The backdrop for today’s practice is a day ripped from player’s dreams. Low humidity, mild temperatures, light breeze, and no precipitation. Following a day where heat and humidity forced Tom Coughlin to cut practice short, the GPS devices should allow for a full session, albeit in shells and shorts, rather than full pads. Attending the practice was my privilege today, along with a few thousand die hard Giant fans that lined the fences around the field outside the Quest Diagnostic training facility. The players sprinted rapidly between drills as the horn sounded, and fans excitedly called out who was in at quarterback, running back, and receiver. A fun day, and highly recommended if you are in the area. The only disappointment was the lack of ice cream in the “ice cream” bin – only lemon ice.
The results of Odell Beckham’s hamstring came back negative, meaning that the injury is minor. While the team is breathing a sigh of relief, Coughlin will be “more than a little disappointed” for a while longer, as the rookie wide receiver is expected to be out another week, including Sunday’s preseason opener. Missing practice since re-injuring the hamstring on July 22nd, speedster Beckham is expected to play as major role in the new Giant offense and contribute in the return game. Beckham addressed the media before practice and confirmed that he is “day to day,” and that the MRI showed blood in his hamstring. Although he felt good when he reported for camp after receiving treatment in Arizona, Beckham said he hasn’t run up to his potential since he’s been with the Giants. “My head’s in the right place,” said Beckham, “but it’s tough to just sit there.” He believes he will play in preseason games.
Veteran guard Mark Asper effectively changed sides in the Hall of Fame game as the Giants claimed the 28 year old former Oregon Duck on waivers from the Buffalo Bills. Asper, 6’6″ and 319 pounds, was a 6th round pick for Buffalo in the 2012 draft, but was waived at the end of the 2012 preseason. Claimed by the Minnesota Vikings, Asper did not appear in a game before being let go in December 2012. Once again claimed, this time by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Asper appeared in one game as a rookie. In 2013, he made the Bills practice squad, and was promoted to the active roster in mid-October. He appeared in 6 games for the Bills. He will now have to impress the Giants coaches against his former teammates. To make room, offensive tackle Demarcus Love was waived with an injury waiver.
Former Giants Terrell Thomas has agreed to terms with the Seattle Seahawks. After missing both the 2011 and 2012 seasons with torn ACLs, Thomas played in all 16 games last season for the Giants at a high enough level to draw interest from other teams this off season. Thomas is reunited with his former college coach, Pete Carroll, after being drafted 63rd overall (second round) in the 2008 NFL draft out of USC.
The paperback version of Tom Coughlin’s book, “Earn the Right to Win,” hit bookstores today. An interesting read, it details the Giants head coach’s excruciating attention to detail and the intricate planning that is necessary to success in both collegiate and professional football. Many of the methods he employs with are adaptable to other avenues of life.
Prior to practice, NFL officials addressed the team and reviewed rules changes and points of emphasis for 2014. A well publicized change is the inception of the referee control center that will be in New York and communicate with officials when they go under the hood to review a play. The control center and referee will review the play simultaneously and be able to discuss it before the call is made. The purpose is to provide the referee with guidance and assure uniformity of calls across the league, especially when an interpretation of the rules is required. If there is a difference of opinion, the referee’s call is upheld. This is a step in the right direction, but to truly improve the officiating in the NFL, a simplification of the rules is needed. Take a look at the rulebook some time, some of them are quite arduous to understand and interpret, let alone remember in the heat of the action. We should have a lot of respect for those officiating crews that get the calls right and don’t disrupt the flow of the game. Others, well, it’s unfortunate that they can’t be summoned under the hood by the control center for a consultation and reminded that officials are not supposed to be the focus of the game.
Another point if emphasis is penalizing racial, homophobic, and threatening language on the field. Fans can especially look forward to Ed Hoculi’s explanations of these penatlies.
Defensive tackle Mike Patterson met with the media before practice, showing off his svelte new body, having dropped 10 pounds since last season. Now at 316, Patterson said he didn’t know he’s be a starter when he re-signed with Giants and that his only goal was to play more football.
Cornerback Prince Amukamara also spoke the press and said that the new offense is helping the defense prepare for the season by giving them “new looks” in practice. He also said that the defensive backs keep track of practice interceptions as they are a highly competitive group.
As practice started, Beckham, of course was on the sideline, and worked with his favorite “quarterback,” the JUGGS machine. He was joined by Rueben Randle, who suffered a hamstring injury the day after recovery stretches. Cornerback Ross Weaver, Defensive Tackle Everett Dawkins, Trindon Holliday, and Xavier Grimble were also among the players doing extra “injury” stretches on the sidelines. No mention of Troy Kropog who has carted off yesterday, apparently he was not seriously injured. Beckham shagged punts today, as he did on Tuesday, but did not run with them, taking steps to keep his hands in game shape.
Practice featured extra points being kicked from the 15 yard line which we will see in Sunday’s game, and for the first two weeks of the preseason. There was a defensive penalty on one of them, and one of the options was to try for 2 from the 1 yard line. Trying to spur interest in extra points and devalue fantasy football kickers is an intriguing move.
The tight end depth chart entered the bizarro world as Adrien Robinson took snaps with the first team, and Larry Donnell fumbled during the practice session. Andre Williams also took some reps with the first team at running back , and Mario Manningham stepped in for Randle. Donnell atoned with a fantastic one handed catch over Cooper Taylor on a goal line drill for a touchdown, that drew cheers from the crowd.
The most interesting play of practice was a halfback option pass executed by Peyton Hillis. It was wobbly and missed a wide open Donnell. That one may not make it in the regular season rotation. The crowd hooted and hollered when Trumaine McBride grabbed a pick six on Curtis Painter. As he streaked down the sideline, escorted by Amukamara, Stevie Brown, and Walter Thurmond, you could hear the cheers echoing through the crowd. It was by far the most exciting play of the day. Painter rebounded to hit Kellen Davis for a touchdown.
Jerrell Jernigan took a few snaps with the first team and had back-to-back receptions from Manning. He is the player benefiting most from Beckham’s being sidelined and is proving daily that last December was not fluke.
David Wilson left practice early with Trainer Ronnie Barnes, after catching a swing pass and running into guard Eric Herman, with what Coughlin described as a neck burner. These are fairly common place, and usually not cause for great concern, but given Wilson’s neck issues and off season surgery, it could be extremely serious. He was sent to the Hospital for Special Surgery for a full battery of tests. Before leaving practice, Wilson fumbled, having the worst possible day.
Perry Fewell rolled out another interesting variation on the defensive line with Robert Ayers and Mathais Kiwanuka at the end positions and Cullen Jenkins and Jason Pierre-Paul at the tackles.
The Giants have an off day tomorrow before resuming practice Thursday from 1:20 to 3:30. I’ll tweet out any breaking news. Check back Thursday for another edition of Giants Camp Notes.