Teams have various ways of honoring their former greats. They retire numbers, have Rings of Honor and sometimes even name streets after the legends who helped shape the history of each franchise.
Ben McAdoo is putting his own twist on that reverence by naming portions of his practices after some of the best to ever wear a Giants uniform. On Monday, for example, the team participated in “the LT period” as part of their first OTA of the offseason, named after Lawrence Taylor.
“The game is about the ball, the game is about blocking and tackling,” McAdoo said Monday. “This organization has a lot of rich tradition in each of those three areas. Putting names to the periods, putting a face with the period and with ball security and with tackling and with blocking, I think it hits home with players.”
The Giants have a ball security and takeaway drill called “The Duke,” which was the nickname of former owner Wellington Mara (in Mara’s honor, the official football model of the NFL is called “The Duke” and has that label imprinted on every game ball). There also is a blocking drill named after Chris Snee. The “LT period” is for tackling . . . or, in the case of offensive players, avoiding defenders’ attempts to do so.
The players do seem to respond to having the segments connected with players of the past.
“Those are two guys that really set the tone for what it means to be a Giant,” center Weston Richburg said of the Taylor and Snee monikers, “so it’s cool to have that as the name of the period.”
It also might give them something to aspire to. Maybe one day they will have a drill named after them. Then again . . .
Asked what the “Snacks Drill” would consist of, 350-pound defensive tackle Damon Harrison jokingly replied: “Probably just sitting down.”
Cruz still on side
Don’t expect to see Victor Cruz on the field with his teammates until training camp.
The wide receiver is being treated with exceeding caution as he attempts to return from a calf injury that cost him all of the 2015 season and a torn patellar tendon that has kept him off the field since early in the 2014 season.
“He’s working to get back to training camp,” McAdoo said. “Small steps.”
As such, Cruz did not participate in the OTA on Monday. He jogged around the field with other players dealing with injuries while the rest of the team practiced. Cruz participated in some of the earlier offseason drills and has been running routes and catching passes from Eli Manning. There is no indication of any setback in his rehab from the calf surgery and Cruz still appears ready for the start of camp. The players will report for that on July 28.
“You just understand we’ve got to get him healthy,” Manning said. “We’ve got to make sure that everybody is being smart and everybody is understanding that he’s had several injuries and surgeries and a tough past. Just make sure you’re being smart with his workload and we’ve got to make sure we get him to training camp. When the doctors and everybody say he’s cleared and ready to go or if he can do this and certain things, then it’s a good thing.”
Just don’t expect that word for another two months.
Manning’s first impressions of wide receiver Sterling Shepard, the team’s second-round draft pick, have been strong. “I thought he’s done a good job of picking things up,” Manning said. “You can see he’s caught on. He’s caught everything that’s been thrown at him these last couple of weeks on the field, so that’s always a good start.” . . . Odell Beckham Jr. doesn’t have to catch a football to display his athleticism. In practice Monday, he leapfrogged equipment manager Joe Skiba on his way back to the huddle. Skiba isn’t going to be confused with Manute Bol, the late 7-7 NBA player, anytime soon, but it still was an impressive leap . . . McAdoo didn’t take time to reflect on his first OTA as head coach. “I’ve been doing this my whole life,” he said. “This is an opportunity that I dreamed of and I’m just out here attacking the job.” Asked if he still is counting his “firsts” as a rookie head coach, McAdoo said: “I’m over it.” . . . S Cooper Taylor underwent surgery on a core muscle last week and is expected back for the start of training camp . . . DT Johnathan Hankins, returning from a torn pectoral muscle, looked powerful hitting the sleds and blocking pads . . . Incumbent starter Jasper Brinkley opened the OTA at middle linebacker. Rookie B.J. Goodson, projected as a future middle linebacker, played strongside with the second team while Keenan Robinson played the middle with that second unit . . . WR Geremy Davis made a fully extended diving grab . . . New CB Janoris Jenkins broke up a pass from Manning to Beckham . . . Bennett Jackson practiced after being held out earlier in offseason workouts coming off knee surgery last year. He lined up at safety and in the slot as a nickel back . . . Rookie DE Romeo Okware, RB Orleans Darwka and T Byron Stingly worked on the side during practice. DT Montori Hughes attended but did not participate in any drills.