The Day at Camp: August 20, 2013

I remember when I started on the Giants beat. I was a few years removed from college and I was completely lost when it came to doing my job.

Now that I look back on those early years, I realize just how much I didn’t know then – and I’m still learning even though I’ve been in this business for several years. You see, when I need to bounce an idea off someone, I know that all I need to do is pick up the phone and call my mentor, “Dr. L,” the founding editor and publisher of Inside Football.

So my hope, for the sake of all the Giants fans out there, is that Justin Pugh is one of those young players who’s ready to open his ears and eyes and to soak up all the knowledge he’s about to receive from Pro Bowl guard Chris Snee.

“Certainly he has plenty to work on; he’s a young kid,” said head coach Tom Coughlin of Pugh. “Hopefully you put him in there now, and Chris is there to help him — it’s a good move. The more they can work together, the better off we’ll be.”

Although Snee doesn’t play the same position, he’s been around and has some tricks and tips he can surely pass along to his newly assigned protégée. And if Pugh can become anywhere near the kind of impact player as Snee has been throughout his career, the right side of the Giants offensive line could be set for the coming season and perhaps beyond by a year or two.

Missing from today’s practice were receiver Victor Cruz (heel); center David Baas (knee); defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee/PUP), fullback Henry Hynoski (knee/PUP); safety Antrel Rolle (ankle); defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder); cornerback Corey Webster (groin); receiver Ramses Barden (knee); and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (back/PUP).

Offensive lineman David Diehl (thumb) practiced, despite having a hard cast on his right hand.  Also, receiver Jerrel Jernigan (soreness), finally returned to practice where he’s going to hope to hold off Kevin Hardy, who last week capitalized on Jernigan’s absence by stepping into the lineup with the starters after Cruz’s injury.

Safety Cooper Taylor (hamstring);   defensive end Justin Tuck (hamstring); and receiver Brandon Collins (hamstring) all returned to practice.

Defensive end Adrian Tracy left the field early due to dehydration.

Offensive lineman Chris DeGeare (ankle) and receiver Keith Carlos were both waived/injured. There was no immediate word of any replacements, though it should be noted that with the first roster cuts a week from tomorrow, the Giants might not look to replace both positions. However, with the injuries at receiver – Cruz, Murphy and Barden were all missing from practice today, the Giants do have the room to add another receiver if any of those three won’t be available the rest of the summer.

With center David Baas sidelined with a sprained MCL, the Giants’ reshuffled offensive line consisted of left guard Kevin Boothe moving to center; right tackle David Diehl moving to left guard; and rookie Justin Pugh moving to right tackle.

That lineup, which is subject to change, is a bit of a surprise as usually the coaches like to make as few moves as possible in cases like this. However, with the starting offensive line coming off a dismal showing last week and with there still being two more preseason games, the coaches decided to go for broke by reshuffling three of the line’s five spots.

Meanwhile the starting linebackers continue to be Keith Rivers, Dan Connor, and Spencer Paysinger.

Today’s practice was a cards affair, as the Giants first team offense would work against their third team defense, the latter of whom was responsible for creating various Jets looks that might come up in this weekend’s “Snoopy Bowl.”

* Ryan Nassib took a few snaps with the starting offense, badly overthrowing tight end Brandon Myers on a pass. Then, working with the second team, Nassib connected with receiver Julian Talley down the field and later followed that up with a nice pass to tight end Larry Donnell.

* Good rush by Johnathan Hankins to pressure Curtis Painter into throwing the ball early, thereby overshooting the receiver.

* Cornerback Charles James made a pretty play, breaking up a deep Eli Manning pass for Hakeem Nicks. Later in the practice he took a poor angle against David Wilson on a swing pass, as Wilson juked James at the last second, whizzing by him. James also was beaten by a couple of steps by Rueben Randle on a post

* Linebacker Kyle Bosworth managed to get a hand on a Manning pass, batting it away when he came up the middle on a blitz.

* Rookie guard Eric Herman did a nice job of picking up a blitzing Mark Herzlich up the middle.

* Quarterback Curtis Painter, who will get his turn in the battle of the backups, hit Kevin Hardy with a perfectly thrown strike down the middle as Tyler Sash and Cooper Taylor trailed. Painter’s next pass, intended for receiver Marcus Harris, was slightly overthrown, though Harris technically got a hand on it and ended up dropping it.

* Speaking of Harris, on a cards drill, he did a nice job getting Prince Amukamara “blocked” to spring Michael Cox on an outside run.

* Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins is probably going to end up being the steal of the free agency class. I saw him take up two blockers inside.

* Defensive tackle Marvin Austin tried to use a swim move to get underneath a blocker, but had no luck as whoever the offensive lineman was – couldn’t see the number – he seemed to have a nice base and fought off Austin’s attempt well. Later on though, Austin’s swim move worked when he timed the snap count and was into the backfield to “sack” David Carr.

* Two young tight end hopefuls, Chase Clement and Jamie Childers, each had a dropped pass. That’s certainly not the way to impress in what’s a tight competition.

I’ve always admired David Diehl for being a stand-up kind of guy. Win or lose, good times or bad, he’s willing to talk and own up to his mistakes, and that’s a characteristic that’s rare in many of today’s pro athletes.

But where I tend to run into a problem with Diehl and his willingness to talk is in some of what he says. Take for instance his session today with the media in which he admitted his play in Sunday’s preseason game against the Colts wasn’t up to standards.

“The corrections are there to be made,” he said. “I am sure I am going to hear it — I got beat because I am old and I lost a step and all those things. But everything on film is all correctable techniques. The sack that I got beat on, I should have recognized the protection scheme and the adjustments that they made; I set too flat.”

I realize that no such thing as “perfection” — if there is you probably won’t find it on this planet. But what I don’t understand is why these little technique issues such as hand placement and the failures to recognize what other teams are doing are still happening to an 11-year NFL veteran.

For example, Diehl said that he’s going to work on his hand placement. Isn’t that something that should be second nature to him by now given his experience?

Again, it’s not fair to expect perfection on every play. And to be fair, I don’t know the exact nature of all of Diehl’s errors – I was only able to tell so much on tape, which doesn’t tell me assignments and other finer details.

And I admire Diehl for being proactive in attacking his weaknesses, but at some point, when can we expect these fundamental short comings to start to die down to where they’re not seemingly happening more often than not?

“It’s kind of getting my lats strong, but other than that I kind of hate the crutches.” – Wide receiver Victor Cruz, who’s currently in a walking boot and on crutches to keep pressure off his bruised heel.

The Giants wrap up the public part of their 2013 training camp on Wednesday with a practice set to begin at 1:30 p.m. at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. This will be the last practice that is open to the public, so if you’re planning to come, tomorrow is your last chance.


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