Today is the calm before the storm, as the team takes the field on a sunny, humid day in New Jersey, kicking off their final week of training camp. Some stormy days are predicted this week, but Hurricane Coughlin may come aground at 3:30 following a lackluster performance by the Giants offense on Saturday night and another game with far too many penalties.
The quote of the day goes to running back Kendall Gaskins who, when asked why he stayed in practice last week with a thumb injury, said, “I have bunch of fingers, I may only have one opportunity.” Fullback John Conner does not have the luxury of playing through the concussion he suffered on last meaningful play of Saturday Night’s game. Conner must pass the NFL’s concussion protocols before he will be permitted to return to the practice field. While the team is not ruling him out of Saturday’s game in Indianapolis, concussions can take several weeks to fully resolve. Henry Hynoski can put a strangle hold on the starting fullback job while Conner is sidelined.
Beckham returns, but not fully. First round draft pick, Odell Beckham, sidelined since the first week of training camp with a hamstring injury, has been cleared to participate in individual drills as a first step toward getting back on practice field. He could provide the spark that the starting offense needs to start moving the ball with some consistency, as the threat of his speed will change the coverage dynamic. It’s too soon to speculate if he will play against the Colts, but if things go well this week, suiting up against the Jets on August 23rd seems realistic.
The best news for the Giants offense is the impending return of Will Beatty to game action. His presence will serve to solidify the offensive line and he provides better pass protection than Charles Brown. The play calling has been ultra conservative to protect Eli Manning from injury, given the tenuous pass protection demonstrated so far. At some point this preseason, it will have to be tested, and that test is best performed with Beatty at left tackle.
Jason Pierre-Paul talked with the media and reported that he felt good after Saturday’s game, and wants to elevate his level of play this season. Asked if his 16.5 season in 2011 is his measuring bar for this year, Pierre-Paul said, his sack goal is “unlimited,” and his overall goal is to be better than 2011. He believes that he only thing that can stop his progress is himself.
Pierre-Paul is the difference maker on the 2014 defense. If he returned to his pre-injury form, drawing double or triple teams from opponents and using his speed to disrupt plays in the backfield, it will elevate the overall defense from solid to spectacular. The talent and depth assembled front to back, is better than it’s been in 20 years, but needs a superstar to push it to the next level. The only player on the defense capable of providing that push is Jason Pierre-Paul.
Victor Cruz also addressed the media and is not concerned with his lack of catches through two games. While he’d love some in the preseason, he sees the offense getting better and better in practice, and knows it’s only a matter of time before it shows in a game. Cruz thinks the receivers ran good routes on Saturday despite their lack of receptions. On his role in the new offense, Cruz said it’s up the to receivers to make small plays into big plays, and pointed out that very little of the new scheme has been revealed in the two games. He will find it strange to see Hakeem Nicks in a Colts uniform on Saturday, and has kept in touch with the receivers as they are “Friends above all else.” They will be texting and smack talking this week leading up to the game.” When asked about Beckham’s impending return, Cruz stated that he does not believe it will take the rookie long to get up to speed.
Damontre Moore has a much better grasp on things in his second season, as he is more of a “Student of the game,” the defensive end declared when he met with the media. His year of experience and full off season program has also helped his play against the run. While pleased with his performance against Pittsburgh, Moore added, “There is always room for improvement.”
The rumor mill was spinning at top speed today speculating that the Giants are one of a six pack of teams that is interested in San Fransisco Forty-Niners holdout offensive guard Alex Boone. According to profootballfocus.com (subscription required), Boone was the 39th rated guard in the NFL in 2013. He excels at run blocking, but is a liability in pass blocking. Given they type of offense San Fransisco employs, his being viewed as a top lineman is reasonable, but so is the Forty-Niners reluctance to sign him to a long term contract. Don’t expect the Giants to part with a draft pick for Boone, as he’s not significantly better than the players they have on the roster.
As practice got underway at 3:40, Cruz, Conner, Marcus Harris, Mike Patterson and Peyton Hillis were on the sideline riding stationary bicycles. Beckham was going through stretches as though he were going to work, in keeping with the team reports over the weekend. It was also announced that Jerrell Jernigan was not practicing today, along with the bike squad members, leaving the team short handed at wide receiver. The Giants can’t be too concerned as they gave Cruz the day off to rest his knee from his off season procedure. He experienced some “soreness” after Saturday’s game. Harris is dealing with a hip issue. Jernigan is also dealing with a knee issue. Paterson continued to nurse his shoulder injury. None of them sound too serious, the team is likely being cautious and taking the opportunity to look at some of the younger players. Cory Washington will primary beneficiary of the absence of multiple first team receivers and has a great opportunity to build on the momentum he gained in the preseason games. Jayron Hosley is also sitting out with a foot issue.
Returning to practice, in a limited capacity, in addition to Beckham, were tight ends Xavier Grimble and Daniel Fells. All were fully dressed, but did not take part in team drills. Beckham participated in the wide receiver drills on a selective basis and didn’t appear quite comfortable running. He made a one handed grab on a pass from Eli Manning that appeared overthrown. It brought the attending crowd to their feet as he needed to hit an extra gear to run it down. After practice, Coughlin said Beckham “Probably” went at full speed, and that he may be extended a bit tomorrow. Coughlin also hopes to have Cruz, Jernigan and Harris back for tomorrow’s practice.
With all the receivers sitting out, Washington and Julian Talley joined Rueben Randle on the first team. Washington is taking advantage of the opportunity, catching three straight passes from Manning, and breaking up a would be interception by Jameel McClain. Running back Kendall Gaskins also earned himself some reps with the first team with his hard running on Saturday night. Manning found Randle and then Talley for a TDs. Talley’s name has not been prominent before today, perhaps he will earn more playing time against Indianapolis with the top receivers nicked up.
Curtis “Football” Painter took the second team snaps, not Ryan Nassib. His fourth quarter heroics against Pittsburgh inflated his stock.
Washington drew double coverage from Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Antrel Rolle. That’s a lot of respect for a player no one heard of before August 3rd. On the other end of the spectrum, Mario Manningham dropped three passes, and is seems to be playing himself off the roster.
Nassib checked in and threw a bullet on the sideline to Preston Parker. His second pass sailed over Randle’s head displaying typical Nassib inconsistency.
Randle made a spectacular one handed “Catch of camp” on a pass from Manning 50 yards down field with Amukamara draped all over him. He crossed the goal line splitting Amukamara and Stevie Brown. Randle tried to catch another one handed, tipped it to Rolle for an interception. Manning then threw another interception to Amukamara, bounced back to hit Washington for 30 yards in front of Prince. Washington is putting on a clinic today, making a leaping catch over Zack Bowman to haul in a pass from Painter.
Practice ended early, likely triggered by the GPS units and today’s heat.
Asked about the installation of the new offense, Coughlin said it’s where he wants it to be. The execution, however, is not. He added that running the ball will be a priority and something they will stay with. Coughlin said that Painter and Nassib will go back and forth on the second and third teams and he has not made a decision about what order they will enter the game on Saturday night. He added that Painter earned his second team reps.
The team returns to it’s 1:20 practice time tomorrow. Check back here for Giants Camp Notes.