I had to get some stories in for the newspaper, so this practice report is a little later than I would have liked it to be. Then again, if you are reading it first thing in the morning, it’s right on time!
Anyway, the Giants got their thud on tonight with their first full-pad practice. No big crushing hits, but there were a few good doinks that got some attention. Dave Tollefson seemed to be involved in a lot of the bigger hits today, whether it was tonight in fulls or this morning in just shoulder pads.
“Tom (Coughlin) loves getting on me, because I’m a little rough sometimes,” Tollefson said after practice. “I love contact. Anytime I can be part of a big hit, I love it.”
It was a good day to be a right defensive end. The Giants rotated three players in there and they all feasted on the offense. First up was Osi Umenyiora in 11-on-11 drills. He came in to sack Eli Manning untouched on his first snap and then made a nice play to stop a run right at him by Ahmad Bradshaw.
Next up was Umenyiora’s main competition for the spot, Mathias Kiwanuka. He matched Osi’s performance but in reverse order. First he stuffed a run (with a healthy pop on D.J. Ware on a shotgun draw) and then he had what would have been a sack of Manning.
Finally Tollefson jumped into the spot and he had a sack and stuffed a run by Ware. Somewhere in between this defensive showcase, offensive line coach Pat Flaherty had enough and gave left tackle Will Beatty a pretty solid chewing out.
Sticking with the defense for a minute, since they seemed to have more of an impact in this practice, I thought Bryan Kehl looked really sharp. He broke up a pass from Manning to Scott Chandler in 7-on-7 drills and also had great coverage on Ramses Barden, forcing Rhett Bomar to throw away a pass at the receiver’s feet. I was just jotting down a note that Kehl was playing well when he slipped in coverage of Kevin Boss and allowed a big pass play. But overall still Kehl’s best practice of camp.
Michael Boley made another athletic play, this time jumping up to knock away a pass intended for Duke Calhoun who was about 10 yards behind him. And those middle linebackers keep coming through the middle. Jonathan Goff had a nice stuff on one of the first full-contact snaps Phillip Dillard batted down a pass while blitzing Bomar. Even former middle linebackers had a good day as Chase Blackburn playing weakside took over the joystick from Keith Bulluck and made an adjustment that put the defense in a much better look.
Of course the top defensive play was the last one. The Giants were enjoying a feisty two-minute drill to end practice and facing a fourth-and-10 from the 38 with 11 seconds left on the clock Manning threw a pass intended for Boss that was picked off by Antrel Rolle. While the offense was jogging off the field to finish the workout with a stretch, Rolle took it upon himself to run all the way to the other end zone, finishing the play and the practice with a touchdown watusi.
“You just have to understand that they need 10 yards to get a first down,” Rolle said. “So I just pretty much sat at the sticks and waited for the tight end to break either way and I was able to make a good break on the ball.”
As for his dance: “It’s all about fun,” Rolle said. “You have to have fun when you’re playing such a great game.”
Offensively, the big play was a sideline go route by Derek Hagan in which he jumped over D.J. Johnson to make the catch. I thought it was pretty good coverage by Johnson, going step-for-step with Hagan. But Johnson never made a play on the ball and Hagan was able to come down with the grab. Hagan also made a nice catch in 7-on-7 drills, reaching out for a pass from Jim Sorgi in stride.
Special teams were also on display. Matt Dodge put on a show booming punts between 55 and 60 yards. The distance was fantastic. The problem was that a few of them were low line drives that would be easily returnable and only one very short one (that was either a shank or a poor attempt at directional kicking) landed outside the numbers.
Dodge also had trouble handling a high snap on the first PAT try of the practice, having Zak DeOssie’s serve sail past him. But he later managed to put down two holds on snaps that were low, so he’s coming along. As for the actual kicks, Tynes was good from 20 on the Pat and then 29, 31, 33, 35, 37 and 41 yards. He hasn’t missed a field goal attempt (besides the bad snap today) in training camp.
One practice tomorrow and it begins at 2:35. We’ll have player access before that, so check back in the early afternoon for updates. And if you plan on coming out tomorrow, remember that it is autograph night, which usually brings the biggest crowd of the summer. Practice will end around 4:30 if you want to be the guy who shows up just for the autographs and doesn’t care about watching practice.
Don’t be that guy.