It is a cool for July, and overcast summer day New Jersey as the Giants took the field for practice in full pads. The hot topic of conversation remains David Wilson following an Instagram post by the running back where he declared that he “Passed all the physical examinations.” Wilson, “4stillrunning” on Instagram and Twitter, also said “Everything turned out fine.” What he is not considering is the Giants history of conservatism with neck injuries, making the potential road back to the field potentially longer than Wilson believes. Rampant speculation on Wilson’s future runs the gamut from returning next week to “Needing a miracle” to resume his career. There will be no reliable information until he is examined on Monday by Dr. Frank Cammiso, who performed his neck fusion surgery in January of this year.
Wilson returned to team meetings today and is upbeat and optimistic according to both Rashad Jennings and Michael Cox. The running backs are a tight knit group and have been in constant contact via text with Wilson about his injury. Wilson was stretching with the team, by himself in the end zone, while the rest of the team prepared to practice. Wilson caught a bird that landed on the practice field with a towel and carried it to a less crowded area of the field before releasing it. As with most animal stories, the bird upstaged him, and flew right back, landing near the media. He (she?) is the featured image for today’s camp notes.
Jennings met with the media this morning and said he expects the team to “show a lot” in their first preseason game. He points out that each running back bring their own unique talent to the new Giants offense. Jennings shared a quote he lives by, “When an opportunity presents itself, it’s too late to prepare for it.” Inspirational, and sounds very much like Tom Coughlin, but is actually former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, a source Coughlin has himself quoted in the past. Jennings lived it when he was 5th string running back in high school and the four players in front of him got hurt in a game being attended by a University of Tennessee scout. Jennings entered the game and scored four touchdowns. Although Jennings did not attend the University of Tennessee, beginning his college career at the University of Pittsburgh, before transferring to Liberty University, the game got him noticed. He performed because of his preparation and talent. Reminds me of another high school-er who scored for touchdowns in one game, however, Jennings has fared much better in life.
Rueben Randle believes his job with Wilson is to be a good friend, and makes every effort to be positive around him. He has avoided talking about his “burner.” Randle said his hamstring injury is feeling better, and expects to be on the practice field today.
Starting center J.D. (Justin Daniel) Walton expects to have some pregame jitters on Sunday as he will be playing in his first game since September of 2012 when he dislocated his ankle in a game against Oakland. Prior to that injury, Walton added, he was hardly injury prone, having never even missed a practice.
Defensive end Damontre Moore has been spending a lot of time with impending Hall of Fame inductee Michael Strahan. The second year player, who couldn’t have picked a better role model for work ethic, has reportedly taken a big leap forward this year. He his a player to keep an eye on this preseason.
The Bills have been installed as 2.5 point favorites in the Hall of Fame game, with an over/under of 33.5. Take the points if you are so inclined.
Backup linebacker Spencer Paysinger was working on the sideline with trainers as the team warned up. Guard John Jerry, expected to back up at both guard positions, and starting defensive tackle Mike Patterson were both on stationary bikes. Jerry is nursing a knee injury, and Patterson a shoulder. No mention of what had Paysinger sidelined. Jon Beason, as has been the case all week, was stretching and running, and appears to be moving well. There has been a sighting of wide receiver Trindon Holliday, either on the sidelines or the practice field today. He also did not practice on Tuesday. Odell Beckham also still sidelined, as expected, but was seen doing some light jogging and catching more balls from the JUGGS machine.
Wilson’s snaps in practice went to veteran Peyton Hillis. Jerry’s second team spot at left guard went to Eric Herman. Herman has also gotten some with at center recently. Jonathan Hankins played with the first team defense for Patterson.
Eli Manning finally hits Randle with a fade for a touchdown. Later in practice, he found his tallest wide receiver for another touchdown on a skinny post.
Wide receiver Corey Washington and cornerback Bennett Jackson got tackled up on a deep pass play. Jackson has an apparent left leg injury, got examined by trainer, waved off the cart, and limped inside. Washington was up, but limping also, had ice on his right ankle. Defensive end Robert Ayers also spent a few minutes on the ground, but got up, flexed hit right shoulder/arm, and appears to be fine. Despite the arm flex, the injury is to Ayers’ ankle.
Backup quarterback Ryan Nassib has had his best practice of camp. Early in practice, balls were coming out nicely, and he looked calm and poised in the pocket. Nassib is showing the first indications on the practice field of the progress that coaches have praised him for in their press conferences. He will need to show it in the preseason games for the coaching staff to have the true confidence to keep only two quarterbacks on the roster this year, however. Later in practice, Nassib returned to earth, throwing an interception to cornerback Charles James, who made a nice move cutting in front of wide receiver Mario Manningham. Nassib bounced back to throw a touchdown to tight end Larry Donnell. The tight end did an excellent job using his body to shield the ball from linebacker Devon Kennard.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made a play on a deep pass from Manning to wide receiver Marcus Harris that impressed the crowd. His ball skills are a huge upgrade for the Giants secondary. Manningham made a juggling over the shoulder catch on the sidelines over Trumaine McBride. It’s the first time his name has been called in camp and perhaps indicates that he is starting to get back into football shape.
Another gadget play from the offense. Guard Mark Asper, recently signed off waivers from the Bills, caught a pass from Manning for a touchdown. No defense on the field for the play, but it seems that Ben McAdoo likes to mix in one bit of trickery into each practice. Is this a sneak peek of things to come?
Donnell caught a deep in from Curtis Painter, making him again the tight end to get noticed today. He’s lapping Adrien Robinson regularly in the battle of the young tight ends. Coughlin mentioned Donnell post practice, saying, “He’s done a good job,” and “He (Coughlin) likes what he sees.”
When the first team offense and defense squared off, Charles Brown took over at left tackle for Will Beatty, as the starting left tackle walked into the facility with trainers with an apparent hand injury. Cooper Taylor was given some snaps in Antrel Rolle’s safety spot. Taylor would seem to have first crack at replacing Will Hill in the three safety set that Perry Fewell has successfully deployed in his time as Giants defensive coordinator. If Taylor can step up, it’s a defensive configuration that should figure into game plans again NFC East powerhouse offenses from Philadelphia and Dallas. Taylor’s size will make him an asset in coming up to stop the run if that’s a countermeasure against the unique deployment of personnel. Coughlin called Taylor “Bigger, stronger, and faster,” in his post practice press conference.
Rookie sensation Kennard made his daily impact hit, this time on running back Kendall Gaskins, drawing a reaction from the crowd. Practice ended with Jameel McClain tipping and intercepting a Manning pass and returning it for a touchdown.
The most interesting comment from Coughlin during his press conference concerned the new offense. The head coach said that the it “Not quite halfway” installed, but added that the team was “A little sharper” today in practice.
The team practices again tomorrow before heading to Canton for the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday Night. Check back here for the first August edition of Camp Notes.