The second day of joint practice with the Cincinnati Bengals featured both teams wearing shells – upper pads with shorts. It’s done in low contact drills and allows the coaching staff to emphasize technique with the players
The joint practice again started with special teams, but unlike yesterday, the Giants did not look crisp. Geremy Davis did have some strong moments from the gunner position.
With Geoff Schwartz still sidelined, the first team offensive line remained unchanged. John Jerry stepped in for Schwartz, and the other four starters are the men presumed to be in place on opening day. Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg showed the ability to work effectively in tandem, holding Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins at bay on consecutive plays. Marshall Newhouse was not as solid, allowing penetration several times during the team drills.
Bennett Jackson, who appears to be recovered from his weekend quad injury, was practicing with the cornerbacks, displaying his versatility. Along with Trumaine McBride and Josh Gordy, Jackson lined up as a nickel corner. Jeromy Miles lined up with Landon Collins as the first team safeties with Jackson playing corner. Jayron Hosley remained in the starting lineup with Prince Amukamara still sidelined.
Bengals running back Jeremy Hill made a one handed catch in front of Jon Beason that was reminiscent of Odell Beckham. On a later play, Hill was flattened by defensive end Brad Bars. Unappreciative of the hard hit, Hill threw the ball at Bars, drawing a penalty flag.
Beckham ran for a touchdown on a reverse during the early part of team drills. Victor Cruz was allowed to work against the Bengals defense during these reduced contact drills. He was held out of yesterday’s full contact practice.
Davis made a leaping catch for a touchdown over Adam (formerly Pacman) Jones and drew praise from his teammates on the sideline.
Collins had his ankle looked at by trainers and Mykkele Thompson stepped in for him during part of the drills. After testing his ankle, Collins returned to finish the drill with the first team defense.
Ryan Nassib threaded a pass to Adrien Robinson between three Bengals defenders. Robinson made a great catch for a touchdown on the play. The two connected again during the two minute drill portion of practice on a pass over the middle.
There were some breakdowns in the secondary resulting in deep completions over Thompson and Collins. There will be kinks in the secondary that need to be worked out and it’s unlikely they will be resolved until the first part of the regular season.
In his post practice press conference, Coughlin revealed that Cruz will not play on Friday night. As is traditional in the first preseason game, the starters will play one or two series, including Eli Manning and Beckham. Coughlin did not know if Rueben Randle would be available for the game.
Asked about the safety competition, Coughlin said he hopes it will resolve itself on the practice field before the regular season starts. He also said that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is dealing with a “A little bit of a groin,” but he’s playing through it.
In Friday’s game, Coughlin wants to see the rookies give a great effort and play hard. He pointed out that there are plenty of roster spots up for grabs.
Jeromy Miles: Undrafted Free Agent Mentality
Enjoying some time in Cincinnati this week, Miles played there from 2010 to 2013 before signing with Baltimore. As an undrafted free agent, he felt overlooked and carries that chip with him to his day. Every time Miles steps onto the field, whether it be for practice or in a game, he wants to prove he belongs there.
Practicing against the Bengals is a good test, says Miles. Players like A.J. Green, his former teammate, test your abilities. And with his past, he never takes them for granted.
Robert Ayers: Attacking Defense
List Robert Ayers among those current Giants who have joined the Steve Spagnuolo fan club. Appreciating how the Giants defensive coordinator trusts his players knowledge of the game and puts them in position to make plays has impressed Ayers. Seeing the defense as much more aggressive, he says that Spagnuolo wants the Giants to attack and be relentless, and do damage on their way to the ball carrier.
Ayers also sees Spagnuolo as a good teacher, as he not only explains the defense, but tell you why, how, and what he is trying to accomplish with each play. Also explaining how an offense might try to counter the defense’s tactics, Ayers like that Spagnuolo in not content to allow opponent to dictate the game and manipulate them. Admitting that Spagnuolo’s defense is complicated, Ayers said he’s simplified it to make easier for the Giants players to digest.
Practicing against he Bengals has been a good measure of progress for the Giants defense, and Ayers believes they “Held their own” against a good Bengals offense. He identified Owa Odighizuwa, Jay Bromley, and Damontre Moore as players who performed particularly well, and beamed with pride while describing their accomplishments.
Ayers is particularly impressed with Odighizuwa, who he predicts will be a “Monster” once he refines his game, given how quickly he picked up the defense.
Shane Vereen: Leadership Qualities?
One of the reasons the Giants signed Shane Vereen is because he came from the world champion New England Patriots, and Vereen realizes the team would like to them to spread that winning attitude throughout the locker room. But Vereen said he first need to “Get my feet on the ground and know what I’m doing.”
Seeing the Giants as a new team and a new page in his story, it sounds as if Vereen doesn’t see himself as a natural leader. He did admit that his winning pedigree was discussed when he visited the team during free agency, but may not be a role he’s comfortable in. If he starts converting critical third down, the coaching staff and front office might not care.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie: I Just Play Ball
Staying back and letting the young safeties make their mistakes has been one of the most challenging parts of training camp for Rodgers-Cromartie, who realizes it’s part of the learning process. He praises Miles, who he’s seen help his young counterparts make strides in their play since he arrived two weeks ago.
Asked how his role has changed under new coordinator Spagnuolo, Rodgers-Cromartie says it’s the same as he’s “Still on the outside covering guys,” but did conceded that the scheme is much more aggressive. The attacking style puts pressure on the cornerbacks as the smallest little things leads to an opponent’s touchdown. Rodgers-Cromartie doesn’t worry too much about it, as he says the cornerbacks just have to “Go out and compete.”
Paired with Amukamara, Rodgers-Cromartie would not rank them as a tandem in comparison with others in the NFL. When pressed, he simply said, “I don’t know. I just play ball.”
With the defensive line getting a good amount of pressure on Bengals quarterbacks yesterday, Rodgers-Cromartie sees a potential Jason Pierre-Paul return as just adding on to the talent. He believes the defense will be scary if, and when, the defensive end returns to the Giants.
Geremy Davis: Improving
Rookie wide receiver Davis describes going against the Bengals in practice as “Fun” because it feels like a game. He’s also appreciative of the opportunity to see how different cornerbacks play coverages and work against opposing receivers. Davis believes the joint practices are making him and the team better.
Seeing the Bengals defense this week will make him better able to match up against them on Friday night, says Davis. Rookie often experience a sort of culture shock in their first preseason game as they are only practicing again teammates. This week has exposed him to different players, but also those he will see on Friday. His first true test against a blind opponent will come next week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Davis appreciates the coaching he is receiving as both a wide receiver and special teams player and sees himself improving in both areas. He says that assistant special teams coach Larry Izzo has “over-coached” him due to his limited college experience. It’s made him think about special teams more and improve his techniques. Given his standing on the wide receiver depth chart, special teams play will determine if he makes the team in September.