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Practice Report: Easing into the swing of things

Giants quarterback Eli Manning stretches after physical evaluations

Giants quarterback Eli Manning stretches after physical evaluations on the opening day of training camp in Albany. (July 26, 2012) Credit: AP

OK, here’s the first of what will be (if Tom Coughlin has his way and the weather holds out) 14 training camp practice reports from Albany.

It didn’t look like either of those parentheticals would apply this morning when we woke up, but the rain clouds cleared and by the time the 1:30 p.m. workout rolled around it was pretty warm and muggy. The Giants practiced in the main stadium at the University at Albany because the lower grass fields were still a little wet. They could have worked on the artificial turf of the lacrosse stadium, but they prefer grass for obvious reasons.

Four guys did not practice at all: Hakeem Nicks (foot), Chris Canty (knee), Travis Beckum (knee) and Clint Sintim (knee). There was, however, a good sign when Nicks was doing some running (not quite full speed) on the side. Coughlin said he had just been doing that in the pool as recently as yesterday. Sintim also looked to be doing some running and was without a brace. His knee was in such bad shape after the injury last summer, though, that it could still be a while before we see him (if at all). Canty and Beckum were limited to some calisthenics and light drills but no running that I saw.

Other injury notes: Will Beatty, who missed the conditioning run on Thursday because of back issues, was on the field as the starting left tackle. “They didn’t have me run because they didn’t want the first thing I do be sprints and set it off,” he said at lunch before practice. “We start off practice slow anyway, we work our way into it, it’s only helmets, so it’s not full contact the first day. So I get to go out there and test it out, see what’s going on. Each day I talk to the doctors and trainers here, I tell them how I’m feeling and they tell me what they expect of me. Each day we’re taking it one day at a time.”

The one guy who didn’t make it through practice was Terrell Thomas. His back tightened on him. Perhaps that’s to be expected considering this is his first actual football work in almost a full year. Luckily it was not his twice-repaired knee that caused him to leave the field. He Tweeted after practice that he’ll be fine and there’s no reason to think otherwise right now.

OK, actual practice. As usual, we started with some special teams drills. Domenik Hixon, Randle Rueben and Jerrel Jernigan were returning live punts from Steve Weatherford against the scout cover team. After that, the team broke up into groups. One of the drills to watch there was the receivers working on their releases against the cornerbacks. Thomas was still participating at that point and was covering Hixon. As was noted, that’s four torn ACLs in one drill pairing. Thomas looked fine. Hixon has shown even less rust or issue with his knee so far.

Your starting offense: Beatty, Boothe, Baas, Snee, Diehl across the front, Cruz and Hixon at WR, Pascoe at TE, Bradshaw at RB, Hynoski at FB and Manning at QB.

Your starting defense: Pierre-Paul, Linval Joseph, Rocky Bernard and Justin Tuck across the front; Blackburn at MLB flanked by Kiwanuka and Boley; Webster and Michael Coe at CB; Rolle and Phillips at safety. Osi Umenyiora and Shaun Rogers rotated in with the first group.

Your second defense: Trattou, Hendricks, Marvin Austin and Adrian Tracy up front; Herzlich in the middle with Keith Rivers and Jacquian Williams outside; Justin Tryon and Bruce Johnson at corner; Tyler Sash and Stevie Brown at safety.

Your third defense: Craig Marshall, Markus Kuhn, Martin Parker and Matt Brouha up front; Jake Muasau in the middle with Greg Jones and Spencer Paysinger; Prince Amukamara and Antwaun Molden at corner; and Chris Horton and Jojo Nicolas at safety.

Just a quick note about that third unit: It’s amazing to think that a 11 months ago Greg Jones was a rookie starting at middle linebacker in the season opener and now he’s in his second training camp fighting for a job and playing a new position. Also worth noting that Amukamara, last year’s first round pick, was taking third-team reps even with Terrell Thomas sidelined. It’ll be a climb for him to reach his goal of competing for the starting job, but not impossible. In fact, if you keep reading, there’s a nugget later on about Amukamara making a play late in practice (we call that foreshadowing in the business).

Here are some highlights from the first series of 11-on-11 snaps: Bradshaw took a handoff on the first snap, then DJ Ware took the second. Those two worked with the first team … Eli completed his first pass of camp but threw it behind Victor Cruz. Cruz, however, reached back and made a nice catch, coming up shaking his head. The crowd appreciated it and gave a loud “Cruuuz!” cheer … Manning was 4-for-4 on the first series of 11 snaps, but his completion to Jerrel Jernigan would not have happened because Michael Boley was in position to sack him on a blitz … Tryon made a nice “tackle” coming up to stop a Bradshaw run … Ware broke off a run up the middle but it looked like Boothe held Blackburn to create the hole … With the second team, Da’Rel Scott dropped a pass from David Carr for the first incompletion of camp (let the record show) … Ramses Barden made a nice catch on a pass from Carr, snatching it away from rookie Jayron Hosley … Carr had to throw away his last snap because he was under pressure from Trattou and then was bumped into by tight end Larry Donnell who had been trying to block Trattou … David Wilson say his first snaps with the third unit and looked fast … Perrilloux completed a quick screen to Isaiah Stanback that was nearly batted down at the line by Marshall … Dan DePalma made a nice catch on a low pass from Perrilloux … Julian Talley took a handoff on an end-around … Wilson’s most impressive act of the day came when he reached up high and snagged a pass from Perrilloux that looked to be zipping over his head on a checkdown. Perrilloux, you’ll see as we go along, did not have an outstanding day.

The team then went to punt returns with machine punts. Jernigan, Randle and Hixon were joined by Hosley and Brandon Collins as the returners.

In 7-on-7s, Eli’s first incompletion of the year was a deep ball down the left sideline for Hixon against Coe … Manning also threw an incompletion to Cruz along the same sideline, but he found Bear Pascoe on the next snap … Spencer Paysinger nearly intercepted a pass from Perrilloux … Perrilloux ended the drill by doinking a checkdown pass to Wilson into the ground. It looked like the ball slipped from his hands.

Here are some highlights from the second series of 11-on-11 snaps: Osi Umenyiora jumped up and made a TFL against Bradshaw on the first play … Boley made a tackle at the line against Ware on the next snap … Boley registered the first interception of the camp when he dropped back in coverage and stepped between a pass from Manning to Cruz … Hixon nearly made a remarkable catch on a low pass from Manning but after juggling it while rolling on the ground it was knocked away … Jernigan took an end-around handoff … Brandon Collins made a nice catch from Carr in traffic … Tracy made a tackle against Da’Rel Scott … Prince Amukamara (remember we talked about him earlier?) came away with the second pick of camp when he was in deep coverage against Randle down the right sideline. David Carr threw the ball and Amukamara juggled it but managed to hold onto it as Randle turned into a defensive back and tried to break up the interception. Amukamara ultimately went out of bounds but the pick was good … Trattou had another would-be sack against Carr … Wilson tried to run up the middle but was stuffed by Kuhn and Parker … Perrilloux hit Randle on a deep slant with Dante Hughes trailing just a bit in coverage … Muasau had the third pick of camp when a Perrilloux pass was tipped in the air by receiver David Douglas and into the arms of the linebacker. It was reminiscent of one of Eli’s picks from 2010 … The last snap of the day belonged to Joe Martinek on a handoff behind right tackle.

Back again tomorrow.

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