Practice report: A 10-second drill, Connor with the ones, and lots of kickoffs
Wish you were here!
Giants practice was closed to the public today because of a scheduling overlap with some soccer matches at MetLife Stadium, and despite the eeriness of there being almost no ambient noise (other than a circling NJ State Police helicopter and Ryan Torain screeching on kickoff returns) it was a pretty exciting practice. Full pads. Beautiful day. Almost perfect.
I say almost because of the way the workout ended, with Eli Manning connecting on a deep pass to Brandon Myers on the first snap of a two-minute drill. It probably wouldn’t have been a touchdown – it looked like Stevie Brown would have been able to tackle Myers before he reached the end zone – but it got the offense close enough to kick what would have been a field goal.
Antrel Rolle was covering Myers but fell off him as the tight end adjusted to the pass and broke outside. Not sure if he lost track of the ball or if there was a miscommunication that he thought he had help on the outside.
Tom Coughlin, of course, was not happy that his drill turned into a one-act play and ended practice early. The play began with 1:14 on the clock. It ended with 1:04.
“That’s not supposed to happen,” Coughlin said. “We’re trying to do the drill. I’m trying to do the drill. Get all we can out of the drill. But, we’ll do it again.”
Just not today. While Coughlin could have pulled the offense back and started over, he chose not to.
“There’s two sides to that,” he said. “What is the objective? The objective is to get the ball to a certain point for a field goal. They got it there. So now what am I going to do, change the objective? Change the game? Change the rules? I don’t usually do that.”
Back to the beginning. While no one actually returned to the field from injury, there did seem to be some progress from a few players. Justin Pugh, who has been out for a few days with a concussion, was feeling well enough to emerge from the facility and stand on the side to watch practice. He did almost no physical activity – didn’t even try to ride the bikes – but having him outside seems to be a step in the right direction. I would think he might be close when the team returns to practice on Tuesday after tomorrow’s day off. Jason Pierre-Paul, who is on PUP, was also outdoors doing some stretching and moving around. He’d been locked up inside for most of the first week of camp too, resting his back after surgery.
Corey Webster and Hakeem Nicks (groins) remained sidelined. Nicks did very little with trainers on the side. The plan is still for him to return on Tuesday. Meanwhile, a few other things to watch for: Rueben Randle seemed to be having some trouble in his legs. He spent some time on the exercise bike trying to get loose during special teams drills and was doing a lot of extra stretching while participating in team drills. Also, Aaron Ross spent the second half of practice wearing a wrap around his left thigh. But he remained on the field.
The Giants were changing some positions around today, trying to get good fits and get people used to working with each other, so we saw some different combinations. On offense, for example, James Brewer slid outside to take some reps at right tackle after spending most of camp at right guard in place of Chris Snee (PUP/hip). Dan Connor was getting some reps with the first team at middle linebacker for the first time this summer. In fact on a few nickel situation Connor and Jacquian Williams were the linebackers.
The Giants also used an interesting look on defense that had three down linemen – Kiwanuka, Linval Joseph and Cullen Jenkins – plus Justin Tuck standing over the center and oscilating between sides so no one could tell which gap he was going to rush through. It worked as Tuck was able to knife in and put pressure on the quarterback. Unfortunately he was knocked to the ground and rolled a little bit and there was an audible gasp from the coaches and just about everyone else as he came within a few feet of rolling up on Eli Manning’s legs. It wasn’t close to a disaster, I don’t think, but imagine if the Giants lost their quarterback in that fashion? Yikes. Also worth noting: When they lined up for that one-play two-minute drill, the defensive front had Adrian Tracy and Mathias Kiwanuka at the ends and Cullen Jenkins and Justin Tuck inside.
The Giants spent a lot of time on kickoffs today. First they worked on returns and had an interesting foursome of blockers in front of David Wilson: Mark Herzlich, Damontre Moore, Adrien Robinson and Johnathan Hankins. Wilson, Randle and Michael Cox handled all of the returns. Wilson bobbled one of them but it was in the back of the end zone anyway. Cox was yelled at by Tom Quinn not to run out of bounds and to lower his shoulder at the point of contact. On his next return he did that, popping into Aaron Curry. Cox also let his first attempt at a return fall short and hit the ground, but that probably had more to do with the wind than anything Cox did wrong. After that play the Giants changed directions so Josh Brown was kicking with the wind at his back and the plays were much more serviceable.
Here’s an interesting drill that the Giants defense participated in. They line up, drop to their assignments, then sprint to one of the assistant coaches who pretends he just caught the ball about 15 yards downfield. Once they have all swarmed to the ball, they race back to their positions for a quick snap and sprint to another assistant coach another 15 yards or so down the field. They zig-zag down the field like that, with about four sprints. The Chip Kelly drill? Perhaps.
After that it was on to 1-on-1s with receivers and defensive backs on first-and-goals from about the 10. Myers caught the first TD in that drill (symmetry for later on?) with Stevie Brown covering him … Manning overthrew Randle with Prince in tight coverage … Ryan Mundy tipped a pass away from Bear Pascoe … Larry Donnell had the ball in his hands in the end zone on a pass from Ryan Nassib but Antrel Rolle was able to strip it out … Jamie Childres beat Cooper Taylor, who slipped in coverage … Aaron Ross had a nice PD against Victor Cruz … Randle caught a fade from David Carr with Laron Scott in coverage … Will Hill broke up a pass to Childers … Curtis Painter had the ball slip out of his hands at the end of a throw it looked like he wanted to pull back. No more tuck rule this season! … Prince capped the drill by breaking up a pass for Ramses Barden.
Next up was the 9-on-7 running drill. The Giants used Jenkins at DE a lot in the drill, but on the second play it looked like he misread something and left a gap open that allowed Andre Brown to run through on the right side … Linval Joseph clogged things up for David Wilson … Johnathan Hankins was once again playing well in the trenches. He made two plays that I noted and at one point Justin Tuck yelled out: “I see you 74!” … Damontre Moore missed a chance for a tackle and decided to channel his inner defensive back. He dropped to the ground and did a few pushups … Eric Herman looked pretty quick pulling out in front of Michael Cox.
In 11-on-11s, Amukamara made a diving PD on a crossing route to Randle. I thought it was a great play. Apparently Prince thought it should have been more. He dropped for pushups, indicative of missing an interception. That seemed to be a pretty high standard. Later, in 7-on-7s, Prince made a play that required no pushups. He picked off a pass from Manning that was intended for Louis Murphy, but Murphy slipped in his break out of the route and Prince was able to come up cleanly and take the ball for what would have been a pick-6.
Back to the 11s, where Victor Cruz made a catch on a low pass from Eli Manning. It was the kind of pass we’ve seen Cruz drop a few times this summer so far, where he has to bend down and catch the ball on the run. Tough play. He made this one … The Giants ran a direct snap to Andre Brown … David Carr went deep for Ramses Barden, who had Ryan Mundy beat but jumped too soon. Had Barden taken another step he might have been able to time it better, and maybe even catch the ball in stride without leaping for it … Adrian Tracy put a good hit on Donnell after the TE caught a screen pass. A play later Justin Trattou gave a good bump to Da’rel Scott on a run … Kyle Bosworth was in the backfield to disrupt a running play by Cox.
Speaking of hitting, there was some on kickoff coverage drills. The first was when Jacquian Williams put a nice lick on Laron Scott, who was the scout team returner. A few kicks later Ryan Mundy put a good hit on lead blocker Ryan Torain (and vice versa) and Cooper Taylor was there to pop Laron Scott … Damontre Moore seemed to do well in the coverage drills.
At the start of 7-on-7s the Giants went four wide with David Wilson, Rueben Randle, Murphy and Cruz. Manning wound up throwing the ball to Myers on that snap … A play after Prince had his interception, Antrel Rolle dropped one. The pass was behind Donnell and Rolle nearly laid out for the ball … Manning did a nice job of threading a pass for Kris Adams between Connor and Tyler Sash … David Carr had to throw a ball away because Connor and Terrence Frederick had Wilson and Adams covered up completely on the right side … Trumaine McBride fell behind Kevin Hardy on a deep pass but managed to catch up and dive to disrupt the would-be catch … Barden caught a pass from Nassib with Junior Mertile on his back … Clement caught a pass from Nassib while rolling over and Jake Muasau touched him down.
In the final set of 11s, Murphy caught a pass from Manning and gave Jayron Hosley (playing oustdie in place of Corey Webster) a straightarm … Cruz dropped a pass from Manning near the sideline on a play-action pass … The second offense had trouble getting together. First they struggled to regroup in a hurry-up situation and then Brandon Mosley jumped offsides. Coughlin was not happy … Barden caught a pass from Nassib and slipped between two defenders, leaving Muasau and Mertile to hit each other … Nassib completed a pass to Childers that was unremarkable except for the way Nassib reached out to his right and was able to pull in a wayward snap.
The teams then went to the red zone. David Wilson seemed to score on a spin move, but who’s to say he wouldn’t have been tackled? … Cruz caught a pass from Manning that looked to be short of the end zone … Muasau put a nice pop on Cox coming through the hole, then on the next snap he covered Childers and was able to break up a pass in the end zone. Back-to-back strong plays by Muasau.
After that, the Giants lined up for the 2:00 drill. And very shortly after that …