It was a mild summer day with low humidity, and the Giants enjoyed what Tom Coughlin called a “Mental, learning day,” following two days of fully padded practices where the team went all out. Ereck Flowers, Weston Richburg, and Prince Amukamara returned to the field, while Nat Berhe, Geoff Schwartz, and Jameel McClain did not. It was short, uneventful practice, where two sets of offensive and defensive teams squared off simultaneously before scurrying off the field.
Justin Pugh: Giants Line was the NFL Standard
One of the story lines of the early part of training camp is the Giants offensive line injuries, and Justin Pugh would like to see his teammates back on the field. Pugh qualified his statement, however, adding that he wants them back healthy, and not too soon making them prone to re-injury or aggravating the injury that’s kept them out of the lineup.
Getting the camaraderie going on the offensive line is important, and seeing the five regular season starters gel as a group is important, say Pugh, but not at the expense of their regular season fitness to play. In that regard, Pugh disagrees with former Giants center Shaun O’Hara, now a NFL Network commentator, who called out the injured player this week. Pugh and O’Hara have talked, and while the men disagree, Pugh knows that O’Hara’s statements come from his loyalty to the Giants organization.
“He wants to see those guys out there because he knows it’s important for us to win games,” explains Pugh. Adding that he respect O’Hara and what he accomplished as a Giants player. He added that Geoff Schwartz told the Giants linemen that when he was with the Carolina Panthers, they studied the Giants offensive line, calling it the NFL standard at the time. Something Pugh would like to see happen again with this generation of Giants linemen.
Asked if his playing left tackle in Flowers absence is hurting his development at left guard, Pugh said it still allows him to work on his left side technique and he is logging time at the guard position as well. The Giants value flexibility, and Pugh wants to be able to play left tackle, if needed, and know practice time at the position will give the coaching staff a comfort level with using him in that capacity.
The injuries on the line has opened the door for the younger players in camp to get additional practice reps, something that Pugh things is a great opportunity for them. “It’s huge for those guys to show the coaches what they’ve got,” says Pugh.
As for the joint practices with the Cincinnati Bengals next week, Pugh doesn’t know what to expect as the Giants have not held joint practices during his time with the team. He believe they will be more intense, with players anxious to put their best performances on for their respective coaching staffs. He knows they will pull back to avoid injuries but says the practices will be as close to game intensity as possible without being an actual game.
Odell Beckham: It’s Going to be a Great Year for All of Us
Odell Beckham sees the offense as starting to click and sees it as a harbinger of a great year for the team. Despite limitations on his practice time, Beckham is feeling good, has opened up at times, but is also taking is slower. “I’m just trying to make it through as many practices as possible,” says Beckham, who missed almost all of training camp in 2014.
Don’t ask Beckham what his practice limitations are, however, as he will tell you that’s up to the trainers. “I’m feeling pretty good,” he explains, but his hamstrings are on his mind constantly. “Ask anyone who’s run track or pulled a muscle,” says Beckham. Adding that no matter how hard you try to put prior injuries out of your mind, they are always there.
Beckham doesn’t understand the NFL’s rules on what constitutes a catch any better than the rest of us. His advice to his fellow receivers, “Don’t let the ball hit the ground. Don’t let it go. Just don’t give them an opportunity to review it.”
Expect Giants receivers to line up in many different spots in their offensive formations this season. It’s something they started doing last year and have expanded in 2015. It’s designed to prevent defenses from playing coverages designed for specific receivers and limit their ability to game plan.
Beckham was surprised by the autograph incident last week at Giants training camp where fans mobbing him in an effort to get his autograph caused bleachers to collapse. Saying that he never wants to see children in harm’s way, Beckham added that he hopes there will never be a similar incident.
Robert Nunn, Defensive Line Coach: Each Defensive End Does Something Well
Many of the questions for defensive line coach Robert Nunn centered around on of his star pupils, absent defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul. But Nunn can offer little about Pierre-Paul’s injury, saying multiple times that he only knows what he’s read about it and has no idea when Pierre-Paul might return to the team.
“I’ve spoken to him, and texted with him frequently,” says Nunn, “His response has been: Coach, I’m good, I’m going to get myself right and I’ll be back.” Nunn added that most of what they talk about is unrelated to football and a favorite topic is how Nunn misses “Busting his chops in meetings.”
Of most concern for Nunn, and everyone in the Giants organization, player, coach, and front office, is Pierre-Paul’s mental and emotional well being. Everyone has let him know that they are there for him, and will help him in any way we can, Nunn added.
As far as the Giants defense is concerned, they are proceeding as if Pierre-Paul won’t be back, and haven’t changed their plans in light of his absence. Steve Spagnuolo’s system is being installed, adjusted, and tweaked, the same way it would if all the defensive ends were present. Nunn is impressed with the players he has to work with and says each one has something to offer and does some things better than the others.
Kerry Wynn has stepped up when given the opportunity, and “Is a different player with the pads on then when they are off.” Owa Odighizuwa is “Off to a good start, but we need to get him into better condition.”
When speaking about George Selvie, Nunn calls him a hard working professional who shows up every day and does what’s asked of him. Selvie’s attitude “Bleeds through the whole room.”
Johnathan Hankins, who earlier this week said he’d like the opportunity to rush the passer in obvious passing situations, may get that chance, if he earns it, according to Nunn. The coach was impressed with his work on pass rushing and wants to see him continue to develop.
The NASCAR package that features four defensive ends may not be used exclusively in a passing situations as it is vulnerable to the run. The coaching staff is evaluating their options at this point in camp. Stopping the run is a challenge that’s been issues to the defense and the players are rising to the challenge. Nunn knows they won’t be able to gauge their progress until they face opposing offenses in live games.
Markus Kuhn is a player who has improved each season, and Nunn sees him as one who didn’t have a lot of production, but caused a lot of production on the field. Working to improve his foot quickness and agility, Kuhn needs to stop leaving plays on the field to increase his playing time.