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Why Joe Judge puts Giants through old-school drills in training camp

Giants head coach Joe Judge adjusts his mask

Giants head coach Joe Judge adjusts his mask as he coaches his players during training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, NJ, on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. Credit: Brad Penner

Back in the old days there were plenty of times when things got spicy in training camp. Tuesday evening was a throwback to those times. In fact it may have been the most physical workout the franchise has ever held on the fields of its facility which opened about a decade ago.

It included goal-line plays and even live one-on-one tackling drills.

“Listen, we can’t get the guys ready to drive on I-95 by riding back roads,” Joe Judge said. “If we think the Pittsburgh Steelers are coming in here to hug us, we’re all sadly mistaken.”

As titillating as it was, that kind of hitting does come with some risk. In fact, the tackling drill ended on a sour note when CB Corey Ballentine injured his right shoulder in a collision with WR Austin Mack. Ballentine was able to shake it off after a while and returned to practice after some scary moments.

For Judge, that’s the cost of doing business.

“We have to train these guys in a physical manner to make it safe to play the game the way it needs to be played,” he said. “I’ve been doing that drill… for the better part of a decade. It’s a safe drill, it’s a controlled space, it’s how we can teach guys to safely have collisions because that’s what the game is, a collision game.”

Judge said he will go to that one-on-one drill throughout training camp and may even bring it back in the regular season. He said it can be used for a player returning from injury to test where they are health-wise.

None of this should come as a surprise. At his introductory press conference in January Judge spoke about making the Giants a tough team and said he would use live tackling in practices. He’s a man of his word.

“Normally there is a shock factor when the fans watch that at first and when the media sees it at first – ‘Oh, they’re hitting!’ – but just put it in the context of what we’re trying to do every play,” Judge said. “We’re not doing anything out there to try to see who the toughest guy in the schoolyard is. We’re trying to get every player ready to play safely for 60 minutes against a competitor for 16 weeks.”

New York Sports