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Unhappy Joe Judge makes Giants start all over again

Giants head coach Joe Judge works the sideline

Giants head coach Joe Judge works the sideline during a scrimmage on Sept. 3, 2020. Credit: AP/John Minchillo

After about 20 minutes of practice on Thursday, Joe Judge gathered his team to tell them explicitly — not to mention expletively — how unhappy he was with their energy and tempo. Then he did something that players may not have even thought was possible.

He made them start the practice over again. From the very beginning. Restretch. Redrill. Reeverything.

“That was definitely the first time,” linebacker and defensive captain Blake Martinez said of seeing that tactic at an NFL workout. “It was one of those moments where we didn’t come out the right way and we needed to refocus and get things going again. We did that. We had to bounce back and show our resolve and our ability to adapt, as a team understand what we were doing wrong and come back and fix it.”

It was yet another illustration of Judge holding the Giants to a high standard. It was also an example of the team buying into his methods.

“I love it, I love it,” Saquon Barkley said.  “That’s something that we know we’re going to focus on. Everything we do is going to have purpose behind it. Coach didn’t like how we started off, so we started over. As captains, as leaders, as a team, we had to step up to the challenge and I think we responded.”

“It was really cool how everybody took it in a positive way,” Martinez said. “It wasn’t like: ‘Ugh, here we go. Why are we doing this?’ It was like: ‘Hey, this is what we need to fix and we need to make sure we get this right.’ I think we all understand how big this first week is to set a statement for ourselves as a team on what we want to be moving throughout the season.”

Finding vigor and enthusiasm for a midweek practice on a sticky humid afternoon may be one of the most important things a team like the Giants can work on as they get ready to play their regular-season opener on Monday night against the Steelers. When they take the field at MetLife Stadium, there will be no crowd there to provide that lift. The Giants will have to dig and find it themselves.

“On Monday there won’t be any restart,” Barkley said, “so we have to find a way to have that energy and find a way to have that purpose from the beginning. It shouldn’t take a restart for it to happen, but that was the case [Thursday] and that was the challenge coach presented us with and I believe we responded the right way.”

Notes & quotes: LB Markus Golden (illness) was the only Giants player who did not participate in practice, according to the first injury report of the season. WR Golden Tate (hamstring) was limited, as was DB Adrian Colbert (illness), LB Tae Crowder (hamstring) and TE Levine Toilolo (hamstring). LB Blake Martinez, who had been held out of some practices late in training camp, was not listed on the injury report.

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