A few notes from the first practice:
The loudest voice on the field belonged to Perry Fewell. The new defensive coordinator has an in-your-face attitude that will certainly be a shock to anyone who was comfortable with the Bill Sheridan way of doing things. Sheridan used to stand off to the side and watch during these camps, a silent observer. Some might say a totem pole. But Fewell was clearly running the defense. He let his coaches coach, but he was in charge from yelling at players who were not hustling to lauding them for strong efforts. “He’s got energy, he’s got enthusiasm,” Tom Coughlin said. “He’s a good teacher. No question about where he’s coming from. You’ll hear more of him.” The only concern might be whether that kind of thing will wear off after a while. We’ll have to wait and see.
Matt Dodge is the early front-runner in the battle to replace Jeff Feagles thanks to his booming punts. He launched a few of them today, some of them probably a little too line-drivey to be effective, but he’s certainly got the leg. He’s a stronger kicker than Jy Bond, the Australian rules import. But don’t count Bond out, especially not give the Giants’ affinity for Feagles-like directional kicking. In Australian rules, players have to kick in all directions and hit teammates with the ball. Bond’s precision might trump Dodge’s distance.
Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants’ first-round draft pick, didn’t have the sharpest practice. He was caught dogging it on the first drill of the practice, a sprint to the end zone, and called out on it by Fewell. He was also tied up by tight ends at the line of scrimmage on some plays. And even early in practice he was standing around with his hands clasped behind his head as if he was gulping for air. Now, he’s not playing in pads yet so it’s hard to tell exactly what he’s capable of. These camps are designed for QBs, WRs and DBs to shine, not linemen. “He’s hungry to learn,” Coughlin said of Pierre-Paul. “That’s the most important part of it all.”
Speaking of the camp being designed for WRs to shine, Tim Brown, a receiver from Rutgers, caught the eye of Coughlin. “He was quick off the ball and he made some nice catches,” Coughlin said. “He adjusted well and went low and picked the ball out of the air. He was able to maneuver his body past the defenders when he was headed out on a deep route. He knows what he’s doing out there and he has some nice speed.”
Victor Cruz was shaken up on one play, a deep pass in which he appeared to go head-first into the midsection (yes, that’s a euphemism) of safety Chad Jones. Both players were slow getting up but returned to the field.
Coughlin said that middle linebacker Phillip Dillard was “noticeable.” He meant it in a good way. Dillard said it was easy making the calls and checks on defense and running the huddle, even though he’s known the guys he’s playing with for all of a few hours.
Seth Williams made two interceptions at cornerback. Duke Calhoun and Lance Leggett both made nice catches too.
Linval Joseph ended the practice by scooping up a fumble and running with it.
I said "hi" to Anthony Cotrone, the old QB from Holy Trinity who I used to cover when I was patrolling the CHSAA sidelines. He's here trying out as a fullback. He was an undrafted free agent two years ago with the Jags. I'll have more on him tomorrow.
PHOTOS: Giants rookie minicamp