And here I thought Devon Kennard looked good when he wasn’t allowed to hit people. Put the kid in shoulder pads and … whoa boy!
The rookie linebacker – let me rephrase that, rookie STARTING linebacker – made the hit of the day early on in the team’s first practice with shoulder pads. It was during a special teams drill in which he was to drop back and set up to block an on-coming gunner. In this case it was fellow rookie Bennett Jackson. A guy from USC against a guy from Notre Dame in a high-speed collision? You know this is going to end hard.
And it did. Kennard blocked Jackson so well that he actually lifted the cornerback into the air like Ivan Drago punching Apollo Creed in the midsection. Thrown the damn towel! Needless to say the veterans loved every minute of it. The only thing that makes them more excited than a rookie getting hit hard is when a rookie makes a hard hit. In this case they got both.
One cute moment at the end of that drill was when Dan Fox went up against Justin Anderson in a battle of rookie linebackers. It wasn’t the play so much as the epilogue. After Fox made his way past Anderson he ran up to a guy standing behind the end zone and play-tackled him with a bear hug as if he were the ball-carrier. That guy was GM Jerry Reese. When you are an undrafted rookie free agent, you take whatever opportunities you can to make an impression on the front office?
It wasn’t all that adorable, especially late in practice when Eli Manning looked like he collided with Andre Williams in the backfield and fell to the ground. Uh-oh! Manning got up quickly and certainly seemed as if the tumble woke him up. On the next play he gunned a bullet between Jameel McClain and Antrel Rolle that was caught by Rueben Randle (he almost collided with Williams again on that one, btw). Then two plays later he lofted a horizontal pass over Quintin Demps for Marcus Harris. Manning was 3-for-3 after getting grass stains on his knee and would have been 4-for-4 had Walter Thurmond III not broken up a pass for Victor Cruz on Manning’s final snap of the drill.
So, for the third time in four practices Odell Beckham Jr. was not participating. He was catching some passes on the side from a Juggs machine, but was not with the team for any drills. That hamstring is still giving him trouble, apparently, and Tom Coughlin is so disgusted by the injury that he’s decided that the reporters who cover the team will know when Beckham is ready to play before he does. I doubt that.
There were two sets of one-on-one coverage drills going on, so I’ll only describe the one that took place in front of me. A few plays of note: Prince Amukamara and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie broke up the first two passes of the drill intended for Rueben Randle and Victor Cruz, respectively … Walter Thurmond slipped in coverage against Mario Manningham, but recovered in time to catch Manningham and strip the ball away from him for a fumble … Charles James II also slipped while covering Trindon Holliday, but neither of them made the catch. Later in practice those two players would exchange some words after another coverage … DRC made a nice physical break-up of a pass for Julian Talley … Ross Weaver broke up a pass on a comeback route by Cruz but probably would have drawn a PI flag … Kellen Davis made a nice catch down the seam.
In 11-on-11s, the ball was on the ground a lot more than anyone wanted it to be. The second snap was botched between Eli Manning and JD Walton and the next snap was a near fumble on a handoff from Manning to Andre Williams. Williams, by the way, was playing with the first unit at the start of the no-huddle drill and Rashad Jennings was in on the goal-line, which is opposite from what the Giants had been doing so far in camp … Randle made a nice catch over James … Bennett Jackson nearly had an interception on a deep ball from Manning but Jernigan was able to break it up … Kendall Gaskins fumbled the ball after running through the line of scrimmage, prompting some vocal displeasure from Coughlin … DRC dropped an easy interception on the sideline in which he was square to the ball and got two hands on it. JPP put a beating on Charles Brown on that same play … Kennard was part of a group that stuffed Jennings … Robert Ayers Jr. batted down a Manning pass at the line of scrimmage, something that could become an issue for the offense if they stick with these short quick passes … Manning hit Cruz for a short but easy touchdown behind Jayron Hosley.
The team took its daily siesta in the field house to get out of the not-hot and not-humid conditions. Hey, it’s in the schedule! We’re not going to let a little perfect weather alter plans!
Brandon McManus was 4-for-4 on FGs including a long of 47. He hasn’t missed yet, although Coughlin said vet Josh Brown has an advantage so far in FGs despite a miss yesterday. McManus might be your opening-day kicker folks. Don’t ink him in, but don’t be surprised when it happens either.
Just a few more plays from the rest of practice to note:
Manning overthrew Cruz down the left sideline after Cruz got behind Amukamara … A blitzing Jameel McClain was able to knock both Charles Brown and Geoff Schwartz to the ground … David Wilson took his first hit since neck surgery and nothing happened, which is good … Ryan Nassib threw an incompletion to Adrien Robinson while rolling to his left and trying to throw across his body … In 7-on-7s, Manning’s pass across the middle for Cruz was behind the receiver and incomplete … Antrel Rolle made a big hit on Jerrel Jernigan on a deep ball down the left sideline, helping to force the incompletion. Eli still hasn’t connected on a deep pass this camp … Curtis Painter found a wide open Daniel Fells … Back in 11-on-11s, Ayers and Damontre Moore had a jailbreak passrush against Nassib to force an incompletion … Nassib’s deep pass for Jernigan was intercepted by Charles James II after Jernigan seemed to stop on the play … Mark Herzlich made a nice interception on a Painter pass over the middle, reaching up with one hand before pulling the ball into his body for the pick … Rookie safety Nat Berhe made a good physical hit on Michael Cox.
No practice tomorrow, so DOUBLE BANDS!