Okay, just got in from the afternoon practice. The good news is that everyone who was supposed to practice today did. That includes Hakeem Nicks, Kevin Boss, Keith Bulluck and Osi Umenyiora. Kenny Phillips, Kevin Boothe and Shaun O’Hara remained sidelined.
That meant a few changes to the rotations, particularly on defense. Osi Umenyiora started with the first unit at right defensive end and Justin Tuck was at left end. But about halfway through the first team reps Mathias Kiwanuka came in and replaced Tuck at left end while Umenyiora stayed in.
Meanwhile Bulluck was taking the second-team reps at middle linebacker and looking good doing it. Well, he was looking confident anyway, making calls and directing other players around. I have no way of knowing if he was making the correct calls. But he evoked my confidence.
On offense, Boss was with the ones as was Nicks (although Nicks didn’t have a stellar practice with a few drops). Nicks and Steve Smith were the starting wideouts. Once again it was Ahmad Bradshaw taking the first snaps with the offense. As I noted this afternoon, I don’t know if that’s a big deal or not.
The offensive line started out familiar with Koets replacing O’Hara. But after a few snaps Rich Seubert moved from left guard to center, David Diehl moved from left tackle to left guard, and Will Beatty took over as left tackle. That’s an interesting dynamic to watch in this camp and I (and others) will have plenty to say about it in tomorrow’s papers I’m sure.
The defense went to a nickel package a few times and Clint Sintim came out and was replaced by Bruce Johnson and not Aaron Ross as I might have expected. In fact Johnson took over the outside and Terrell Thomas shuffled inside to cover the slot. Peter Giunta spoke about that yesterday, how they’ll have all of the corners do different things in camp and go up against different types of receivers so they’ll know strengths and weaknesses and figure out where everyone fits. I’m sure Ross will get snaps with the nickel soon enough. In the meantime, he seems to be getting more and more comfortable as the team’s punt returner.
We saw a few flashes from Jason Pierre-Paul today. Nothing back-flippish, but he did plow through Jacob Bender on one play to make a stop on a run in 11s and in one drill where the coach tipped the ball in the air and the player had to jump for it he skied higher than anyone else. Unfortunately he didn’t catch the football, but he was well above the rim for what that’s worth.
As far as some standouts in the 11-on-11 snaps, Dave Tollefson had a nice pressure and a likely sack … Courtney Brown broke up a pass from Rhett Bomar to Victor Cruz … Jerome Johnson caught a pass and then put a juke move on Gerris Wilkinson … Steve Smith made up for his dropped deep ball this morning by making a nice turning catch down the right sideline in 7-on-7s. He beat Webster on the play, although it looked like Webster pulled up a little bit … Aaron Ross went up high against Ramses Barden in what sounds like a mismatch but Ross managed to break up the pass from Jim Sorgi. A year ago Barden makes that catch and everyone is oohing and aahing … Umenyiora put a nice spin move on Diehl in the red zone, but on the next play the offense ran right at him … Nicks caught a high pass from Manning over a leaping Terrell Thomas. Jacobs fell down on the play and was a little shaky getting to his feet, but he appeared to be just fine.
Two more practices tomorrow – same times as today, 8:35 and 3:15 – and then no practices on Wednesday. The team goes full pads on Thursday evening. That’s always a good one to watch.