “sack” against quarterback Curtis Painter.
–After looking so promising in the spring, receiver Trindon Holliday had a dropped pass in seven-on-sevens. When you’re fighting for a roster spot, you can’t be dropping passes.
— I have to admit I’ve been impressed by kicker Brandon McManus, who made all of his field goal attempts today. McManus has a strong leg and just might make it an intense competition for the kicking job after all. It will be interesting to see if the Giants go with Josh Brown, who’s also been steady, but who is advancing in age, or if they decide that McManus is their kicker of the future.
— Painter, he ended practice by rolling out and throwing a poor ball at tight end Larry Donnell.
THE FINAL WORD
This is just an early observation on my part, but I’ve noticed that quarterback Eli Manning is calling fewer audibles at the line of scrimmage.
Now that’s probably a result of him not having the offense down 100 percent yet, or maybe it’s the concept of the new language making it easier to call audibles. Whatever the case, there have been two benefits to emerge from this.
One, there have been far fewer delay-of-game buzzers sounding off this camp. Sur, you still get the occasional one here and there, but I’m noticing that it’s happening more with Ryan Nassib at the helm so far in this camp than it is with Manning.
Two, it contributes to the offense playing more up-tempo. I always thought all the gesturing, audibles, etc. made for confusion with some of the players.
By going back to the “KISS” method (keep things simple silly), the Giants offense is starting to fly around out there and is not allowing the defense to adjust as well as it did in the past.
We’ll see how that goes when they get into the preseason games, but file this note away for when you watch the games and let me know if you don’t see a difference as well in the time it takes for Manning to have the ball snapped.