Practice report: Tuck out, Wilson catches on, Collins' grab in dispute
No fights on the field today. Unless you count the one between me and Paul Dottino. And even that was more of a disagreement.
Here’s what happened. Late in practice the Giants were running 11-on-11 plays from the goal line (they were in shells, so it wasn’t full contact). Ryan Nassib threw a pass in the back of the end zone for Brandon Collins, who jumped up in the air and caught the ball. He also came down with both feet in bounds. Touchdown, right? But I contend that Collins’ hand with the football actually touched out of bounds before the back end of his body hit the turf, just like the touchdown that was overturned in Dallas last year when Dez Bryant’s hand was out of bounds. Dottino swears it was a touchdown. In fact he took a poll of four others who were right there to see the play and three of them called it a touchdown. Only one other person thought it would have been out of bounds.
I tried to throw a challenge flag at P-Dotty, but he threw a yellow one right back at me. It’s illegal to ask for a coach’s challenge on a scoring play that is automatically reviewed anyway. This year, though, at least I would have had the satisfaction of having the play overturned.
Anyway, that was just one of the interesting plays in training camp today. We’ll get to a few others later that include some impressive catches by the running backs, a strange throw by a wide receiver, and another interception off Nassib.
But first, the injury report. The most glaring one today was the lack of Justin Tuck on the field. Tom Coughlin said afterwards that Tuck was experiencing a “tight back” and remained inside during the workout. It was just precautionary, Coughlin said, and he didn’t even rule Tuck out for Saturday’s preseason game in Pittsburgh. Others not practicing were James Brewer (concussion), Cooper Taylor (hamstring), Ryan Torain (presumed concussion) and Justin Pugh (concussion). Coughlin said that Pugh is feeling better – he was out and about again today – and the hope is that he’ll be cleared over the weekend to be able to rejoin the team when they get back from the preseason opener. Coughlin also said the doctors are optimistic that Taylor’s injury is not very serious.
For those who were able to go, Hakeem Nicks and Corey Webster were both limited although they took team reps. Terrell Thomas and Chris Snee were in their pads and did individuals but nothing in team. Larry Donnell, who rolled his ankle yesterday, seemed to be a full participant.
Practice opened with one-on-one drills between receivers and defenders from the goal line, and it was fun to watch. Prince Amukamara started the drill by poking a ball away from Cruz … Eli Manning overthrew his next two targets, Brandon Myers and Hakeem Nicks. Then Trumaine McBride broke up a pass for Louis Murphy and Manning was 0-for-4 … Adrien Robinson did a nice job of muscling away from Ryan Mundy to catch a TD from Curtis Painter … Ramses Barden may have been called for pushing off against Jayron Hosley, but he caught the ball … Chase Clenet dropped a pass from Nassib … Kevin Hardy caught a fade pass from Manning over Laron Scott … Terrence Frederick tried to reach around Kris Adams to poke the ball away but Adams held on for the touchdown … Prince did a nice job tying up Murphy on a quick slant … Ross had Nicks covered well on an incompletion ... Bear Pascoe had a good double to get open move but couldn’t catch the ball.
It was basically the same offensive line that we’ve been seeing in 11-on-11s, with Brandon Mosley playing right guard in place of James Brewer who was playing it in place of Chris Snee who is now off PUP. As far as the defense went without Tuck, they just moved Cullen Jenkins to end opposite Mathias Kiwanuka (as they’ve been doing more than once in a while anyway) and had Linval Joseph and Shaun Rogers in the middle. Other than that it was the usual first unit (although the few snaps Webster was limited for he was replaced either by Ross or Hosley depending on the package).
As far as the plays, Adrien Robinson was wide open for an early pass from Eli Manning … A pass from Manning went through the hands of Rueben Randle as he came back towards the line of scrimmage with Aaron Ross covering him … Adrian Tracy beat Ryan D-Imperio and would have had a clean shot at David Carr … Michael Cox broke a run through the right side behind an absolute bulldozer of a block from Eric Herman that looked like it sealed off about three defenders … Stevie Brown beat Brandon Myers on an outside blitz but Manning was already rolling away from the pressure and able to complete a pass to Cruz … David Wilson flashed a spin move going through the hole at the line of scrimmage … David Diehl stood Mathias Kiwanuka upright to allow Manning time to find Cruz … Michael Cox did a really nice job picking up Adrian Tracy in pass protection while David Carr hit Adrien Robinson … Hosley was at the line of scrimmage to stop a run by Cox … Nassib threw a ball over the leaping Laron Scott that was caught by Julian Talley along the left sideline.
In kickoff returns, the Giants seem to be going with a formation that has a grouping of Mark Herzlich, Adrien Robinson, Damontre Moore and Johnathan Hankins at the point of attack. Fear for anyone who gets in the way of a charging Hankins. The Giants like to have players like that on KO return. Remember last year they had Marvin Austin in that spot in the preseason. Hey, whatever happened to him?
Anyway, Wilson, Cox and Hardy handled the kickoff returns in practice. On the last one Josh Brown squibbed it and Rueben Randle, the lead blocker, fielded it and then turned and threw it back about 15 yards to Wilson. Wilson caught it and began darting and juking and spinning around the field as he is apt to do.
On to 7-on-7s, where I saw for the first time this training camp a glimpse of what Eli Manning and Hakeem Nicks can do. On the first snap Manning took the shotgun snap and threw an outside pass to Nicks. But Nicks had not even made his break yet. When he did cut and turn over his left shoulder the football was there waiting for him and not even tight coverage by Prince Amukamara could break up the pass. We always talk about players not being on the same page. On this play, Nicks and Manning weren’t only on the same page, they were in the same sentence.
Other 7-on-7 plays: Cruz was a lot more open than he probably should have been between coverage of Corey Webster and Antrel Rolle for a completion … David Wilson made the first of his two impressive catches (not counting the gimmicky one from Randle on KOR) when he was able to squeeze the pass from Manning despite Jacquian Williams reaching in and trying to dislodge it. A few plays later Carr threw to Wilson on the left side and although the ball was a little behind him Wilson was able to reach back and grab it with soft hands. If the Giants can use that aspect of Wilson’s game to get him the ball in the open field, look out! … Frederick broke up a pass from Painter to Adams … Talley did a nice job catching a high sideline pass from Nassib, but he only got one foot down in bounds (I didn’t need to consult with Dottino on that one) … Donnell looked good slipping behind Charles James and catching a deep ball. It looked like David Caldwell should have been the deep help at safety … Junior Mertile had another interception, this time grabbing a pass from Nassib that was intended for Brandon Collins. Adrien Robinson was offsides on the play, to add insult to injury.
Back to 11-on-11s. Murphy hasn’t had many highlights in camp, but he did a nice job of driving Prince Amukamara off the line of scrimmage before coming back on a curl route for a completion from Manning. It was a case of Murphy’s speed being respected by a defense to the point that things opened up underneath … Mathias Kiwanuka gave Bear Pascoe a thunderous punch on a pass rush, but couldn’t get to the QB to disrupt a Manning pass to Cruz … Manning’s deep ball for Murphy at the post was broken up by the combination of Tyler Sash and Terrence Frederick as all three players leaped for the ball. The more interesting part of the play, though, was when Damontre Moore tried to make a pass-rushing move on David Diehl and looked like he would beat him, but the veteran stopped him cold in his tracks and stuffed him. Diehl has been playing well, backing up his bravado about not wanting to lose his job … Moore had more of an advantage a few plays later when he beat Stephen Goodin on a run by Cox … Adrian Tracy was there in the backfield after a play-action fake and Carr completed a pass to Jerrel Jernigan …Cox ran up the middle but Moore was trying to rake the ball from his grip and wound up spinning the running back to the ground. He nearly threw Cox into the knees of Jacquian Williams, which would have been bad … Andre Brown made a nice one-handed catch on a screen pass from Painter and Jim Cordle hustled down the field to be the lead blocker … Da’rel Scott showed some patience waiting for a hole to open up on a run to the left side.
We go now to 11-on-11s from the goal line, the series that included the Collins play of dispute. But that was later in the series. First, Manning threw a fade to Cruz over Webster and although Cruz caught the ball Webster had position and didn’t allow him to come down in bounds … Wilson gave Keith Rivers a surprising pop on a run over the right side … Aaron Curry was in the backfield to mangle a run by Cox … Painter took a shotgun snap to his facemask as he wasn’t expecting the ball to be delivered from Cordle. On the next snap, though, he hit Adams on a slant for a touchdown with Frederick in coverage.
Practice ended with a two-minute drill (1:16 actually) and unlike the last time the Giants tried it this one lasted more than one play. Manning threw high and incomplete to Cruz but then hit Cruz and Randle for back-to-back completions that put them just outside of field goal range. After spiking the ball and throwing the ball away out of the back of the end zone (:30 remaining), Manning hit Randle on the right side. The Giants offense hurried to the line and then waited for the clock to hit :04 before spiking the ball and calling out the field goal unit for a chip shot game-winner.
Only they didn’t call Josh Brown today. Instead, they called … BANDS!