Practice report: Defense too physical, injury door swings both ways, Laron Scott ends with a pick
After a day off from practice, the Giants returned to the field with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.
“Sometimes a little too much,” Tom Coughlin said.
That’s because the big bad defense kept knocking his poor little running backs to the ground. The first time it happened Coughlin had a legitimate gripe. Ryan Mundy came in and leveled Ryan Torain and Torain was slow getting up. That was in 11-on-11s and Coughlin yelled at Mundy. “Do not tackle!”
Later, when the team went to 11-on-11 red zone plays, Da’rel Scott wound up on the ground and a few players nearly fell on top of him. It did look like Scott slipped or tripped and was not exactly tackled. Still, Coughlin wants everyone on their feet.
So on the next play, Jacquian Williams reached out to tag Scott as he was running past him and knocked him down with one extended arm. That’s when Coughlin went to defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.
“I told him a couple of times, but it wasn’t any discussion,” Coughlin said. “What are we doing knocking people down? We’ll get it.”
Lots of injury news and updates today. First the guys who came back: Chris Snee and Terrell Thomas were activated from PUP and were in pads. They did individual drills and some unit work but I didn’t see either in any team drills. Hakeem Nicks was back from his week-long groin watch and was limited but he looked pretty sharp in the plays he was on the field for. And Corey Webster returned from a groin as well. He seemed to be unencumbered and participating fully.
Sticking with the already hurts for just another moment, Justin Pugh was doing some running on the side but was not in pads. And Jason Pierre-Paul was also running, even though he remains on PUP.
There were a few guys who were injured during practice. James Brewer took a shot to the helmet in 9-on-7s and had to leave practice. He’s being evaluated for a concussion. Tough break for Brewer, who stepped in for Snee while the guard was hurt even though it meant he couldn’t compete at his natural position of tackle. Snee coming back was Brewer’s chance to throw his hat in the right at right tackle. Brandon Mosley, by the way, was taking first-team reps at right guard with Snee still extremely limited. Also injured were rookie S Taylor Cooper who strained a right hamstring and TE Larry Donnell who rolled his left ankle late in the workout.
On to football!
Victor Cruz dropped an early attempt at a punt return and heard some boos from the crowd. That would be a big story if this were the Jets and the head coach had to defend him from the fans. Instead, Cruz just caught some passes later on it practice and the fans realized that they really don’t want him returning punts anyway.
The first team action was in the 9-on-7s in which Brewer was injured. Mark Herzlich, back with the starters after ceding a day to Dan Connor, made a nice play on David Wilson from the backside. Curtis Painter botched a handoff to a running back (couldn’t see who it was) and Damontre Moore was there to pick it up.
Meanwhile, the receivers and cornerbacks were working on one-on-one drills in the red zone. Trumaine McBride did a nice job covering Ramses Barden and picked off a pass. Brandon Collins put a sweet double move on Jayron Hosley, as the cornerback jumped outside and he slipped inside for an easy touchdown. And perhaps the play of the drill was when Kevin Hardy jumped up for a catch in the corner of the end zone. Cornerback Charles James was defending the play and grabbed the sleeve of his jersey and pulled Hardy down hard. He landed with a thud on his side, but Hardy held on to the ball for a touchdown.
On to punting, where Hosley was having a hard time getting through a double team as a gunner. He was stood up about 15 yards past the line of scrimmage on one play I saw and couldn’t get past his two blockers. The wind was blowing really hard so that the drill had to change directions. With the breeze at his back Steve Weatherford was booming kicks that were going nearly the length of the field. David Wilson caught one going back into the end zone, and so did Jerrel Jernigan. Torain, before he was injured, slipped through and blocked a punt for the scout team. That’s not supposed to happen.
The Giants were so feisty that Herzlich and fullback Ryan D’Imperio got into a little tussle on the ground on a play in which Weatherford took a snap and scrambled around in the end zone before taking a safety (by design). They separated cleanly at the whistle. Herzlich's job was actually to hold D'Imperio on the play, which is what blockers are taught in that situation because holding in the end zone is just as viable a result in that situation. But he was holding him pretty good, like a big brother tormenting his younger sibling.
In 7-on-7s, the Giants opened with an interesting look with three wides that included Nicks, Cruz and Bear Pascoe(?). Of course the ball went to Brandon Myers on that play … Corey Webster made a nice play coming up to defend a curl route by Louis Murphy and knocking the ball down from behind … Manning threw a seam pass to Pascoe that was incomplete. It looked like Pascoe hesitated just a bit on the route before he turned and saw the ball coming his way. Keith Rivers was in coverage on the play … Manning overthrew Murphy on a deep ball down the right sideline that was perfectly defended by Aaron Ross. The veteran defender never let Murphy get behind him and slowed his pace to keep Murphy from accelerating to the long pass … Hosley looked like he had soft coverage on a pass to Kris Adams, and later on Brandon Collins caught a ball in front of him too … Ryan Nassib tried to hit Collins deep down the right sideline but Terrence Frederick was there in coverage … Collins dropped the last pass of the drill from Nassib.
One thing we noticed about all of the drills today was that the defense was focusing on stripping the ball from the backs. Most of the time they held on. But early in 11-on-11s Da’rel Scott fumbled. It looked like Aaron Curry forced it and Johnathan Hankins pounced on it … Curtis Painter tried to throw a screen pass to Da’rel Scott but Dan Connor was right there to knock it away and Damontre Moore was putting pressure on the passer … Nassib’s deep pass for Hardy was intercepted by Charles James. The ball was thrown to the outside while Hardy’s route was to the inside … Kyle Bosworth was in position to make another play behind the line of scrimmage, this time on a handoff to Michael Cox. On the next play it was Justin Trattou who grabbed Cox … David Wilson managed to hold onto the ball with Antrel Rolle and Linval Joseph trying desperately to dislocate it from his grip … Cruz caught a pass on a crossing route while taking advantage of a mismatch in coverage. Spencer Paysinger was on him.
Finally, in the red zone, Manning threw a high pass to Cruz with Webster and Stevie Brown both in the area … Andre Brown made a nice spin move to get away from Paysinger but he wound up right in the grip of Linval Joseph … Manning hit Cruz for a touchdown but Nicks was wide open on the right side on a breakdown in the coverage between Stevie Brown and Hosley … Bosworth did a nice job sticking with Cox on a wheel route. The pass from Nassib was overthrown anyway … Will Hill was in the backfield to break up a run by Cox … And on the final snap Nassib tried to throw a touchdown to Collins but Laron Scott was able to pick it off and return it for a touchdown. It was the second straight practice that ended with a big play like that. On Sunday, Manning hit Myers for a long completion that killed a 2:00 drill after just one snap.