Don’t be like the Jets.
That was the message — even if it wasn’t said as explicitly as that — delivered by Pat Shurmur to the Giants as they headed to Detroit on Monday night for three days of joint practices with the Lions at their facility. A day after the Jets and Redskins saw their joint workouts erupt with a series of fights and brawls, Shurmur was laying down the law for his team to avoid such shenanigans.
“We want our guys to be smart,” he said. “We want our guys to compete, we want to be smart, we want to stay off the ground. We want to eliminate all that chatter outside the whistle. That’s part of being a pro is being able to practice not only with your team but with other teams.”
That may be easier said than done. First of all it involves a trust that the guys on the other side are abiding by the same rules. Shurmur has repeatedly pointed out that he and Lions head coach Matt Patricia worked together in joint practices when they were coordinators with the Eagles and Patriots, respectively, so they have an understanding of expectations regarding tempo and intensity.
Second of all, this is football. Fights flare up even when teams are practicing against their own guys. It would be more shocking if the Giants and Lions manage to get through their workouts without a dust-up than if one were to take place.
Giants guard Will Hernandez, who was involved in a “squabble” with linebacker B.J. Goodson in Monday’s half-speed drills and has exchanged shoves and even punches with teammates since he was drafted in the spring, said he’ll abide by the edict of the head coach. But only to a point.
“Sometimes you can’t avoid those kinds of situations,” Hernandez said. “I’m not against (fighting), but I’m also not for it. If it happens it happens… When you have a bunch of guys out there who are competitors, it’s bound to happen. It takes two to fight so obviously that guy is thinking the same thing [about not standing down] so that’s why things like that happen.”
Some of the other Giants players are going in with less combative and more constructive goals. Cornerback Eli Apple said he will spend the days with the Lions working on his techniques against receivers he wouldn’t normally get a chance to defend. That’s not to say he’ll be going easy.
“We’re all gas,” Apple said. “We’re going. It’s going to be intense.”
Quarterback Eli Manning said last week that he thinks facing a new defense, one that is unpredictable, will help prepare the Giants’ offense.
“Just going against a new defense, kind of getting unscripted looks, and you have to adjust, you kind of test their rules,” Manning said. “It’s different when you’re going against our defense. Now, we got a feel for what they like to do, and this and that. Going against new guys, new techniques, new style of defense, I think it’s going to be a great learning experience for us.”
That’s why teams do these joint practices, after all. To get better.
“It freshens things up,” Shurmur said. “This is more about techniques and fundamentals than it is trying to beat the Lions. We’re going to try to get the Giants better.”
It’s a nice goal. Probably the same the Jets and Redskins entered their practices with.
“Those are two teams and that’s their experience,” Shurmur said. “We’re going to try to guard against it.”