The Day at Camp: August 16, 2013

I didn’t get to today’s cards practice for personal reasons. I’ll be at the game on Sunday and will be back next week for the last days of Training Camp 2013. So my practice report for today is abbreviated.

Many years ago I recall a conversation I had with the wife of a former NFL player. While she was thankful for the opportunities her family had received because of the NFL, one thing she said to me that I think is fitting for what happened at Giants camp is, “The NFL can sometimes be a cruel, unforgiving (female dog).”

Indeed, as when you see what happened to a guy like tight end Larry Donnell, who missed the entire spring recovering from a broken foot only to come back, make significant progress and then have it all come crashing down due to a knee injury, it’s just a cruel reminder that the NFL is a business that isn’t always fair.

Donnell, who last year was on the practice squad and who this summer, had caught the coaches’ eyes with his play at tight end and as a fullback. So promising was the young man out of Grambling this summer that there were scenarios floating around that had the Giants contemplating keeping four tight ends to start the season.

So what happens? Today in practice, Donnell catches a pass and, according to eyewitness reports, as he turned to run, his leg was twisted underneath him. He’s carted off the field and was later seen leaving the facility on crutches, the team potentially fearing the worst as he undergoes tests this evening .

The sad thing about the NFL is the business side. The game waits for no one. Players also potentially lose their jobs due to injury, especially if their replacement steps in and contributes (anyone remember how Brandon Stokley’s injury opened the door for Victor Cruz?)

But there’s a silver lining for Donnell, who will get the best medical care out there by a team of committed people who will make sure that he can soon resume normal daily activities without any sort of aid. That silver lining is his resolve. After all, that young man fought his way back from a broken foot that kept him sidelined during the spring as far as he did. So there’s no reason to believe that we’ve seen the last of him just yet.

the following players didn’t practice today: safety Antrel Rolle (ankle); safety Cooper Taylor (hamstring); offensive lineman Chris DeGeare (ankle); defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder);  receiver Brandon Collins (hamstring), cornerback Corey Webster (groin); defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee/PUP), fullback Henry Hynoski (knee/PUP), and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (back/PUP).

There was some good news on Pierre-Paul, whom Coughlin said had an “outstanding day” during his rehab work yesterday. “He ran well, he worked in the weight room,” Coughlin said, sounding encouraged. However, the bad news is that Pierre-Paul did experience a little soreness today, so the medical staff dialed him back a bit so that he doesn’t overdo it.

If the cards practice means anything, it looks like Dan Connor will get the start at middle linebacker on Sunday night ahead of Mark Herzlich, who had been the incumbent at the start of camp.

Receiver Hakeem Nicks, who missed last week’s preseason opener, will start on Sunday night. However, cornerback Terrell Thomas will not play against the Colts, as it looks like he’ll get his chance to play the following week, against the Jets.

Coughlin’s plan for Sunday night will see the starters getting 20 snaps, the second stringer getting about 25, and the rest will finish up what’s left in the game. The Giants will only use three quarterbacks in this game, Eli Manning, David Carr, and Ryan Nassib. Curtis Painter will get his chance to shine next week against the Jets.

Cornerback Corey Webster (groin) didn’t practice this week, but since he’s listed as “day to day,” by Coughlin, there is a chance that he could play on Sunday night. My guess though, is he won’t play – no point in risking his long-term health for a meaningless preseason game.

I can’t help but wonder just how significant this injury to Larry Donnell is. Over the last few days, reading between the lines, I got the impression that the Giants were actually thinking about carrying four tight ends given their versatility, size and athleticism.

It’s pointless snow to speculate if they actually would have gone through with that plan, However, given the evolution of the position over the last few years, one can’t help but wonder what offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride might have cooked up given the talent he has at that position and how it might have affected the numbers at other spots such as running back and receiver.

* * *

Former Giants running back Brandon Jacobs was spotted at the team’s facility today. Before anyone goes reading into it,  it was probably just a social call, perhaps for Jacobs to even explore signing a one-day contract so he could retire as a member of the Giants.

I know there are those out there who would love to see Jacobs return this year, but I’d be shocked if that happened. I think the Giants are committed to sticking with the duo of David Wilson and André Brown as their 1-2 punch, and if rookie Michael Cox continues to show progress both as a third down back and on special teams, he’ll likely make the roster.

“Yeah. I didn’t have to do interviews with this many cameras.” Giants’ safety Stevie Brown on if it’s been different for him in this camp vs. last year.

The Giants will host the Colts  in a nationally televised game airing on FOX. Kickoff is at 7:00 PM.

They’ll begin their final week of training camp after a day off on Monday. Please note that Tuesday’s cap practice will run 3:25 – 5:25 PM.Wednesday, which is the last day that training camp will be open to the public, will run from 1:30 to approximately 3:45 p.m.

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