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For 2-10 Giants, practice has made far from perfect 

Giants running back Saquon Barkley stretches before practice

Giants running back Saquon Barkley stretches before practice during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, N.J., on July 31.  Credit: Brad Penner

The Giants have an extra day of practice this week.

Good for them! Another opportunity to shine!

In case you hadn’t heard, the Giants team that you see on Sundays — and likely will see again Monday night against the Eagles – is very different from the one that plays lights-out football behind closed doors during the week. There, in the privacy of their daily walkthroughs and workouts, the Giants are world-beaters.

“We practice like we are 10-2,” running back Saquon Barkley said of what he experiences in those midweek victories. “It’s our work ethic. If you were able to come in and watch us in the weight room and the attention to details in meetings, it’s all there.”

The trouble is that we can’t. Even the media that covers the team only gets to see the first 15 to 20 minutes of each practice, enough to watch the players stretch and go through some individual drills. So we have to take the Giants’ word for how good they are during those times.

Because when the rest of the world gets to see them, they’re pretty bad. That 10-2 team Barkley sees is 2-10 in games. Practice, for these Giants, makes far from perfect.

“Obviously we’re not getting the final result we’re looking for,” Pat Shurmur said. “But throughout the game you see a lot of really good plays on both sides of the ball … It’s one of those things, and it probably plays into what Saquon is saying, there are times when things look really good and then we have those mistakes that hurt us. Especially against a good football team.”

So why can’t the practice Giants translate into the gameday Giants? Are they camera-shy? Is it stage fright? Are they just so bad that the only team they can play better than is themselves?

They’ve been scratching their helmets trying to solve the mystery for a while now.

“When you work hard for something and you are putting in the time and the effort and things aren’t going your way, it sucks,” Barkley said. “It’s easy to cry about it, cry and go hide in the corner, but you have to figure it out. That’s what we have to do, we have to figure it out. We have four games left to try to make it into a season that we’re proud of.”

Daniel Jones said perhaps the team has difficulty adjusting to unexpected changes when they are facing opposing teams.

“I think in practice, you’re able to anticipate a lot of the looks,” he said. “I think we need to be better in some of our awareness, realizing things on the fly, and figuring stuff out during the game.”

Shurmur insists — and has been saying so for several weeks — that he sees progress from the team and the young players in particular at those practices. Whenever he is asked about the Giants’ abysmal record and how it relates to his future with the organization, he’ll typically tout how much better the team is playing when no one is watching.

But looking sharp in practices is the goal for July and August. Once the regular season starts, teams are measured by how they perform in games.

So the Giants will return to work on Wednesday and do what they do best: Practice. They’ll trot out onto the fields tucked into the corner at the Meadowlands complex and dominate. And they’ll hope that whatever magic they conjure up during the week isn’t left behind but packed up and brought with them to Monday’s game.

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