After an off day and a day spend traveling to Cincinnati, the Giants escape rain soaked New Jersey for their joint practices with the Cincinnati Bengals. The teams did some individual work against their respective teammates and then worked against one another. It was lively, but controlled, seemed to be a hard fought, up tempo practice that benefited both teams. Tom Coughlin thought the Bengals were well prepared by Marvin Lewis and the practice want well.
There was a sense of urgency in the air for both teams, as the Giants are looking to rebound from their 6-10 season and the Bengals seek to improve on another one and done performance in the playoffs. Prince Amukamara was unable to practice, still nursing his groin injury, but Bennett Jackson returned. Both Weston Richburg and Ereck Flowers were able to practice.
The joint sessions started with punt drills, with Rashad Jennings and Jonathan Casillas getting a strong push up the middle on their rush, while Dwayne Harris, Preston Parker, and Jayron Hosley served as the Giants punt returners. Coughlin said he thought this drill was particularly crisp.
When the Giants offense took the field, their first look was a two tight end set, with Daniel Fells and Larry Donnell on the lineup. Jennings was the first halfback in rotation. Andre Williams and Shane Vereen also took snaps and all three backs looked good catching the ball.
Victor Cruz took snaps again his Giants teammates only, while Odell Beckham lined up against the Bengals and smoked cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick on a one on one drill, leaving the veteran in the dust with a move and his speed. Later, Beckham drew a holding call against Adam (formerly Pac Man) Jones, who argued with the side judge until the teams were put back into separate units to prevent tensions from flaring up.
Justin Pugh and Richburg appear to be working well in tandem on the offensive line and were especially effective blocking on a screen pass for Vereen. Both Flowers and Marshall Newhouse held up well in pass blocking against the Bengals formidable defensive line.
On defense, Damontre Moore had another good practice, using his speed to generate a pass rush. Jeromy Miles joined Landon Collins as the starting safety tandem for this session, but Jackson again looked good in pass defense and, if healthy, appears to have the inside track on one of the starting jobs.
On back-to-back plays, Andy Dalton connected with A.J. Green for a long touchdown over Jayron Hosley, and then Jeremy Hill went up the middle and to the house. The Giants defense is going to be a work in progress and require patience early in the season. Hosley was able to cover Green for most of practice but appeared to wear down as the session wore on.
On the next play, Miles made a leaping pass defense to make a play on a ball intended for tight end Tyler Eifert. Devon Kennard is logging some time at defensive end, lining up with his hand in the dirt. Versatility will be a big part of this defensive scheme.
Rueben Randle finished practice early and was icing both knees. Coughlin said that he’s been battling tendinitis.
Kerry Wynn: Depth Chart is Not Important
Kerry Wynn will not change his work habits because he appears at a starter on the Giant “unofficial” depth chart. He will continue to work hard, and do what he can to help the team. While he “Feels he can be a starter,” Wynn has not spent much time or energy dwelling on the depth chart since teammates told him he’s listed on the top at left defensive end.
More focused on the join practices with the Bengals, Wynn is looking forward to practicing against someone other than teammates and said that the coaches have told the team to be prepared, know their assignments, and play fast and relentlessly.
Since he became a surprise addition to the roster last September, Wynn has had the mantra “Don’t give them a reason to take you off the field.” He tries to improve every day, take advantage of his opportunities, and not make mental errors. Wynn hopes to be a long term Giants and continuously works towards that goal.
One of the tenants of Steve Spagnuolo’s defense is moving players around to create mismatches, and Wynn is comfortable with that, having played inside in college and obviously outside in the NFL. Asked again about his place on the depth chart, Wynn replied, “I just want to help my team win.”
Jon Beason: We Want to Get a Lot Out of These Practices
Coughlin told his players to play to the whistle, but handle themselves with class and dignity and treat the Bengals with respect, sentiments that Jon Beason echos as the joint practices get underway. Unlike games, these practices don’t have fines or penalties and can get “chippy” as a result. Both teams need to avoid that by treating the other with respect.
Going up against a team that’s been in the playoffs for four straight years is a big opportunity for the Giants to measure their progress, and Beason wants to see them get a lot out of them. Their first priority, says Beason, is stopping them run.
The Giants want to show that they are a physical and aggressive defense that can play with the Bengals. Their goal for these practices is to be tough and relentless. When practicing against their teammates, the “Brother-in-law” effect can kick in, causing players to pull back because of the familiar face across the way. In this setting, players for both teams will want to leave a lasting impression on the other and will play hard through the end of the play.
Beason points out that the Giants moved their “entire camp” to Cincinnati for the week, and while their play will be aggressive, a brawl like the one that occurred between Houston and Washington on Saturday will detract from the derived benefits. The practices are more important to the starters, who will only see one or two series in Friday night’s game. Beason and the other starters need to get their work in in the joint practices.
Prince Amukamara: Should Be Back Next Week
Out with a groin injury, Amukamara received a cortisone shot yesterday and is feeling better as a result. He traveled with the team to Cincinnati, but is uncertain of his status to participate in the joint practices or play in Friday night’s game. Doctors have told him he should rest for a few days to continue healing.
Amukamara would like to log sometime against the Bengals to see how the new defense has progressed and his experience. He believes he will be back at practice next week at the latest, but says his injury has only slowed his physical progress, not his mental development.
Recovering from a torn bicep this off season, Amukamara said it has not been an issue so far, but also cautioned that it’s not truly been tested as he’s not had to “Slam a down” at any point yet. “That will be the true test,” said Amukamara.
Jayron Hosley: Turning Over a New Leaf
Unhappy with his benching in favor of street free agents last season, Hosley respected the decision by the coaches as he was ineffective playing nickel cornerback. “It’s a production league,” said Hosley, “I wasn’t productive. I want to be real with myself.” I change from nickel to outside cornerback has helped Hosley regain his confidence and the results have been promising early in camp.
“It’s a corner friendly defense,” explains Hosley, “It takes a lot of the thinking out of the game.” Spagnuolo’s scheme relies on heavy pressure, with the cornerbacks playing primarily man-to-man coverage. Knowing what to expect and being able to react makes Hosley more relaxed and confident.
Drawing comparisons to Corey Webster, Hosley is familiar with his story, but says he’s “Going where the game takes him.” He’s turned over a new leaf, like the coaching from Spagnuolo and new cornerback coach Tim Walton and want to make the best of his new opportunity.
With Amukamara and Chykie Brown out with injuries, Hosley will see additional reps in this week’s joint practices and is ready to compete. While not pleased that it’s coming at the expense of teammate’s injuries, Hosley knows that he’s the next man up and it ready to go. “It’s a great opportunity,” says Hosley, “Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of it.”