In the early days of fall, summer is breathing it’s last gasps of heat and humidity upon New Jersey as the Giants, one game out of first place in the NFC East following the Philadelphia Eagles loss to the San Francisco Forty-Niners yesterday afternoon, took the field for their first practice in preparation for Sunday’s game against the Atlanta Falcons. All eyes are on Odell Beckham, who was again on the practice field, although still limited to individual drills, but expected to practice fully on Wednesday and Thursday, in hopes of seeing his first game action this week.
Saying that his body “Feel great,” Beckham is looking forward to practicing with his teammates at full speed for the first time since July. The Falcons game has been his target, and he wants to play, but is aware that the ultimate decision is up to the trainers, and head coach Tom Coughlin. To best prepare himself mentally, Beckham has taken extra one-on-one meetings with quarterback Eli Manning to go over signals, nuances of the offense, and expectations. While realizing that his speed gives the Giants offense the ability to throw deeper passes than have been featured in the first four games of the season, Beckham doesn’t see a need for the team to change their strategy upon his return. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” said Beckham, quoting the time honored adage. However, having him on the field will force teams to respect his speed, and that will open up new worlds for the suddenly successful Giants offensive unit.
Coughlin is not as optimistic about Beckham, saying that he “Did some more things” today, but still has to impress the coaches before he’ll play in a game. The points required for Beckham’s return, which Giants360 will be looking for mid week, are, per the coach, “He has to practice, practice on repetitive days, show us that he’s not only strong enough, but that he can endure day after day.” He added that he hasn’t seen that from Beckham’s limited practices yet. A follow up question asked if Beckham’s return centered on his returning punts, and Coughlin replied, “No.”
Coughlin also provided updates about the other injured Giants, saying that linebacker Jon Beason (toe aggravation) seemed to be okay, and “Did a little bit.” Rookie linebacker Devon Kennard, who like Beckham is battling a hamstring injury, was described as “Not bad, getting better,” and Coughlin added that he hopes he’ll be back soon. Kennard was the only player not to participate in at least individual drills during the open part of today’s practice.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who left Thursday’s game against the Washington Redskins with a thigh injury, but later returned, was a participant in practice, but appeared to still be bothered by the injury. Expect the Giants to be cautious with him this week, but count on him to be in the lineup against the Falcons.
Cornerback Jayron Hosley returned to practice today, fresh off his four week suspension for violating the NFL’s drug policy. The team was granted a one week roster exemption for him and won’t make a decision until next Monday, October 6th on whether to waive someone to make room for him, or release him. Hosley was one of the worst performers in the defensive backfield this preseason, so unless he improved dramatically during his month away from the team, his time as a Giant is down to seven days.
Coughlin deflected a question about Hosley, saying, “We’ll see what he looks like, we have until next week.” After being asked about Hosley, Coughlin remarked, “Any other injured people you want to talk about?” moving the press conference on to the players that have been on the field.
His demeanor changed drastically for the better when a question came about the Giants progress, and why he thought it would be sustained. Coughlin’s unusually verbose answer spoke volumes about his enthusiasm, “That’s the direction we’re headed. We’re trying to improve on a weekly basis. We’re trying to do things we didn’t do in the beginning. We’ve had some take aways. We’ve had pretty good control of the ball… We’ve done some things that work well together as a team. I hope that continues.”
Known for his meticulous planning and attention to detail, Coughlin was asked if his plan was altered because of all the new faces on the team this season, with many arriving from different NFL franchises. He responded that “Every team is a new team. Everything you do is adjusted for every team.” Adding that returning Giants veterans are an integral part of indoctrinating veterans from other teams on how the Giants operate, one could hear the pride in Coughlin’s voice.
Enjoying a rare Sunday off, Coughlin watched the Falcons game against the Minnesota Vikings to help prepare for Sunday’s match-up. Earlier in the day, he was occupied, able to attend his 11 year old grandson’s football game – a rare in season treat for the very family oriented Coughlin. He also said he flipped between the other two late afternoon games, but Coughlin’s main focus was Atlanta as they are the Giants next opponent.
The Falcons have suffered devastating injuries along their offensive line, having three linemen leave yesterday’s game. Center Joe Hawley was carted off with a knee injury that appeared serious. Left guard Justin Blalock injured his back and right tackle Lamar Holmes, his foot. With only two reserves active, tight end Levine Toilolo was pressed into emergency duty as right tackle. Prior to the season opener, Atlanta lost starting left tackle Sam Baker for the season to a knee injury, forcing them to move rookie Jake Matthews from right tackle to left. These injuries will have a major impact on the Falcons offense as they try sort through the remaining parts of their shredded offensive line.
Another interesting match-up to watch on Sunday will be former Giant Osi Umenyiora lining up against his former daily practice partner Will Beatty. Having gone against each other so frequently, they are familiar with other’s moves and tendencies. Umenyiora will be especially fired up to face his former team, but Beatty has been highly successful blocking this season. Per profootballfocus.com, Umenyiora has struggled both rushing the passer, which is his forte, and against the run, where he has always been vulnerable. This is one to keep an eye on.
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