It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … Kenny Phillips!
Yup, he was back on the field for tonight’s practice leaping tall buildings in a single bound. He made one play on a deep ball down the right sideline thrown from Jim Sorgi for Victor Cruz, screaming across from the middle of the field to the sideline to get there. It looked like he could have made the interception or taken Cruz’ helmet off, but he did neither. For Phillips, it was just enough to get there.
And for the rest of the Giants, that was plenty too.
“Superman is back!” the defensive backs on the sideline yelled after the play as he came trotting over to them for his requisite break.
“Keep testing him!” implored safeties coach Dave Merritt.
"I kind of recognized what was going on," Phillips said. "I saw the formation -- they had a running back and a tight end to the right side of the field with two receivers to the left. So I figured they're not throwing over there to the two sluggo guys, I knew they were throwing it over to the two receivers. So with that already in my mind, once I saw the route, I just took off for it and I was right.
"That definitely felt good. I feel like what I've been doing for these last 11 months and the way the coaches have been letting me gradually get in the ballgame has paid off. I'm just looking forward to that next step - no pain, no soreness. I feel good with my range and everything so I'm just looking forward to it. That's all I'm waiting on."
Phillips was on the field and getting back into Phillips shape. He also dropped back into coverage to be in the area when Sorgi threw a deep ball in his direction to Derek Hagan, although that was a seam and he didn’t get to show off the range he is so famous for.
"I'm trying to be real patient because I know the coaches only want the best for me," Phillips said. "But it is tough, it really is. You know, I want to get those reps, and I want to get my legs under me, but I know this is going to be a long process and whatever they say I'm going to do."
Rich Seubert saw his first team action with a newly modified cast on his left hand. He was feeling so spry that he even raced Eli Manning across the field from one drill station to another. He, like Phillips and Shaun O’Hara, seemed to be on the two-snaps-and-out program.
Those who did not practice: Kevin Boss, Scott Chandler, Travis Beckum and Jake Ballard (once again Bear Pascoe was the only active tight end and he’s starting to look a little worn down), Corey Webster, Sinorice Moss, Steve Smith, Kevin Boothe (PUP) and Chris Snee.
Besides Phillips’ highlight there were some other nice plays from the practice. The team worked on one-on-one drills in the end zone and twice Ramses Barden outjumped Aaron Ross for a touchdown grab. But Barden also had a chance to make a nice catch down the left sideline later in practice and once again seemed to try (and fail) to make a one-handed grab when two hands would have probably secured the ball. Instead Courtney Brown got credit for the breakup.
The Giants defenders were in the backfield twice to interrupt would-be handoffs to running backs. First Michael Boley blitzed through and was between Eli Manning and Ahmad Bradshaw early in practice. Then later Osi Umenyiora timed the snap and beat Will Beatty, getting there to intercept Jim Sorgi’s exchange with Andre Brown.
Here’s a name we haven’t heard much from in this camp: Gerris Wilkinson did a nice job falling back into coverage and batting away a pass from Rhett Bomar for Pascoe. The ball wound up intercepted by John Busing. Wilkinson couldn’t keep the good mojo flowing, though, and he slipped in coverage in the two-minute drill when Hakeem Nicks ran a slant that would have gone for big yardage.
Another guy who had good and bad moments today was Nate Collins. The good: he stuffed a run by Brown in 11-on-11s. The bad: He got chewed out by special teams coach Tom Quinn for not lining up in the right spot on a kickoff drill.
Lawrence Tynes connected on all six of his field goals, including a 50-yarder at the end. He also kicked a 37-yarder after a low snap that was placed down by Matt Dodge. Making that even more impressive, it was on a “mayday” call in which the field goal unit has to rush onto the field and get the kick off. Nice job by Dodge.
Nice job by the Giants too … eventually. One of Tynes’ kicks went over the fence and was caught by a little girl who ran over to her family with what she thought was a souvenir. When the Giants asked for the ball back – and she did give it back – the crowd booed. Soon enough, though, she was presented with another football. The crowd cheered.
A few other injuries to think about tonight: David Diehl limped off the field after rolling his ankle. He had it taped up and didn’t miss any reps, but with the rest of the offensive line filling a wing of a hospital right now, it’s something to consider. Also, Dwayne Hendricks went down in a pile and was clutching his right knee. He had to helped off the field with a heavy limp. Not sure what his future holds, but the Giants can’t wait around for him to get better. Those guys at the bottom of the roster have it tough. If they can’t take the snaps, the teams have no use for them.
That’s the real Hard Knocks of training camp.
And finally, don’t think the defense is the only unit that does a little chirping When Bomar hit Duke Calhoun on a deep ball late in practice, tackle Jacob Bender was jumping around the field hoping and shouting. It was pretty funny, especially since no one else on the offense seemed to want to join him.