Let’s put it this way. Corey Webster had a strong practice, as did young receiver Todd Watkins. But the MVP of the workout might have been Steve Weatherford, and he wasn’t even allowed to participate.
Yes, we had the return of Bad Matt Dodge tonight. Early in practice he had so much trouble kicking into the wind that he couldn’t reach the players who were trying to return the ball. At one point Domenik Hixon had to come charging up about 25 yards just to get to the punt and wound up bobbling it. I’m going to give Dodge the benefit of the doubt here and say this was a pre-planned move, but it sure looked like they wound up changing the direction of the drill because he was just unable to get the football far enough down the field for anyone to get decent reps.
That was early in practice. There were actually two special teams sessions and on the second one Dodge wasn’t much better. In fact, he was probably worse. He even dropped a snap, which was something that plagued him last season, and managed to get off a clunky kick. He had two of those duds in a row and the fans were getting on him pretty good. Then he launched two bombs that were high and deep. It’s the frustrating part about Dodge, you never know what you’re going to get. It makes him vulnerable to losing his job to a guy like Weatherford who may not be the best punter in the world (or maybe he is) but at least you know he’ll be able to hold onto the snap.
Ok, enough about the punting (other than to tell you that the return men were Hixon, Joe Burnett, Brian Witherspoon and Jerrel Jernigan). Back to the rest of practice.
On the bikes tonight we had the two PUPpies in Barden (ankle) and Koets (knee) and Osi Umenyiora who, we all know, isn’t actually suffering from any ailment.
Eli Manning had a slow start to the practice, throwing a high pass for Nicks with Webster in coverage (a pass that probably could have but not should have been caught) and then an incompletion to Hixon with Terrell Thomas covering. His first completing was on his third pass, a short one to Manningham.
Rosenfels hit Hixon on a slant in front of Aaron Ross, once again proving that Hixon’s knee is doing fine. Perrilloux missed a deep ball to Giguere down the middle, coming up short on the pass with Cary Harris in coverage. But a few snaps later Perrilloux hit Jernigan on a 65-yard bomb that beat Tyler Sash. It was a very nice over-the-shoulder catch by Jernigan, and if he can do that in games he could be a decent downfield threat for the Giants with his speed.
One thing I liked seeing was Greg Jones, who seemed not only to be active and plugging holes on runs (it’s hard to tell because there is no real contact or tackling the ballcarriers), but at one point started to take control on the field. When a few of the other players were heading out to their positions before he had completely finished the defensive call, he screamed “Get back in the damn huddle!” I’m sure that impressed the coaches just as much as anything he did shedding blocks or moving towards the ball.
In the 7-on-7s Sage Rosenfels tried to hit Victor Cruz on a deep slant. Cruz was not the primary receiver on the play and it appeared that he slowed down his route until he turned and saw the ball coming at him and kicked it back up again. The ball went off his fingertips. Watkins made two nice catches in this session. Burnett, who probably would have had a sack in the 11-on-11s, had a nice PD on a pass to Giguere in 7s.
The team finished with 11-on-11s, which saw Manning throw a pass away so far out of bounds that it went into the stands. A fan caught it and gave it back but the Giants gave him a football anyway. He had a 1-in-632 chance of making the play because that’s how many people were at the practice (which is free and open to the public). The Eagles have signed that many quality cornerbacks in the last week.
Devin Thomas caught about an 80-yard post from Rosenfels late in the session, splitting coverage by Jarrad Tarrant and Burnett. It was a really nice offensive play but safeties coach Dave Merritt did not seem very pleased by it. In one of those training camp situations, though, to be fair, DE Justin Trattou was in the pocket and probably would have had a sack in a regular game. Later, Perrilloux tried to his Duke Calhoun down the sideline but Calhoun jumped a hair too early and the ball went off his fingertips.
Practice ended with some red zone work, and Perrilloux capped the workout with a nice pass to Travis Beckum who was wide open in the corner of the endzone. Those two connected on three passes in practice that I noticed.
At the end of practice Chad Jones came onto the field and received a warm round of applause from his former (and perhaps future) teammates. Meanwhile the medical staff appeared to be taking a close look at and working on Watkins’ left eye.
Just to finish up with some roster moves: Rookie running back Martell Mallard was waived injured and Jones was waived/non-football injury.
The team has the day off tomorrow. Not just from practice, mind you, but an honest-to-goodness day off. Thanks to the new work rules in the CBA.
“You know what I said to the guys this morning?” Coughlin said at his presser. “You guys have been here for a tremendous number of days, like three, and you are going to have a day off. I don’t think it has ever been done in the history of football.”