This summer it seems the Giants have been about numbers. There was general manager Jerry Reese’s countdown to the Super Bowl clock. And more recently, today, head coach Tom Coughlin unveiled a number of his own. Nine.
What’s the significance of that number? Before today’s practice concluded, there were just nine training camp practices left.
Now everyone knows that Coughlin if he had it his way, the head coach would probably bubble wrap all of his players at the end of every day to keep them safe from injury so that he has all hands on deck for when it counts.
Unfortunately that’s not plausible, and as a result, there have been players who have missed a large chunk of training camp practices because of their injuries, some of those players being established veterans and some being rookies.
“It’s time for all these guys that have been in this other category to get moving ,” said Coughlin, vaguely referring to some of the injured players who are potentially close to returning. such as offensive lineman James Brewer and safety Cooper Taylor, just to name a few. “ I was telling the coaches and the players that as of this morning, we had nine practices left before the regular season. Can you imagine that? Nine practices.”
It was a solemn reminder that time is starting to run out. And as I said at the start of camp, the longer some of these players sit inactive, the less likely they will be able to contribute early in the season – if at all.
The Giants are holding their breath on the status of starting safety Antrel Rolle, who in a one-on-one drill against tight end Bear Pascoe, had his ankle stepped on by Pascoe. Rolle immediately fell to the ground and needed help to come off the field, though he tried to put some weight on it. He ultimately had to be carted off the field and was to undergo medical tests this evening.
As Coughlin said in his conference call with the media yesterday, defensive end Justin Tuck (back) and rookie offensive lineman Justin Pugh (concussion) returned to practice today. Also returning to practice was running back Ryan Torain (concussion).
Still out were OL James Brewer (concussion) and safety Cooper Taylor (hamstring), who were joined by offensive lineman Chris DeGeare (knee), defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder contusion) and cornerback Corey Webster (soreness). Moore and Webster are day-to-day, per Coughlin.
I suspected that there might be tweaks to the practice lineups based on the showings made by the players in the preseason opener against Pittsburgh, and I was correct.
At middle linebacker, Dan Conner, who played well on Saturday night, saw more snaps with the starters than he had in prior practices, rotating with Mark Herzlich, who is also still getting snaps with the starters.
Ryan Mundy stepped in for Rolle at safety with the first team. And while on the topic of safety, Aaron Ross got a few snaps at safety in the goal line package.
Cullen Jenkins continued to get snaps at Justin Tuck’s defensive end spot with the starters. Jacquian Williams was given some snaps with the starting linebackers. And Justin Pugh worked exclusively with the two’s and three’s at left tackle.
Offensive lineman Chris Snee, who didn’t do much work last week after being activated off PUP, was back with the first team offensive line taking snaps. Also, cornerback Terrell Thomas, who was limited to individual drills last week, took some reps in the team part of practice. “Hopefully he’ll get some confidence, and take some more (snaps),” Coughlin said of Thomas.
Receiver Kris Adams, who suffered a broken ankle against Pittsburgh on Saturday night for which he’s since had surgery, was waived/injured, as the Giants are no doubt hoping to add him to their injured reserve list. New York signed Receiver Marcus Harris to fill Adam’s roster spot.
* In the first batch of 11-on-11s, linebacker Mark Herzlich, working with the second team, looked to be a split second too late disengaging from a block in which Da’Rel Scott whizzed right by him for a nice gain. Later in the practice with the second team, Herzlich was stopped by center Jim Cordle.
* Defensive end Justin Trattou has flashed a bit this camp, but today he was no match for Justin Pugh, who was working at left tackle. Pugh matched quickness with quickness in successfully neutralizing Trattou’s quick first steps. Pugh’s technique was in fact text-book on this one pickup as he set his feet and squared up against Trattou nicely, getting his hands inside the shoulders from what I could tell. Nope, not much rust there on Pugh at all.
* Defensive end Adewale Ojomo beat left tackle Selvish Capers into the backfield with what looked like a swim move. The running play went in the opposite direction, but it was a solid effort by Ojomo, who in the first few days of camp has been invisible.
* Safety Junior Mertile has made a few plays this camp and he did a nice job getting over to break up a deep pass intended for receiver Julian Talley. Mertile went for the jump ball and when he realized he wasn’t in position to get it, he swatted it away from the receiver. Later on, he broke up a pass intended for receiver Keith Carlos in the end zone.
* Fullback Ryan D’Imperio looked like he was unsuccessful disengaging from the man he was blocking and get out into his pattern. The ball wasn’t thrown his way, but by not getting out into his pattern, it looked like he became a nonfactor on that play. Speaking of D’Imperio, on an ‘iso’ block, he looked like he lowered his head as he approached the defender. If he’s going to survive in the NFL, he’ll need to start using his shoulder. And on the final 11-on-11, D’Imperio did a better job of getting lower when he sprung Michael Cox to the outside, but he looked like he lunged a bit too far as he was bent backwards by the linebacker trying to fill the hole.
* Tight end Brandon Myers tried to block defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, but to no avail, as Myers failed to get his hands under Kiwanuka’s pads, lift him and move him out of the way.
* Linebacker Spencer Paysinger surprised left tackle Will Beatty on a blitz, beating the offensive lineman around the edge and forcing a hurried pass.
* Defensive lineman Frank Okam got the better of his one-on-one matchup with offensive lineman Michael Jasper, who seemed to be caught off guard by Okam’s swim move.
* Linebacker Dan Connor, working with the two’s – he alternated with Herzlich between the ones and twos – beat Matt McCants, who was lined up at guard, to force a quarterback hurry. In seven-on-seven drills later in the practice, David Wilson managed to beat Connor in coverage with a quick move to the inside.
* It wasn’t pretty, but running back Michael Cox found a way to pick up a blitzing Kyle Bosworth, which allowed a deep pass to be completed down the field to receiver Ramses Barden, who made a one-handed grab in traffic.
* Defensive tackle Mike Patterson proven to be a little too much for Matt McCants to handle, so soon he was receiving help to get Patterson blocked. On that first matchup though, David Carr still managed to find tight end Adrien Robinson along the sideline, and as he has done most of the summer, Robinson used his big body to shield the ball from the linebacker (Mark Herzlich in this instance) and come down with the reception.
* Receiver Rueben Randle managed to come up with the ball despite having cornerback Terrence Frederick literally on his hip. On a pass thrown over the middle.
* Tight end Larry Donnell teamed with Justin Pugh to get defensive end Matt Broha blocked. On that play, it looked like Pugh didn’t get himself set for Broha’s charge, so credit Donnell for recognizing it and coming back to help inside.
* Cornerback Trumaine McBride was all over receiver Ramses Barden in breaking up a deep pass. What was a bit disheartening is that it didn’t look like Barden fought for the ball nearly as much as the 5-9 Trumaine did. Neither one came up with it as it fell incomplete.
* Tight end Jamie Childers showed some fight against linebacker Etienne Sabino on a running play that went in the opposite direction.
* Receiver Keith Carlos did a nice job to get in position in the end zone to catch a deep pass despite having safety Alonzo Tweedy and cornerback Charles James close in coverage. However, Carlos let the ball fall through his hands.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
You want to know how you know a rookie is really going to be something very special in this league?
You listen to him talk.
Yes, talk is cheap, play the game. And yes, talent has a lot to do with it, but the reason I say you listen to a rookie talk is because you can pretty much determine by the words he uses if he’s grounded or if he has a false impression of himself.
And it’s usually those players who have a false impression of themselves who, although having enough talent to be successful, really don’t go very far in the NFL.
Take rookie defensive end Damontre Moore, nicknamed “DaMonsta” for his scary good play so far as a member of the Giant. Here’s a kid who had a very impressive rookie début on Saturday in the Giants’ preseason opener, a début that included a blocked punt, a tackle for a loss, five tackles and a bunch of other plays that he barely missed making himself but because of his efforts helped other teammates make.
So what did Moore have to say for himself when he met with reporters to discuss his big night and the progress he’s made in camp so far?
“Watching film, there were a lot of plays where I was close,” he said. “I think that’s what’s motivating me more — to get there to make the plays. It is a bit aggravating to know that I was that close and didn’t make the plays.”
The 20-year old Moore, who has repeatedly said that he needs to get better, said that he adapted nicely to the speed of the pro level game because the tempo was very similar to what he became accustomed to in college.
“We ran a fast-paced offense in college and that’s the tempo that we practice at so it wasn’t too big of a change in the speed.”
Moore also doesn’t consider himself to be anywhere near a finished product, noting that he has a list of areas he wants to address in his game after watching himself on film.
“I probably say containing the edge and not being so one-track minded, and really focusing on my assignments,” he said of his personal agenda for improvement. “I probably say honing in and being more focused on my assignment and not just moving at the ball.”
And then there is a matter of him wanting to top his breakout showing last week, a goal for which he has a rather mature focus and plan in place.
“(The blocked punt) gave me a lot of confidence to let me know that I can come out here and I can make plays,” he said. “At the same time it gave me more motivation because I don’t want to feel that experience just once. I want to feel it multiple times. To see that I helped put my team in a great situation — it wasn’t a better feeling to have. So I’m trying to use that as motivation to keep making it happen.”
Moore’s maturity hasn’t been lost on his head coach. “This is where you see it the most,” Coughlin said. “Right here on the field. He obviously enjoys playing and he plays hard, which is a tribute to him and his coaches. Some of the mental errors that happened we have to eliminate, but he’s worked hard.”
“There were a few more mental errors than I had really expected, even though I know schematically they’re moving around, they’re blitzing, and they certainly did an excessive amount of that. I thought that we would handle it more consistently than we did.” – Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride on the job done by the offense in Saturday’s preseason opener against the Steelers.
The Giants will practice on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday of this week, leading up to their second preseason game, and preseason home opener on Sunday night when they host the Colts. All training camp practices this week are scheduled to be open to the public, weather permitting, of course, and will begin at 1:30 p.m.
If you are planning to come to camp, please call the fan information hotline at 201-935-9385 if the weather looks iffy.