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Consistency. As defined by Dictionary.com, it means “steadfast adherence to the same principles, course, form, etc.;” “agreement, harmony, or compatibility, especially correspondence or uniformity among the parts of a complex thing;” and “the condition of cohering or holding together and retaining form; solidity or firmness.”
Whatever definition you prefer, ‘consistency’ is a word that just wasn’t applicable to the New York Giants defense last year. And that has been one of the goals of everyone from the front office to the coaches right on down to the players in this training camp, to become more consistent.
Head coach Tom Coughlin, who has used that word a lot, was asked for his definition as it applies to the defense.
“Fifty-two points, zero the next week. Just a consistent championship level of play from all aspects.”
It’s still early in camp, but so far the changes made on defense seem to be paying off. The energy is better than it was a year ago. There is more fight from the players to get into the backfield to blow up plays, to limit yards after the catch, and to break up passes.
There is better communication – safety Stevie Brown told me today that communication issues in the defensive secondary where an idea was expressed but that not everyone interpreted it the same way, was a problem that they have made a conscious effort to correct this year.
And so far Coughlin, who when asked what identity he’d like for his defense to have this year said he was looking for it to be physical, seems to be pleased with the direction the defense is taking in these early days of camp.
“You have to get an identity. You have to represent something,” he said. “You have to be there week in and week out. You have to have that kind of consistency and you have to control the line of scrimmage. You have to stop the run first before you can rush the pass and we’re capable of both, but we’re certainly going to get tested in both areas.”
He’s also been pleased with the play of the cornerbacks, a unit that was initially thought to be a weakness but one which has so far, as a collective group, had a strong showing in these first two days of camp.
“I’m excited to see this camp evolve in that area,” Coughlin said. “We’re looking for improvement in our secondary play overall. It’s early, so we’ll see.”
It is early, but the promise is certainly there. Can they do it every week? That will be the real test, and that could be the difference between taking a step closer to playing in February across the parking lot in their home building, or watching that game from their homes.
Besides the five on PUP – FB Henry Hynoski, DE Jason Pierre-Paul, RG Chris Snee, CB Terrell Thomas, and DT Markus Kuhn – the only other injuries to speak of were to safety Tyler Sash (cramps), who went down on one of the very last drills of the practice and had to be carted off, and receiver Hakeem Nicks, who after the one-on-one drills was pulled from the practice as a precautionary after experiencing tightness in his groin area.
Linebacker Aaron Curry, who left yesterday’s practice with cramps, was back on the field looking no worse for the wear.
Center David Baas, who today assured reporters that he would be full go by the start of the season, continues to be limited. When Baas is out of the lineup, Kevin Boothe moves over to center and Selvish Capers moves in at left guard.
With the team working on kickoff returns, here’s what I was able to take away as far as lineups. When David Wilson returned kickoffs, his nearest guys were Ryan Torain, Justin Pugh, and Adrien Robinson.
When Jerrel Jernigan took his turn returning kickoffs, Da’Rel Scott was back there with him, the “wedge” guys being Johnathan Hankins and Brandon Myers.
Michael Cox also got a chance to return a kickoff, but I unfortunately didn’t notice the guys nearest him.
The Giants managed to get their entire practice in outside on this, Autograph Day, much to the delight of the fans in attendance, many of whom started lining up around 11 this morning to get good seats. While at one point there was a threat of rain, it only ended up to be a light drizzle which went away before the clouds yielded to the sun.
* The Giants re-introduced one-on-one drills today in which the receivers went against the defensive backs. The highlight of that drill set was a gorgeous tightrope catch by Nicks, who after making the reception, high stepped it for show since it was made in front of the fans. I can’t say for sure if that’s when he started having issues with his groin, but after that series, Nicks wasn’t seen in the practice again.
* TE Adrien Robinson had a nice showing as a receiver. He caught every ball his way, including a couple in which the quarterback put the pigskin where only Robinson could get it. Robinson was also the recipient of a touchdown pass on a fake field goal attempt, as he beat Linval Joseph to the end zone with ease.
* OT Matt McCants, lining up at left tackle with the second string offensive line, at times looks like he’s hesitating. Usually if a guy knows what he has to do, there’s no pause – he just explodes into his man. McCants, who in my opinion still looks a bit lean for the outside position despite having exceptional height, still looks like he’s feeling his way around at that position.
* The left side of the third-string offensive line did not have a good afternoon. OG Chris DeGeare had to resort to holding DE Damontre Moore, who was simply too quick for DeGeare to handle off the snap. Later on, Moore would have likely had two sacks, if not two very blatant holding calls in his favor as DeGeare just couldn’t handle him.
As if things weren’t bad enough for DeGeare, he missed a block that resulted in a running play being blown up in the backfield. On the plus side, though, DeGeare did manage to draw Moore offside on one snap.
* Along that same vein, the linebackers had a field day exploiting that side of that line. LB Kyle Bosworth whizzed past the left side of the offensive line and into the backfield for the stop. Then it was the linebacking duo of Dan Connor and Aaron Curry who ran a jailbreak into the backfield.
* Speaking of Moore, I’ve been noticing how he’s done a good job of timing his releases once the ball is snapped. His timing has been pretty good – almost Osi Umenyiora-like, I’d say — as he’s caught the offense off guard. I’m very interested to see how well he does when the pads go on.
* RB Michael Cox looks very sure on the outside runs and does a great job of knowing when to turn up field. However when asked to run between the tackles, it’s a different story. I’ve noticed a slight hesitation when he comes to the line and as a result, any creases that might be there often times quickly close up.
* WR Kris Adams has had a nice showing since the spring, but today he had a dropped pass that hit him right in the hands. There was some question whether he was trying to fight through a hand injury after appearing to land hard on it as he tried to break his fall on an earlier play. Adams kept flexing his hand and just kept on going.
* CB Aaron Ross very nearly had a pick in the end zone but the ball bounced off of his hands. Although he broke up the play, Ross nonetheless took his punishment like a man and, upon his arrival back at the huddle, dropped to the ground to do pushups.
* QB Ryan Nassib attempted one deep ball to the corner of the end zone, but it was thrown on such a curve that it hung up in the air and was easily knocked way by a defender. He was also picked off by LB Jake Muasau when the quarterback failed to see the linebacker in an 11-on-11 drill. On that interception, Nassib stepped up in the pocket.
* OL James Brewer opened a nice hole for André Brown to exploit up the gut for about a 12-yard gain. Brown is just so lightning-quick – it’s pretty amazing to see him move so well considering he’s had two major injuries to his legs in his career.
* CB Prince Amukamara continues to have a fine camp, breaking up a pass intended for Cruz in the end zone. I think Amukamara was the only one who managed to break up a pass intended for Crus in this practice.
* FB Ryan D’Imperio took a few snaps with the starters and seemed to hold his own. He does a nice job catching the ball out of the backfield – I don’t recall him dropping a single pass. It was interesting that on this, his second day in camp, he got some snaps with the starters as that would seem to show that he’s picking up the playbook quickly.
* CB Trumaine McBride continues to make plays. Today he broke up a deep pass intended for Brandon Collins. McBride stayed stride-for-stride with Collins and at the last minute, knocked the ball away. Those are the kinds of plays that will get a guy a roster spot.
* The coaches finally found someone who could stop “Damonster” – tight end Larry Donnell, who missed the spring with a foot injury but who was cleared for camp, managed to stand up the rookie defensive end as he tried to slip through to the backfield.
*A nice light moment happened during Coughlin’s post practice press conference when former punter Jeff Feagles, who used to hold on field goals and who is now part of the Giants broadcasting crew, asked the head coach why he had more confidence in Steve Weatherford than Feagles to run a fake field goal.
Coughlin smiled and said. “There are many reasons, yes. He can get to the edge, maybe. He didn’t throw it as well as you did, though.”
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
It was interesting to note that in the 11-on-11s, David Wilson and André Brown have been rotatingas far as taking the first handoff of the series. Coughlin was asked about that and as usual, he gave his standard, “We’ll see” response.
You might remember a few years ago, Brandon Jacobs, who was coming into camp as the starter, suddenly began rotating with Ahmad Bradshaw on that first handoff in camp practices; eventually Bradshaw became the starter.
I’m not saying that means that Brown is going to start ahead of Wilson, but it’s worth keeping an eye on, especially with the players set to put pads on for Tuesday’s practice. That’s when we should be able to better gauge if Wilson has made any progress in his pass blocking abilities.
The Giants’ three-day acclimation period (translation: shorts and shells) ends tomorrow. Starting Tuesday, the team will be in full pads.