On another temperate day, the Giants took the field wearing shoulder pads for the first time, to the delight of offensive line coach Pat Flaherty. He was looking forward to seeing the lineman work with some additional padding which will ratchet up the intensity a few notches. Leading into their first off day tomorrow, it was what Tom Coughlin called a “spirited” practice, dominated by the defense.
Prior to taking the field, Jameel McClain spoke with the media and had nothing but praise for defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and said the 2014 Giants defense will be one that will “Keep people out of their seat.” He also had high praise for rookie linebacker Devon Kennard, calling him one of the most impressive young guys he’s ever seen.
Fewell has been the forgotten man so far this season as all of the attention has been focused on Ben McAdoo and the new offense. With the influx of talent in the secondary, and the seemingly improved talent at linebacker, Fewell will have more flexibility to dial up innovative pressure packages to make up for the losses along the defensive line. The Giant defense has the potential to improve on it’s eighth overall ranking of last season, if the players remain healthy. That is a big if, however.
Jon Beason also spoke to the media and said he is feeling good, but will trust the doctors and their timetable for his return. Beason is hopeful of getting some preseason snaps, but not counting on it.
Larry Donnell, speaking about the tight end position, said they will be a big part of the offense this season.
When the players took the field, Odell Beckham again did not participate in team drills, and instead caught short passes from the Juggs machine on the sideline. He appeared to be moving slowly and cautiously. Coughlin said there is no timetable for his return. One wonders how much more time he can miss before he in in danger of having to sit out the Hall of Fame game a week from Sunday.
Brandon McManus went 4 for 4 on field goal attempts and has yet to miss in practice. Keep an eye out for how he looks kicking field goals and kicking off in the preseason games. It would appears we have an unexpected kicking battle brewing. Josh Brown’s practice statistics have not been as well publicized, but one can assume he has not been as impressive as the rookie McManus
Another player to watch is undrafted free agent defensive lineman Jordan Stanton, who has been making big plays with the third team. It will be interesting to see if he can keep it up when he moves up in class. Stanton played his college football at James Madison University and is wearing Dave Diehl’s old number, 66.
Damontre Moore and Jonathan Hankins made a great play to stuff a run against the second team offense. The defense has been dominating against the run, which is hopefully more of a statement about the talent on defense and not an indictment of the Giants new offense or the state of the offensive line. A strong run defense is the foundation on which dominating NFL defenses are built.
Linebacker Mark Herzlich, who is fighting for a roster spot this year, showed good hands by deflecting and intercepting a Curtis Painter pass. Herzlich has excelled on special teams, but with a $1,000,000 salary, he will have to show that he can contribute on defense to justify his roster spot. Especially with young linebackers Kennard and Dan Fox making positive impressions on the coaches.
Ryan Nassib continued his rough camp, throwing another interception, this time floating a pass intended for Jerrel Jernigan that was picked off by cornerback Charles James.
Eli Manning did not look as sharp today, and gave everyone a scare when he got tangled up with Andre Williams and took a nasty tumble. Fortunately, he bounced right back up and hit Rueben Randle for a touchdown on the next play.
Kendall Gaskins, who gained notoriety by appearing above Williams on the running back depth chart, fumbled and triggered a Tom Coughlin tirade about ball security. “Hold on to the #@*$%& football,” yelled the coach. Gaskins will sink rapidly on the depth chart if he can’t keep the ball off the ground. Ask David Wilson.
As previously mentioned, there is no practice tomorrow. I will tweet out any breaking news. Check back on Sunday for news and notes on the Giants first fully padded practice.