WARE, HERTSFORDSHIRE, ENGLAND — There isn’t much to notice while walking out to practice on a typical Friday for Xavier McKinney. This time, though, it was hard not to soak up his surroundings.
“It just felt like we were in a movie,” the safety said of the setting for the Giants’ workout just a few hours after landing in London, appreciating the rolling countryside, the wooded lanes and the sight of an honest-to-goodness castle in the background of Hanbury Manor.
It was a far cry from the shopping mall and parking lots that surround the team’s practice fields back home.
“It felt peaceful, in a way,” defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence said. “It’s just opened up to a whole bunch of fields, a little pond over there. We took a couple laps, got a little stretch. Almost like we are about to do some yoga or something.”
Daniel Jones said he noticed the golf course that ran alongside the practice field. No, he said, he did not bring his clubs.
The Giants are staying on the property where they practiced, a large resort of old brick buildings and shady gravel pathways. They did the best they could to make it feel like home, setting up a locker room in large tents and carving a football field — an American football field, that is, lined with bright yellow goalposts at one end — out of a flat patch of turf. The sounds of their workout rolled over the landscape, including some apt songs blasted through the speakers: Journey, naturally, and “Born in the U.S.A.”
On Sunday they will travel about an hour south to London to play the Packers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Some of them, though, planned to head down to the city proper on Friday night to eat, do some shopping and perhaps most of all, avoid sleeping while they try to acclimate to the five-hour time change from New Jersey.
“Obviously, you acknowledge this is a cool trip relative to playing in another country, we get to represent the Giants and this game, but we have to control the things we can control,” coach Brian Daboll said. “Both teams have to fly across an ocean to get here. We try to take care of the players, try to educate them. There are no excuses for coming over and being tired. Everybody is tired a little bit . . . Our focus is doing the best we can do relative to our day which is a normal Friday.”
Or at least as normal as they could possibly pretend it was.