Giants Training Camp Notes: August 17, 2015

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On another host, steamy, humid day in New Jersey, the Giants took to the practice field while four player rode stationary bicycles on the sideline. Safeties Landon Collins (knee) and Cooper Taylor (toe) were joined by left tackle Will Beatty (torn pectoral) and cornerback Jayron Hosley (concussion) on the bikes. Rueben Randle (knee tendonitis) and Nat Berhe (calf) missed practice, while Prince Amukamara (groin) started out the day working with trainers on the sideline.

There was some good news for Hosley on the injury front as tests on his neck came back negative. Hosley is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol and will need to be cleared before he can resume practicing. Victor Cruz declared himself 100% healthy and expects to play against Jacksonville on Saturday night. He will likely be on a very limited snap count. General Manager Jerry Reese echoed Cruz’s optimism regarding playing in Saturday’s preseason game.

Collins being able to ride the exercise bicycle as well as do some light jogging on the sideline is an excellent indicator that his strained MCL is starting to heal. This is on top of yesterday’s day-to-day injury designation rather than the expected week-to-week. Last season, an MCL injury forced running back Rashad Jennings to miss 4 games. Cruz caught a touchdown pass early in the practice session. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas returned to practice today after missing yesterday with a stiff neck.

The first team offensive line again featured John Jerry at right guard and Marshall Newhouse at right tackle. After three plays, Geoff Schwartz rotated in for Newhouse at right tackle. Later in the practice session, Jerry kicked out to right tackle for a few snaps. Adam Gettis was flattened by Kenrick Ellis in a late drill. Rookie Bobby Hart also took some snaps at right tackle with the second team.

At the other position of great concern, Jeromy Miles and Bennett Jackson lined up as the first team safeties. New arrival Brandon Meriweather rotated in with the first team early in the session. After finishing his work with trainers, Amukamara took part in some defensive drills. Amukamara and Collins took part in the defensive walk through.

Defensive end George Selvie walked off the field gingerly, seemingly favoring his ankle, and spent some time getting examined by the trainers.

Odell Beckham went up high again Jackson to snare a pass and came back later to catch another touchdown. One of the NFL’s top receivers, Beckham is giving the Giants banged up secondary all they handle on a daily basis.

Preston Parker went to the sideline and had his thigh wrapped. Julian Talley, who had a strong game on Friday, caught a sideline pass against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Talley has had a strong camp, but is swimming upstream with the Giants deep receiving corps.

Coughlin gathered the team for a long speech after practice and they cooled down before going in for the evening.

Tom Coughlin, Head Coach: Teach and Make Corrections

Tom Coughlin addressed the media in advance of this evening’s practice. He spoke of Meriweather, whom he called a physical safety who comes down in the box well. He also said that Meriweather will add a degree of toughness to the secondary, which is something you want. Regarding Meriweather’s penalties and “Other issues,” Coughlin said you obviously don’t want those, but believes that the competitive Meriweather will be open to coaching.

Asked why Meriweather was available in August, Coughlin revealed that he has a toe issue that was corrected and that the Giants, among other teams were monitoring it. The timing was perfect, given the team’s need. At 31 years of age, Coughlin considers nine year veteran Meriweather a young man who is “Not ready to be put to rest, yet.” The sarcastic side of Coughlin emerged when Meriweather’s fit on the team was asked as he replied, “He’s a safety, we need safeties.”

Coughlin again emphasized that he expects a big season from Eli Manning, citing his preparation, physical condition, and drive. In a great state of mind, Coughlin said Manning, “Is prepared to be better than he’s even been.”

Cruz went through yesterday’s entire practice and is ready to be back out on the field again today. While he has to do things gradually, Cruz has shown he can increase his workload and is moving well. Coughlin did not reveal a timetable for Cruz to appears in a preseason game.

Schwartz took some snaps at right tackle yesterday when Newhouse overheated and had to go into the training center. Coughlin said Schwartz has played on both sides of the line and will play where ever the team needs him. Despite the time he’s missed with his foot/ankle issues, Coughlin assumes that he is available until told otherwise, without restrictions. With his return to practice, Coughlin needs to see him on the field to know Schwartz can be counted on.

Coughlin said the offense, defense, and parts of the special teams need to improve based on Friday night’s game with the Cincinnati Bengals. The coaches have looked at the tapes, will teach the players, and make corrections. While it seems like an over simplification, it’s the way of the NFL world. There’s no panic or overreaction to one preseason game.

Steve Spagnuolo, Defensive Coordinator: Play More Physical and Faster

Steve Spagnuolo joined the chorus of voices that says the Giants didn’t start out Friday’s game with the Bengals the way the team had hoped. But he points out that they went into the game without a game plan and played a very vanilla defense. The long run plays given up are something Spagnuolo believes can be corrected, and he was encouraged be how the young players performed in the red zone, where Cincinnati was often held to field goals. Spagnuolo did add that he’s prefer that opponents not be allowed to get into scoring range in the first place.

One of the issues, offered Spagnuolo, is that players were thinking too much, causing them to be delayed in reacting. We wants them to think fast and react, to chase perfection, and to make up for the lack of it with relentlessness. Spagnuolo takes responsibility for the first touchdown surrendered, and would have played the formation differently in the regular season if a game plan had been in place.

Of new safety Meriweather, Spagnuolo called him an aggressive talented player. He knows Meriweather would prefer not to change his playing style, but believes time away from football may soften his stance in that regard. The NFL’s safety rule has forced aggressive players to lower their strike zone, and Meriweather needs to follow suit. One can assume this was a conversation before his signing and one that will be a frequent topic while he’s remains with the team.

Trevin Wade, who has an interception in Friday’s game, is a player who deserves recognition according to Spagnuolo. He’s always around the ball, makes plays, and has stepped up when other players have been injured. Spagnuolo said that Wade is a player that no one knew about when camp opened.

Of Miles, who is fighting for a starting safety job, Spagnuolo said he’s viewed as a career special teams player and backup, but is a hard worker. He was signed because he’s a known quantity, but has “A ways to go, like we all do.”

Speaking of the defensive ends, Spagnuolo said they will be moved around and inside as long as the defense puts them in position to do so. Asked about Kerry Wynn, Spagnuolo said he’s a solid football player who made some uncharacteristic mental errors on Friday. He added that Wynn is getting better as a football player every day.

Collins’ knee injury will set him back, but he’s standing with Spagnuolo at practice to stay in tune with the defense. On field experience is invaluable to a rookie, especially one that who will have responsibility for making defensive calls, and missing time mean he has to play catch up. Spagnuolo would prefer to never start a rookie, but Collins experience at Alabama made him an exception to that rule. Losing time to his MCL sprain may offset his advantage.

Spagnuolo said he can’t really miss Jason Pierre-Paul because he’s never worked with him. Wishing him good health and a speedy recovery, Spagnuolo said he’ll for an opinion about his abilities when he returns to the Giants.

Devon Kennard is a good football player who is a versatile strong side linebacker. He can play off the line or line up with his hand in the dirt. Spagnuolo wants to keep him healthy and take care not to overload him, but is challenged because Kennard wants “More and more.” Spagnuolo describes these as “All good qualities.”

As far as improving the defense’s performance, Spagnuolo wants to see his players be more physical and play faster. He said that “You can make up for a lot of mistakes if you do that.”

Geoff Schwartz: No Different at Tackle

Schwartz doesn’t feel 100%, but he won’t expect to until next season. He says that no players ever feels 100% after the first day of camp and that the best players overcome it over the course of the season. Schwartz practiced yesterday and is practicing again today and does not expect to miss any more practice due to his ankle.

Playing tackle is not a big adjustment for Schwartz, who says that most of the adjustments are made off the field. When you’re in a game and the coaches say, “Go play right tackle, you have no time to think about it. Your training takes over,” explains Schwartz. There are different angles, but I’ve played all over the line and it’s not that different.

As for playing Saturday against the Jaguars, Schwartz doesn’t see why not. “If I practice all week, I don’t know why I wouldn’t play. I’m approaching this week as if I’m playing on Saturday.”

Robert Ayers: Something to Build On

Robert Ayers is learning and getting better every day and while he admits to making some mistake, he also knows he’s doing some things well. Working on being a leader on the Giants defense, Ayers is also trying to become a better person, leader, and teammate. And he is enjoying learning from new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.

When reviewing film, Spagnuolo point out nuances on opponents formations. “He puts you in a position to be successful,” says Ayers, “It’s football 102.” Ayers goes on to say that Spagnuolo makes little comments when he’s explaining plays that allows him and others to gain a greater understanding of how offenses are attacking them.

“I expect to completely dominate whomever we play. I expect it of myself and of my teammates,” said Ayers in response to a question whether the Giants poor performance against the Bengals on Friday was the expected outcome. He added that no matter how they played, corrections would be needed.

In good performances, there are things to correct, and in bad performances there are things to correct. It’s something to build on, explained Ayers. He also said he doesn’t remember anyone’s preseason records from last season.

Trevin Wade: Aggression with Technique

Wade worked with his college strength and conditioning coach to get ready for camp as he believes Corey Edmond knows his body best. Wade is having a solid camp, so there must be something to it. Edmond texted Wade after Friday night’s game, but not to congratulate him on his interception, but to point out that he should have held on to the one he dropped. Wade laughed as he relayed the story and said he will find Edmond where ever he goes to work out with him during the off season.

When on the field, whether with the first team defense or not, Wade is focused on the defensive call, reading the offensive formation, and making a play for the team. He wants to do his job or, as Wade puts it, “Coach says Do your job plus.” He didn’t specify which coach, but it’s likely cornerbacks coach Tim Walton.

At the conclusion of yesterday’s practice, Wade defenses a pass to Beckham that resulted in an interception by Bennett Jackson. It was after Beckham has made a leaping catch on Wade and he was mad about that play. Assuming the offense would test him again, Wade was resolved to better defend the Giants top receiver and did, making a highlight sensational play with Jackson’s assistance.

Wade said he was aggressive which, it was pointed out, the coaching staff has said will cover up mistakes. Wade corrected the statement, saying that it must be “Aggression with Technique,” because without technique, the unbridled aggression will only result in busted plays.

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