On another mile summer day in New Jersey, the Giants had a fully padded practice in advance of an off day prior to traveling to Cincinnati for join practices with the Bengals. Their injury list swelled again with safety Bennett Jackson (Quad) and linebacker Cole Farrand joining Prince Amukamara (groin), Nat Berhe (calf), Geoff Schwartz (ankle), and Jameel McClain (stinger) on the sidelines. Jackson has been one of the superstars of camp and seemed to be on track for one of the starting safety positions.
Ereck Flowers and Weston Richburg returned to the practice, moving Justin Pugh back to left guard and somewhat stabilizing the offensive line. With Schwartz still sidelined, John Jerry took with first team reps at right guard, with Marshall Newhouse remaining at right tackle.
Damontre Moore was extremely active along the defensive line, enjoying one of his best practices to date, often penetrating and disrupting the offense’s rhythm. Jeromy Miles took first team snaps at safety beside Landon Collins, taking the place of Jackson, who has been a fixture in the defensive backfield.
The offense made some plays in 11 on 11 drills, with both Rueben Randle and Victor Cruz catching touchdown passes from Eli Manning. Odell Beckham enjoyed a spectacular practice, beating both Chykie Brown and Josh Gordy with athletic catches, one for a long touchdown down the left sideline.
Brown is taking first team snaps for Amukamara after Jayron Hosley received the majority of the snaps in Thursday’s fully padded practice. Hosley appeared to give up on a play, surrendering a long play and drawing the ire of the coaching staff. After Johnathan Hankins dove and landed on him, Brown went down, holding his right knee and screaming profanities. After having his knee tested for stability, he got up and walked off, obviously hobbled, with trainers. Hosley took Brown’s place with the first team defense.
Cornerback Trevin Wade registered the first official interception of Manning in camp with a leaping interception on a pass intended for Randle. A potential interception by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in Thursday’s practice was “Overturned” when coaches reviewed practice videos. Rodgers-Cromartie intercepted Manning later in practice, giving the quarterback two on the day. Manning later found James Jones for a touchdown. Jones has been especially impressive with his downfield blocking during camp.
Coughlin spoke with Jason Pierre-Paul and said it was good to hear his voice, but he’s no clearer on when the defensive end might report that prior to the conversation. He declined to speculate on a time frame.
Cruz will travel to Cincinnati, according to Coughlin, but it’s unclear if he will practice or play in the preseason game. He’s “Moving along very well,” per the coach.
Coughlin has already addressed the team in the wake of the brawl that broke out in the Washington/Houston joint practices. Coughlin wants “Good, hard practices, but none of that.”
Pat Flaherty, Offensive Line Coach: This Will Be a Good Offensive Line
Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty knows that all of his offensive linemen want to be on the field, but can’t because they are injured. As a coach, he doesn’t spend time worrying about things he can’t control, and injuries are among those items. Flaherty disagrees with former Giants center Shaun O’Hara who called the player’s toughness into question. Saying it’s an issue if injury, and not mere soreness, Flaherty cites daily discussions with Tom Coughlin. Flaherty calls O’Hara’s statements “One man’s opinion.”
Flowers and Richburg took part in yesterday’s jog through, bolstering the line, and their availability for today’s more strenuous practice, left up to trainers, was a welcome sight.
Players are being shuffled about in different positions, all part of the effort to identify the best starting five combination and foster versatility among the linemen. It’s a plan that Flaherty has used successfully in the past. With so many linemen sidelined, it’s given a chance for veterans and rookies alike to make an impression on the coaches.
While he’d like to see the five regular season starters identified before training camp ends, Flaherty cautions that it won’t end the competition for positions. “You want coordination, communication, and chemistry among the linemen, but the attitude from the players that I’m going to get a job is something you always want to see,” says Flaherty.
Regarding Flowers, Flaherty says it’s always bad when a young player misses time, but his attitude is great, and that he was “Chomping at the bit” to get back onto the field. Flaherty also noted that Flowers pass protection skills are improving.
Pugh appears to be a man in flux, as he’s taken snaps at both left tackle and left guard in camp and Flaherty was remarkably non-committal about his future. What’s important, said Flaherty, is that Pugh win his position, run or pass, on every play. There are technique differences between the two positions, varied angles, and subtleties. Flaherty thinks it’s good for Pugh’s development to know both and mentally consider the differences as he takes reps.
Of Brett Jones, the Canadian linemen who won every award imaginable in the CFL, Flaherty said, “He’s developing every day, and has had more peaks than valleys.”
Calling this group of linemen a talented group, Flaherty says they are far from having arrived, but that’s why the team practices. He believes there are enough linemen in camp to form a good offensive line. It’s appears that the coach is not looking to add Jake Long or Evan Mathis any time soon.
Landon Collins: First NFL Game
Even though it’s a preseason contest, Collins sees next week’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals as his first in the NFL, and he’s exciting. It follows a week of joint practices, that will feature the unknown, and that’s fine withe Collins as well. Seeing players in helmets other than blue will help the defense measure their progress, and it’s important to know where they stand.
Adjusting to the depth of his backpedal is the biggest change for Collins, who lined up deeper in Alabama. He’s closer to the line of scrimmage in the Steve Spagnuolo scheme, and that changes how far and fast he has to backpedal.
The safeties also control the secondary, and reading their keys and lining their teammates up correctly will prevent “Bomb plays and wide receiver running free.” While Collins adjust to the new scheme, he’s also trying to communicate with a rotating group of teammates and win a starting job. Chemistry is important, and he believes the secondary will have it, once the dust settles and the starters emerge. He plans to be one of them.
Trumaine McBride: It’s Like a Preseason Game
Cornerback Trumaine McBride compares the join practices with the Bengals to another preseason game. He expects the players to be fired up and things to be “Chippy” because they are practicing against player that are not their teammates. But because it’s a practice, and it will be controlled, he’s not worried. McBride calls it a mindset, seeing different receivers and formations and not knowing what to expects. It’s exciting for the players to see something new after lining up against the same men day after day.
McBride is not worried about where he ranks on the cornerback depth chart, but rather he concentrates on making the team first. That’s his focus every summer and this year is no different. What is different is his position, where McBride is playing nickel corner rather than outside, and is learning the nuances of that position.
Also different is taking direction from the young safeties who will be calling the signals in the secondary. McBride is not concerned as he says is incumbent upon the cornerbacks to know they their jobs.
Lining up against the Giants wide receivers gives McBride a unique perspective on Cruz, who the cornerback says looks good. “He’s fast, still quick, and his hands are there. He’s the same,” says McBride.
The Giants signed rookie safety Justin Halley. To make room on the roster, wide receiver Chris Harper was waived with an injury designation. Halley is the ninth safety on the roster as the team continues to try out seemingly unlimited combinations to find the best starting combination for opening day and the best four to keep on the final 53 man roster.