Sha’reff Rashad was the big winner the first day of training camp, coming away with the coveted “Hot Potato Championship.” Yes, at one point in today’s practice the Giants defense was playing hot potato with footballs. And they were getting into it pretty good. It’s all part of the excitement that Perry Fewell has brought to the team.
First the players broke up into positions and played the game, tipping the ball to each other as quickly as they could and being eliminated when they either dropped it or made a bad pass. Then the winners from the position groups came together for the championship round. The final two players were Rashad and Mathias Kiwanuka. And Rashad won on what was a bad pass from Kiwi.
Tom Coughlin joked (at least I think he was joking) that the drill was for our benefit, to give us something to talk, tweet and write about. I asked him if he’s ever had a team that played hot potato. He said he was on a little league baseball team once that did.
Maybe tomorrow the team will play duck duck goose. There might even be a pinata.
Anyway, other than that spirited foray into childhood birthday party games, it was a pretty lackluster practice. It was hardly a practice at all, really. The offense was on eon field, the defense on another, and the two hardly ever met. There were a few one-on-one passing drills that took place, but to be honest with the Giants corners playing off the line of scrimmage now it wasn’t quite as exciting as it’s been in the past. Derek Hagan made a nice over-the-head catch on a deep ball from Eli Manning with Antrel Rolle in coverage, and that was probably the only true highlight.
The players also worked a little on punt returns. Aaron Ross, Antrel Rolle, Sinorise Moss, Mario Manningham and Adam Jennings did most of the work there. Late in the event Matt Dodge came out for his debut as the Giants' punter. He had more than a few eyes rolling when he started out with some short kicks right down the middle, but it appeared that he was just warming up and taking it slow on purpose because by the end of the drill he was booming some pretty good-looking 60-yarders.
We were watching the defense for most of practice and I can report the way the depth chart looks:
Starting with the first unit across the front were Justin Tuck, Barry Cofield, Chris Canty and Kiwanuka. Osi Umenyiora took a few reps with the ones as well. The starting linebackers were Boley and Sintim outside and Goff in the middle. Terrell Thomas and Corey Webster were at corner and Rolle and Deon Grant were at safety.
The Second team had Jason Pierre-Paul and Dave Tollefson at ends with Rocky Bernard and Jay Alford at tackle. The corners were Bruce Johnson and Aaron Ross while Michael Johnson and Rashad were the safeties. Bryan Kehl and Chase Blackburn were outside linebackers while Keith Bulluck was barking the calls from the middle.
Everyone besides the two PUPies – Kenny Phillips and Kevin Boothe – participated in the workout. Phillips spent about 10 minutes working on drops with the medical staff on a side field and that was about it. He spent the rest of the practice standing off to the side with his helmet balanced atop his head.
Coughlin said Ahmad Bradshaw looked good despite not participating in the conditioning test this morning. He also said that it seems Bulluck came through the workout fine even though he didn’t run this morning either. As for Gartrell Johnson, who struggled to complete the run, Coughlin said it looked “like rigor mortis set in” on the eighth of 10 laps across the field.