New Jersey is overcast, tropical, and expected to be inundated with thunderstorms throughout the day, threatening to drive the Giants 1:20 PM practice into the friendly confines of the Quest Diagnostic Training Center. Should they be able to stay outside, their GPS units will undoubtedly cut the practice short as the heat and humidity, yet to be lessened by the much needed precipitation, will take a toll on the athletes.
Eli Manning, always a popular and polished interview, spoke with the media, and made a rather obvious observation that the Giants goal in the next two preseason games is to achieve some long drives. He looks forward to opening up the new offense and playing some football. Asked why he thinks the new offense will be successful, Manning replied, “We have some good players.” He said that the team needs to trust in the system before it works, that they can’t have doubts. Manning shared that today’s practice will feature a red zone installation. Asked about rookie running back Andre Williams, Manning complimented him, saying he picked up the offense quickly for a rookie.
Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo also met with the media and said that “Everyone knows” that the team needs to get off to a faster start. He said the offense is not completely installed, but that they are making small strides. Asked if he could share a percentage that is installed, he coyly replied, “I could,” but didn’t. McAdoo believes that the response of players and coaches in the Pittsburgh game showed their character and that they can overcome obstacles. He was complimentary of Manning, calling him “A pro’s pro.” Asked about Corey Washington, who was sensational in yesterday’s practice and scored the game winning touchdown in both preseason games, McAdoo said he’s a big guy who can run and catch the ball, and that’s a good place to start. He also cautioned that Washington is young and has a lot to learn, but that he is trending upward. When asked about the tight ends, McAdoo singled out Larry Donnell and Daniel Fells as the two who have stepped up, but also said the others are making progress.
Odell Beckham said it felt good catching passes from a live quarterback rather than the JUGGS machine when he addressed the media. He said his hamstring felt fine after Monday’s individual drills, and admitted that he did not go full speed. Beckham said that the plan for today was “Individual Plus.” While he knows he has to proceed slowly to avoid re-injury, Beckham feels like a caged animal and his impulse is to break out of the cage. He thinks the Giants offense has the potential to be one of the best in the NFL.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who has a reputation as a trash talker, denied it, saying he does not start the trash talking, he responds when others initiate. Asked who is the worst offender in the league, Rodgers-Cromartie called out former Carolina Panther and current Baltimore Raven Steve Smith. He said that safeties Antrel Rolle and Stevie Brown make his job much easier. Asked about Washington, Rodgers-Cromartie offered that he will be surprised if the receiver is not on the opening day 53 man roster.
The man of the hour, Washington, was next up to speak with the media and shared advice that Victor Cruz gave to him – take things one day at a time. He is proud to be one of four players currently in the league out of Newberry College in South Carolina. How many of the others can you name? Stumped? They are Brandon Bostwick, Green Bay Packers Tight End; Kamaal McIlwain, Buffalo Bills Defensive Back; and Ron Parker, Kansas City Chiefs Cornerback. No player of note has come to the NFL out of Newbarry College. The receiver recalls that only 10 scouts attended his pro day. Washington was disappointed that Arizona let him go only two weeks after signing him as an undrafted free agent. He is using the experience as motivation to succeed in Giants camp, and it is having the intended effect.
Thunderstorms held off long enough for the Giants to attempt to practice outside. Super Bowl 42 team member, and the receiver who caught the winning touchdown, Plaxico Burress came to visit with former teammates and Snoopy, who was also on the sidelines. Today is Burress’ 37th birthday. Trindon Holliday, Mike Patterson, Jerrell Jernigan, and Peyton Hillis were on the sideline as well, and not wearing the full pads that adorned the rest of the team. Patterson did some stretches, perhaps testing his shoulder. Victor Cruz and Marcus Harris were stretching and warming up with the team. Xavier Grimble put on his pads to ride the stationary bicycle.
Beckham wore full pads, stretched with teammates and did some half speed with in team drills with the second team. Harris returned to take reps with the starters in Jernigan’s continued absence. Curtis Painter took the second team snaps at quarterback for the second day in a row. Painter and Manning ran passing drills as the 1 on 1’s got underway. On another field, Ryan Nassib handed off to the running backs.
Williams made a catch in his belly over the middle on a bullet from Manning. It’s newsworthy whenever Williams hangs on to a pass. Rodgers-Cromartie lined up over Washington on a goal line fade and batted the ball away for an incompletion. Cruz came up limping after going to the turf on slant defended by Walter Thurmond. Went off to the sideline to confer with trainers, but returned for 7 on 7 drills. Manning hit him for a touchdown over Rodgers-Cromartie. He then tried for another to Beckham over Prince Amukamara, but the cornerback intercepted and ran it back the other way, with Perry Fewell matching him step for step in celebration.
The first sign of weakness may have popped up in the kicking battle. Brandon McManus went 2 for 4 on the day. Another performance or two like that, and the scales will tip easily in favor of the veteran, Josh Brown.
Williams lines up wide and runs a hitch, he looked out of sorts on the play. Taking him out of the backfield is like taking a fish out of water. He’s going to need some time to adjust to running pass patterns. Beckham slipped on a wet field, the team would be wise to shut him down for the day, don’t want a re-injury in the rain. Painter tried to hit Beckham and Thomas Gordon intercepted. At his after practice press conference, Tom Coughlin said Beckham is “building up.” He also expressed disappointment in Holliday’s continued absence, and indicated that the wide receiver/punt returner is not expected back on the field this week.
The red zone drill ended when the offense failed to score. One of the plays run was a shotgun draw. Coughlin said the team would install the entire playbook and then remove ineffective plays. That’s one play that can be removed today. We’ve seen it, it doesn’t work, moving on…
After some additional red zone reps, the team ended practice for the day.After practice, Charles James stayed out with special teams coach Tom Quinn, working on fielding punts.
Coughlin provided some injury updates, indicated that Hillis is coming along and John Conner should return to practice by the end of the week.
They will be back out tomorrow at 1:20 PM. Check back here for another edition of Giants Camp Notes.