See more of comedian/cartoonist Pat Lamb’s work on his web site www.patlamb.com
And connect with Pat on Twitter: @lambchops1
See more of comedian/cartoonist Pat Lamb’s work on his web site www.patlamb.com
And connect with Pat on Twitter: @lambchops1
The Giants are not the only team that suffered injuries during this preseason. The Carolina Panthers lost wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin to a torn ACL last week, while the Green Bay Packers will be without wide receiver Jordy Nelson in 2015 due to the same injury. Benjamin suffered his injury during a training camp practice, while Nelson collapsed while planting his leg to turn up field following a catch in the Packers preseason game yesterday afternoon with the Pittsburgh Steelers. While these injuries are unfortunate, they create an opportunity for Jerry Reese, who has a surplus of wide receivers and needs along the offense line and in the secondary.
With Odell Beckham, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Dwayne Harris, and Geremy Davis on the roster, the Giants are stacked at wide receiver. Tom Coughlin is also fond of veteran Preston Parker, and Corey Washington, while not performing at as high a level as he did in the 2014 preseason, has enough talent to warrant another season of development. Veteran James Jones leads the team this preseason with 7 receptions for 94 yards and demonstrated that he has plenty of gas left in his tank. He’s a luxury to the Giants, and one they can afford to trade. As a veteran receiver familiar with the Packers offense, he would have particular value to Green Bay, but shopping him to both wide receiver needy teams would be prudent.
While a draft pick would be a viable return for Jones, it’s unlikely he would bring back more than a fifth round pick, given his age (31) and the one year contact he signed with the Giants. An offensive lineman or a safety would more valuable and provide an immediate return on investment for Reese, rather than waiting until the 2016 season for satisfaction.
Lane Taylor is a third year player from Oklahoma State University. Backing up guard Josh Sitton, Taylor sees little playing time for the Packers, but has rated out well this preseason according to Pro Football Focus. By adding another guard to the Giants offensive line mix, Geoff Schwartz could be moved to right tackle and it would give Offensive Line Coach Pay Flaherty another young veteran lineman to work into the mix. In addition, it would allow both Marshall Newhouse and John Jerry to return to backup positions, where they are best suited to reside.
Kurt Coleman is a 27 year old backup free safety for the Carolina Panthers. Having signed with the Panthers as a free agent after spending four season with the Philadelphia Eagles and one with the Kansas City Chiefs, Coleman is an experienced coverage safety who would fill the Giants need for a veteran at the position. With Ted Ginn, Jerricho Cotchery, and Corey “Philly” Brown as the next men up for the Panthers to replace second year receiver Benjamin, the Panthers need at wide receiver is significant. Jones is not as familiar with the Panthers’ offensive system as he is with the Packers’, but a saavy veteran will pick up any offense in short order.
Reese needs to strike while the iron is hot and make his move early this week before another General Manager beats him to the punch. Jones has shown he can still play at a high level in the NFL and both the Packers and Panthers would benefit from his services. The Giants need help along the offensive line or at safety more than they need Jones to play third or fourth wide receiver. Trading him just makes sense, so Jerry, pick up the phone and start dialing.
A Win is A Win
Even in the Preseason, winning is preferable to losing. The Giants played better on both offense and defense, beating the Jaguars by a final score of 22-12. Ryan Nassib threw for 217 yards and a touchdown, and James Jones caught 5 passes for 83 yards, as the Giants outscored Jacksonville 13-3 after halftime. It was a costly victory for the Giants, as another five players were lost to injury, including linebacker Jon Beason and safety Bennett Jackson, both with sprained knees. Mark Herzlich suffered a concussion on the opening kickoff, linebacker Tony Johnson suffered a knee injury, and rookie safety Justin Currie broke his ankle. Fourteen players did not suit up, and while many were precautionary and would have played if this were a regular season game, injuries are becoming a concern again for this Giants team.
If you watched until the bitter end, you learned a few things about your 2015 New York Giants, and today we take a look at five things you might not have known before last night’s game.
On another hot and humid day in New Jersey, the Giants held their last practice prior to Saturday night’s second preseason game with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In his pre-practice press conference, Tom Coughlin announced that wide receiver Victor Cruz, who is battling a minor calf strain, will “Probably not” play in the game.
The Giants starting offensive line will be unchanged, with John Jerry and Marshall Newhouse making up the right side, despite the frequent substitutions during this week’s practices. Coughlin did say that Geoff Schwartz would “Get his opportunities” to play at both the right guard and right tackle positions.
Coughlin declined to comment on who would start at the safety positions against Jacksonville, but did say that new arrival Brandon Meriweather was still learning terminology and would see limited action in the same. With Prince Amukamara back at practice, the secondary received some reinforcements, but it is unclear if he would play against the Jaguars. Nat Berhe has been limited to individual drills only while continuing to recover from a calf injury.
Expect the starters to play into the second quarter on Saturday night, as Coughlin said they will “Go a little longer than they did the other day.” Asked that he wants to see from the team in this game, Coughlin answered succinctly, “Improvement.”
As practice started, the list of players sidelined continues to grow, starting with Cruz, Landon Collins (knee), Cooper Taylor (toe), Jayron Hosley (concussion), Rueben Randle (tendinitis), Julian Talley (walking boot), Will Beatty (pectoral), and George Selvie (knee) were all absent from practice. Shortly after the session, in which the team wore uppers, began, Chandler Fenner limped off the field and was examined by trainers. Collins is improving, and did some individual drills and sprinting on the sidelines.
With multiple receivers sidelined, James Jones and Geremy Davis were given some snaps with the starters. Jerome Cunningham took some snaps with the first team at tight end. Odell Beckham caught a crossing route and took it 85 yards for a touchdown, thrilling his teammates and the crowd. Cunningham also caught a touchdown over linebacker Mark Herzlich.
Schwartz started the day with the second team offensive line, taking snaps at right guard. Towards the end of practice, he took some snaps with the first team at right guard.
Ben McAdoo, Offensive Coordinator: Go Out and Make Plays
Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo was disappointed that the productivity the Giants offense had in practice didn’t translate into the game against the Cincinnati Bengals. He thought the team came out flat, but have made progress in this week’s practice. McAdoo wants the offense to come out against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Saturday night and execute. It’s not about numbers, but about making plays, protecting the football, and putting points on the scoreboard.
McAdoo has set the goals for the season “High,” but won’t share them publicly, although he did say there is only one ultimate goal in the NFL. If the media and fans want insight into the offense’s goals, McAdoo suggests trying to get it from the players.
Don’t blame the offensive line for the Giants offensive woes, said McAdoo, who believes the unit is in a much better place than they were a year ago. That includes right tackle Marshall Newhouse, who McAdoo called “An athletic guy and a smart guy, and a player who is growing comfortable with the guys around him and growing into the role. He did hedge his statement by pointing out that other players are being tried at the position, but showed confidence in Newhouse.
The Giants offense won’t be looking for penalties are part of their strategy for moving the ball. McAdoo says that fundamentally the players need to fight through contact and make plays on the field. While he’s willing to accept the benefit of a flag for pass interference or illegal contact, it’s up to the players to make plays and “Not rely on the zebras.”
When asked again about the offense line, McAdoo said, “We aren’t where we want to be, but thank God we’re not where we used to be.”
Tom Coughlin: What Passing Game?
Coughlin is concerned about the Giants lack of practice time together, as Beckham missed time yesterday due to dental work, Cruz due to a calf strain, and Randle due to knee tendinitis. He’s concerned that without practicing together, the elite passing game that’s been predicted for the team will not materialize on the field. While their absence has provided opportunities to develop the younger players, Coughlin wants his top players on the field. And he wants it to happen soon.
Orleans Darkwa impressed Coughlin last season with his special teams play last season, and has continued to impress with his work on offense this year in camp. Despite their depth at running back, capturing the head coach’s attention is a good way to fight for a roster spot. Playing well on special teams is another.
Dwayne Harris caught Coughlin’s eye as he was game planning against him when he played for the Dallas Cowboys. His work as a gunner on special teams, kick and punt returning, and blocking on offense showed Coughlin a versatility that made him a target for the Giants in free agency. Pointing out that Harris is an “Obvious special teamer,” Coughlin says he takes pride in that role and it shown.
Davis needs to take a page from Harris’ playbook and concentrate on his special teams work. While he’s impressive as a receiver in camp, the Giants depth at the position means his future playing time will depend on his versatility. Coughlin would like to see him as part of the gunner rotation as he has the size, strength, and speed to excel in that role.
Coughlin expects the Giants offense to improve in all areas this season. With teams having to decide which of teams weapon to defend, he expect the offense to be excellent. The offensive line needs to be settled and the team needs to find the five guys that work best together. With Schwartz and Newhouse missing time, it’s given the team a chance to bring some of the younger players along. Bobby Hart is one of those players and had been given playing time at both right guard and right tackle. Coughlin said he’s had good and bad days, but has improved.
Speaking at length about the revised extra point rules, where the conversion is the equivalent of a 33 yard field goal, Coughlin said he thinks is just as important to practice the extra points as it is to run two point conversion plays from the two yard line. Where strategy comes into play, he said, is when there is a defensive penalty, and the ball will move to the one. Pointing out the he expects the Giants extra point success rate to remain at 100%, Coughlin said that wind and other weather factors will be monitored as always, and be incorporated into this game day decisions.
Confidence in the Giants defense is growing, but Coughlin wants to see the unit prove themselves on the field against the Jaguars. As a tough team that wants to run the ball and defend the run, Coughlin sees them as a good test for the Giants.
Tom Quinn, Special Teams Coordinator: Need to See Improvement
Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn manages the workload for his kickers to keep their fresh. They have to kick through the long season and he doesn’t want them to “Kick their legs out.”
Harris, was signed for primarily for his special teams play, and Quinn looks forward to seeing him play on “The Big 4 special teams.” Rookie Akeem Hunt may challenge for the kick return job, but Quinn thought he should have taken his big kick return against the Bengals back for a touchdown. The players are learning and it’s all part of the process.
Davis, who did not play special teams in college, is progressing, according to Quinn, who confirmed he’s being trained as a gunner. It’s different getting free against two defenders on the line, but Quinn tries to keep it simple for the rookie.
The new extra point will not be a big deal, as it meant that the field goal team started their practices from the 15 yard line instead of the two. There will be more of a defensive rush, but Quinn is not worried about it.
Zak DeOssie is a leader, and a football player rather than just a snapper. When the rules were changed to not allow defenders to line up over the center on punts, it allowed DeOssie to get down the field faster and has unleashed the linebacker in the veteran.
Quinn expects the Giants to improve in both net punt and punt return yards based on their off season acquisitions and the work they have done in camp. Their work on the punting and punt coverage team has always been significant, but Quinn said they increased their workload on punt returns. They investments and hard work should pay dividends in September.
Eli Manning: I Don’t Know Where That Came From
Sweeping the internet like a Khardassian magazine cover, a statement attributed to Eli Manning that he wants to be the NFL’s highest paid player is completely false, according to the Giants quarterback. Not only did he not make the statement, but neither did his agent. He’s uncertain if it was a reporter “Trying to make a name for himself,” or if it came from anther source, but Manning said it’s not true and declined to comment on his contract negotiations.
Manning learned of the report fro his father, Archie Manning, and immediately contacted the Giants Vice President of Communications, Pat Hanlon. Assuring him that the source was unreliable, Hanlon told Manning not to concern himself and to focus on practice and preparation for Saturday’s game against the Jaguars.
Plays that have been made in practice need to translate onto the field, said Manning, in response to how the offense can improve it’s performance. In their second season in McAdoo’s system, Manning expects the offense to be faster in the early part of the season, with adjustments made more rapidly, and fewer mental errors. Having gotten more practice reps with Beckham and Cruz, Manning expects to hit more plays with them as well.
In the game on Saturday night, Manning wants to sustain drive and put point on the board. If the offense plays fast and gets into a rhythm, he sees that happening.
Victor Cruz: A Small Hiccup
Coughlin called it a product of dehydration. Cruz called is a “Little tweak” from running around and his increased practice reps. The topic, of course, is the calf strain that kept Cruz out of practice yesterday and will most likely keep him out up to and including Saturday’s game.
Pointing out that the strain is not in the leg that suffered the torn patellar tendon, Cruz assures all concerned parties that it’s completely unrelated to his knee injury and it’s minor. Feeling “Light years better” than when it happened on Tuesday, Cruz is certain he will be able to return to practice next week and play in the Giants third preseason game against the New York Jets.
“It’s not going to be a huge hindrance,” said Cruz, “It’s not related to the knee and is just a small hiccup on the road to recovery.”
Expecting the offense to be considerably better in the second year of McAdoo’s system, Cruz said that “If we can get everyone out on the field at the same time, we can be a force.” Speaking with confidence about the talent on the team, and be sure to mention that it’s on both sides of the ball and special teams, Cruz said he sees the Giants as ready to take the next step.
On another host, steamy, humid day in New Jersey, the Giants took to the practice field while four player rode stationary bicycles on the sideline. Safeties Landon Collins (knee) and Cooper Taylor (toe) were joined by left tackle Will Beatty (torn pectoral) and cornerback Jayron Hosley (concussion) on the bikes. Rueben Randle (knee tendonitis) and Nat Berhe (calf) missed practice, while Prince Amukamara (groin) started out the day working with trainers on the sideline.
There was some good news for Hosley on the injury front as tests on his neck came back negative. Hosley is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol and will need to be cleared before he can resume practicing. Victor Cruz declared himself 100% healthy and expects to play against Jacksonville on Saturday night. He will likely be on a very limited snap count. General Manager Jerry Reese echoed Cruz’s optimism regarding playing in Saturday’s preseason game.
Collins being able to ride the exercise bicycle as well as do some light jogging on the sideline is an excellent indicator that his strained MCL is starting to heal. This is on top of yesterday’s day-to-day injury designation rather than the expected week-to-week. Last season, an MCL injury forced running back Rashad Jennings to miss 4 games. Cruz caught a touchdown pass early in the practice session. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas returned to practice today after missing yesterday with a stiff neck.
The first team offensive line again featured John Jerry at right guard and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle. After three plays, Geoff Schwartz rotated in for Newhouse at right tackle. Later in the practice session, Jerry kicked out to right tackle for a few snaps. Adam Gettis was flattened by Kenrick Ellis in a late drill. Rookie Bobby Hart also took some snaps at right tackle with the second team.
At the other position of great concern, Jeromy Miles and Bennett Jackson lined up as the first team safeties. New arrival Brandon Meriweather rotated in with the first team early in the session. After finishing his work with trainers, Amukamara took part in some defensive drills. Amukamara and Collins took part in the defensive walk through.
Defensive end George Selvie walked off the field gingerly, seemingly favoring his ankle, and spent some time getting examined by the trainers.
Odell Beckham went up high again Jackson to snare a pass and came back later to catch another touchdown. One of the NFL’s top receivers, Beckham is giving the Giants banged up secondary all they handle on a daily basis.
Preston Parker went to the sideline and had his thigh wrapped. Julian Talley, who had a strong game on Friday, caught a sideline pass against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Talley has had a strong camp, but is swimming upstream with the Giants deep receiving corps.
Coughlin gathered the team for a long speech after practice and they cooled down before going in for the evening.
Tom Coughlin, Head Coach: Teach and Make Corrections
Tom Coughlin addressed the media in advance of this evening’s practice. He spoke of Meriweather, whom he called a physical safety who comes down in the box well. He also said that Meriweather will add a degree of toughness to the secondary, which is something you want. Regarding Meriweather’s penalties and “Other issues,” Coughlin said you obviously don’t want those, but believes that the competitive Meriweather will be open to coaching.
Asked why Meriweather was available in August, Coughlin revealed that he has a toe issue that was corrected and that the Giants, among other teams were monitoring it. The timing was perfect, given the team’s need. At 31 years of age, Coughlin considers nine year veteran Meriweather a young man who is “Not ready to be put to rest, yet.” The sarcastic side of Coughlin emerged when Meriweather’s fit on the team was asked as he replied, “He’s a safety, we need safeties.”
Coughlin again emphasized that he expects a big season from Eli Manning, citing his preparation, physical condition, and drive. In a great state of mind, Coughlin said Manning, “Is prepared to be better than he’s even been.”
Cruz went through yesterday’s entire practice and is ready to be back out on the field again today. While he has to do things gradually, Cruz has shown he can increase his workload and is moving well. Coughlin did not reveal a timetable for Cruz to appears in a preseason game.
Schwartz took some snaps at right tackle yesterday when Newhouse overheated and had to go into the training center. Coughlin said Schwartz has played on both sides of the line and will play where ever the team needs him. Despite the time he’s missed with his foot/ankle issues, Coughlin assumes that he is available until told otherwise, without restrictions. With his return to practice, Coughlin needs to see him on the field to know Schwartz can be counted on.
Coughlin said the offense, defense, and parts of the special teams need to improve based on Friday night’s game with the Cincinnati Bengals. The coaches have looked at the tapes, will teach the players, and make corrections. While it seems like an over simplification, it’s the way of the NFL world. There’s no panic or overreaction to one preseason game.
Steve Spagnuolo, Defensive Coordinator: Play More Physical and Faster
Steve Spagnuolo joined the chorus of voices that says the Giants didn’t start out Friday’s game with the Bengals the way the team had hoped. But he points out that they went into the game without a game plan and played a very vanilla defense. The long run plays given up are something Spagnuolo believes can be corrected, and he was encouraged be how the young players performed in the red zone, where Cincinnati was often held to field goals. Spagnuolo did add that he’s prefer that opponents not be allowed to get into scoring range in the first place.
One of the issues, offered Spagnuolo, is that players were thinking too much, causing them to be delayed in reacting. We wants them to think fast and react, to chase perfection, and to make up for the lack of it with relentlessness. Spagnuolo takes responsibility for the first touchdown surrendered, and would have played the formation differently in the regular season if a game plan had been in place.
Of new safety Meriweather, Spagnuolo called him an aggressive talented player. He knows Meriweather would prefer not to change his playing style, but believes time away from football may soften his stance in that regard. The NFL’s safety rule has forced aggressive players to lower their strike zone, and Meriweather needs to follow suit. One can assume this was a conversation before his signing and one that will be a frequent topic while he’s remains with the team.
Trevin Wade, who has an interception in Friday’s game, is a player who deserves recognition according to Spagnuolo. He’s always around the ball, makes plays, and has stepped up when other players have been injured. Spagnuolo said that Wade is a player that no one knew about when camp opened.
Of Miles, who is fighting for a starting safety job, Spagnuolo said he’s viewed as a career special teams player and backup, but is a hard worker. He was signed because he’s a known quantity, but has “A ways to go, like we all do.”
Speaking of the defensive ends, Spagnuolo said they will be moved around and inside as long as the defense puts them in position to do so. Asked about Kerry Wynn, Spagnuolo said he’s a solid football player who made some uncharacteristic mental errors on Friday. He added that Wynn is getting better as a football player every day.
Collins’ knee injury will set him back, but he’s standing with Spagnuolo at practice to stay in tune with the defense. On field experience is invaluable to a rookie, especially one that who will have responsibility for making defensive calls, and missing time mean he has to play catch up. Spagnuolo would prefer to never start a rookie, but Collins experience at Alabama made him an exception to that rule. Losing time to his MCL sprain may offset his advantage.
Spagnuolo said he can’t really miss Jason Pierre-Paul because he’s never worked with him. Wishing him good health and a speedy recovery, Spagnuolo said he’ll for an opinion about his abilities when he returns to the Giants.
Devon Kennard is a good football player who is a versatile strong side linebacker. He can play off the line or line up with his hand in the dirt. Spagnuolo wants to keep him healthy and take care not to overload him, but is challenged because Kennard wants “More and more.” Spagnuolo describes these as “All good qualities.”
As far as improving the defense’s performance, Spagnuolo wants to see his players be more physical and play faster. He said that “You can make up for a lot of mistakes if you do that.”
Geoff Schwartz: No Different at Tackle
Schwartz doesn’t feel 100%, but he won’t expect to until next season. He says that no players ever feels 100% after the first day of camp and that the best players overcome it over the course of the season. Schwartz practiced yesterday and is practicing again today and does not expect to miss any more practice due to his ankle.
Playing tackle is not a big adjustment for Schwartz, who says that most of the adjustments are made off the field. When you’re in a game and the coaches say, “Go play right tackle, you have no time to think about it. Your training takes over,” explains Schwartz. There are different angles, but I’ve played all over the line and it’s not that different.
As for playing Saturday against the Jaguars, Schwartz doesn’t see why not. “If I practice all week, I don’t know why I wouldn’t play. I’m approaching this week as if I’m playing on Saturday.”
Robert Ayers: Something to Build On
Robert Ayers is learning and getting better every day and while he admits to making some mistake, he also knows he’s doing some things well. Working on being a leader on the Giants defense, Ayers is also trying to become a better person, leader, and teammate. And he is enjoying learning from new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
When reviewing film, Spagnuolo point out nuances on opponents formations. “He puts you in a position to be successful,” says Ayers, “It’s football 102.” Ayers goes on to say that Spagnuolo makes little comments when he’s explaining plays that allows him and others to gain a greater understanding of how offenses are attacking them.
“I expect to completely dominate whomever we play. I expect it of myself and of my teammates,” said Ayers in response to a question whether the Giants poor performance against the Bengals on Friday was the expected outcome. He added that no matter how they played, corrections would be needed.
In good performances, there are things to correct, and in bad performances there are things to correct. It’s something to build on, explained Ayers. He also said he doesn’t remember anyone’s preseason records from last season.
Trevin Wade: Aggression with Technique
Wade worked with his college strength and conditioning coach to get ready for camp as he believes Corey Edmond knows his body best. Wade is having a solid camp, so there must be something to it. Edmond texted Wade after Friday night’s game, but not to congratulate him on his interception, but to point out that he should have held on to the one he dropped. Wade laughed as he relayed the story and said he will find Edmond where ever he goes to work out with him during the off season.
When on the field, whether with the first team defense or not, Wade is focused on the defensive call, reading the offensive formation, and making a play for the team. He wants to do his job or, as Wade puts it, “Coach says Do your job plus.” He didn’t specify which coach, but it’s likely cornerbacks coach Tim Walton.
At the conclusion of yesterday’s practice, Wade defenses a pass to Beckham that resulted in an interception by Bennett Jackson. It was after Beckham has made a leaping catch on Wade and he was mad about that play. Assuming the offense would test him again, Wade was resolved to better defend the Giants top receiver and did, making a highlight sensational play with Jackson’s assistance.
Wade said he was aggressive which, it was pointed out, the coaching staff has said will cover up mistakes. Wade corrected the statement, saying that it must be “Aggression with Technique,” because without technique, the unbridled aggression will only result in busted plays.
Prior to practice, the Giants released a lengthy injury report that contained some good news. Jameel McClain (stinger) and Geoff Schwartz (ankle) both returned to practice, bolstering the linebackers and offensive line, respectively. Landon Collins (MCL sprain), Trumaine McBride (hamstring), Rueben Randle (tendinitis), Nat Berhe (calf), and Prince Amukamara (groin) are listed as day-to-day, indicating that their absences are not expected to be long term.
Chykie Brown (LCL sprain) is listed as week-to-week and Jayron Hosley is in the NFL’s concussion protocol, indicating a potential longer term absence. Additionally, Hosley has a cervical issue in his neck that is still being examined. It was reported yesterday that rookie Mykkele Thompson would miss the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon. The team held private free agent tryouts prior to practice and Giants360 will bring you the names of the players that attended and those signed as soon as they are available. Jonathan Casillas also missed practice with a stiff neck.
The Giants signed veteran safety Brandon Meriweather, who spent four seasons with the New England Patriots, including his rookie season with the team that lost Super Bowl 42 to the Giants. Meriweather also spent a season with the Chicago Bears and three seasons with the Washington Redskins. Know more for being a big hitter than a coverage safety, Meriweather’s Pro Football Focus ratings bear this reputation out. Meriweather has been fined four times by the NFL for helmet to helmet hits and it was his 2010 hit on Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap that caused the NFL to start suspending players for these infractions.
Meriweather was suspended for such a hit on Chicago Bears receiver Brandon Marshall during the 2013 season, which caused Meriweather to say, “I guess I just got to take people’s knees out. That’s the only way. I would hate to end a guy’s career over a rule, but I guess it’s better other people than me getting suspended for longer. You just have to go low now, man. You’ve got to end people’s careers. You got to tear people’s ACLs and mess up people’s knees. You can’t hit them high anymore.”
As practice started, the Giants secondary was made up of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Trevin Wade at the corners and Bennett Jackson and Jeromy Miles at safety. If and how quickly Meriweather ascends into the starting lineup will be a storyline over the next two weeks. Wade had an interception in Friday night’s game and is a young player to watch. He appears to be carving out a role for himself on the team.
The offensive line shuffling continues, as Schwartz took some snaps at both right guard and right tackle. The right side of the line was an issue against the Bengals and exploring options to sure it up will be one of the objectives for the coaching staff this week. John Jerry and Schwartz were a frequent combination at right guard and tackle, respectively, with Marshall Newhouse rotating out of the first team. Rookie Bobby Hart also took some snaps at right tackle. Newhouse was missing towards the end of practice, having left practice “Overheated.”
Dwayne Harris dropped a pass from Ryan Nassib that hit him in the hands. Later, when the first team offense was back on the field, Odell Beckham caught another touchdown from Eli Manning. The large crown assembled for this evening’s practice roared it’s approval. Manning then fired touchdowns to Victor Cruz and Larry Donnell on this next two passes, giving himself a camp hat trick. Towards the end of practice, Beckham made a leaping catch over Wade and to again thrill the crowd.
Jerome Cunningham was the target on back to back plays. One was broken up by J.T.Thomas, and the tight end hauled in the second. Corey Washington made a diving catch, showing the concentration he lacked in the Bengals game on Friday night. Cunningham later blocked Thomas completely out of of relevance on a running play.
Practice ended with Wade defending a pass intended for Preston Parker and Jackson making a diving interception on the play.
Geoff Schwartz: No Setback, But I Need the Reps
Schwartz was upset that he missed the joint practices with Cincinnati as it was a team bonding event that everyone was looking forward to for the entire off season. Calling his absence from practice “Frustrating,” Schwartz said it wasn’t a setback, but part of the process of getting his body back into shape from last year’s injuries. He’s excited to be returning to practice today.
It’s expected that his ankle will need to be managed on an ongoing basis, but Schwartz does not expect to miss significant practice time between now and the regular season. “Everyone’s goal is to be ready for week one,” said Schwartz, “But honestly, I need the reps.” Saying that he missed out last week, Schwartz added that he had no doubt moving forward that everything will be ok.
The offensive line’s performance in the preseason opener, “Didn’t go how we wanted,” according to Schwartz, but he won’t blame it on the injuries and moving players around. He said that’s part of training camp – rotating players around. He did concede that it’s difficult to build chemistry as an offensive line if you don’t have the same five players on the field. Hopefully his return marks the upswing in the offensive line’s play for 2015.
Odell Beckham: We Have to Play Better
Those five simple words summed up Beckham’s take on the review of the game film from Friday Night’s preseason opener with the Cincinnati Bengals. The Giants have noted their mistakes, will learn from them and move forward starting with today’s practice. Beckham said his statement applies to the wide receiver group and the team as a whole. Employing a 24 hour rule after games, the team does not dwell on their performance. They review, they learn, and they correct. Those corrections start today.
Beckham sees the talent running deep in the Giants receiving corps, and admits that there will be a tight competition for roster spots next month. “Everyone can play,” says Beckham. But the competition is friendly, and the receiver push each other and want to the one another succeed.
Jim Herrmann Linebackers Coach: Block Destruction
The Giants linebackers coach, Jim Herrmann saw the team’s linebackers getting off blocks and getting to the ball on Friday night. Called “Block Destruction” on the meeting room, Herrmann was pleased with what he called “Quite a few plays” made by the linebackers and liked how they knocked back the Bengals on numerous occasions.
Asked about Uani Unga, the middle linebacker who caught everyone’s eye on Friday night, Herrmann said he “Did a great job for a young player.” Having suffered a knee injury as a senior at BYU, Friday night was Unga’s first game in a year and three quarters. Herrmann likes his development, saw him make quite a few plays, and saw him take over as the “Mike” linebacker and line up the Giants defense. Herrmann added that for a stocky player, Unga moves well.
Jon Beason was also seeing his first game action in almost a year, and Herrmann thought he had a good command of the defense. “He made the calls and I liked what I saw in his limited snaps,” said Herrmann.
Pressed as to whether Devon Kennard would take over for Beason should he suffer another injury, Herrman pointed out that due to roster limitations, the five or six linebackers on the 46 man game day roster all play dual positions. What positions they cover changes due to injuries and the week to week situation. Kennard has played middle linebacker in practice and done well in the role, but it currently an outside linebacker.
Having done a good job in his increased role as a blitzer, Herrmann called the balance between practicing the blitz and practicing coverage skills a “quandary.” He added that you need to get the reps in when you can in both roles.
Free agent acquisitions Thomas and Casillas are both speedy linebackers who run well and have range. Herrmann says that helps in coverage and in backside pursuit. Currently, the team in still installing defensive packages, and the linebackers that will be used in the defense will be ultimately determined on a week to week basis by the individually tailored game plans. Herrmann added that each linebacker’s unique abilities will be taken into account when making those decisions and that the flexibility is nice to have as a coach.
Craig Johnson, Running Backs Coach: Competition
The Giants running back rotation is far from set. Running backs coach Craig Johnson is putting the backs in different situations to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each man. That process will continue until it’s time to prepare for the season opening game in Dallas on September 13th. Once that date draws near, a rotation will be determined, giving each player touches and also put the team in the best position to win games. Translation: Don’t read too much into who gets snaps, and draft a Giants runner on your fantasy team at your own risk.
Johnson relishes the competition, and says he’s yet to meet a coach that doesn’t. He speaks of the strengths of each player. Shane Vereen, the smart, touch veteran who can make plays on early and late downs. Rashad Jennings, who trains hard and will do more in his second year in the McAdoo offense. Andre Williams, a tireless worker who spent the off season trying to improve his weaknesses.
In the Bengals game, Johnson said the running backs did “OK” and added that they didn’t lost the game, but also didn’t help the team win. He wants to see the running backs “Pick it up as a unit.” The one exception is Orleans Darkwa, who Johnson said was good in all three phases, running, pass blocking and running routes, but he added that he doesn’t want any “One week wonders.”
Of Darkwa’s performance, Johnson said he had speed to the hole, set up his blocks well, was in good timing with the offensive line, and finished runs well. The last point, finishing well and forward on tackles, is key, as it can turn 3rd & 6 into 3rd and 2. Of the other backs, Johnson said they’ve performed at a high level in practice and he wants to see it in the games.
Williams came out of Boston College not having caught a pass in his senior year. Johnson said he is nothing like the player scouted at the combined in February 2014. Pointing to the screen pass he caught on Friday night, Johnson said that the old Williams would have dropped that pass because of sight lines, but because of this work, he caught it for a 16 yard gain. A blind ball drill, catching countless tennis balls, and game situation drills in practice have made Williams a better receiver. Johnson said the results are evident on the field.
When giving advice to his backs, Johnson sums it up succinctly, “If there is something there, make more of it. If there’s nothing there, make something of it.” If they heed those words, their part of the rotation will increase accordingly.
Rashad Jennings: Chemisty
Jennings is not alarmed by Friday night’s loss. “It’s game one,” he said, adding that the team didn’t perform, but they’ve been productive in practice and in the joint practices with the Bengals. They just need to transition that to the games.
Calling their deep group of runners a “Stable,” Jennings admires the differing skill sets and points out that the team will need every body going down the stretch. Emphasizing the body, in everybody, Jenning’s play on words was a commentary on their running back injuries, including his own, in 2014.
Urging patience regarding the loss in the preseason opener, Jennings said that you can’t get on an emotional roller coaster. “Win, Lose, or Draw,” said Jennings, there are things we have to learn from the day. He also said that the offensive line is building chemistry after having players moved around. “Chemistry is a word you never see on a trophy,” said Jennings,” but it’s the reason you win one.”
As far as he and his fellow running backs, Jennings said what they need to work on is common sense. “Breaking more tackles and other common sense items.” Adding that it applies to all the team’s positions, Jennings added that “Excellence is in the details.” He is starting to sound more like Coughlin every day.
Cooper Taylor: Getting the Details Down
Each of the safeties in Giants camp, all nine of them, or the eight remaining with Thompson out for the season, is comfortable and confident that he can perform at this level, according to Taylor Taylor. But he also sees every rep taken in practice as a chance to get better.
Jeromy Miles, having been exposed to Spagnuolo’s methods previously, is a great leader, and has been a great asset to the young safeties. Working in tandem, but in constant changing rotation in practice, the Giants safeties have built a rapport with each other. It’s stronger with some of their backfield partners than others, admits Taylor, but they all built it with each of the other safeties.
Having surrendered 428 yards to the Bengals, Taylor admits that there is a lot of room for improvement at the safety position. Keeping in mind that it’s the first time this new Giants defense went against “Live bullets,” Taylor said they team needs to get the details down and perform better. The details are the alignments and techniques that will make the defense more effective on the field and practice reps along with game experience will make that a reality.
Giants Lose to Bengals
The Giants laid an egg in their preseason opener and lost for the first time since August 29, 2013 as they dropped last night’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals 23-10. Preseason is not about winning, but rather about measuring progress and looking at young player. There were some highlights, some low lights, and a few players who got themselves on the coach’s radar. Today, we take a look at what learned, who emerged, and where the Giants stand the morning after.
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