So just like that, Training Camp 2013 is soon coming to a close, with the Giants having just three more practices left before they close things down to the public and finish out their preseason.
So I got to thinking about the injured players today, those guys still on PUP and those who started to work but who have been missing huge chunks of practice time like rookie Cooper Taylor, who’s nursing a balky hamstring, offensive lineman James Brewer, who was just back today after sitting out several days due to a concussion, and others.
And so my being curious, I asked head coach Tom Coughlin about the injured guys in general, how long he thought it might take for them to get caught up despite not being able to practice.
“If they’re smart, what they do is by position, they’re listening to the corrections and trying to visualize themselves in that position being corrected,” Coughlin said. “If they’re very attentive and alert and understand the circumstances that they’re in, then they really don’t lose any of the mental time; it’s the field time that they lose, and hopefully as soon as they come back, they catch up. It might be a day, or might be two days; it depends.”
But the problem is those days where these guys can get caught up are dwindling down, and guys who the team might have looked toward to make a contribution early on will probably not be able to get caught up as quickly as the head coach would like, which would be a shame considering the talent they bring to the table, especially the younger guys.
But that’s why teams stock up their depth.
“Injuries are going to happen in this league,” said safety Antrel Rolle, who is one of the injured players. “We have guys that are willing to step in and fill their roles. That’s what it’s about and that’s what our team is about. We all compete, but at the same time we’re all each other’s backbone. If one guy goes down, the next has to fill in and we’re not expected to be missing a beat.”
But if only it were that simple. There’s a reason guys are starters and others are backups. So it will be interesting to see which of the Giants starters isn’t ready when it all starts to count and if the backups can deliver the same quality.
Sitting out today’s practice were safety Antrel Rolle (ankle); safety Cooper Taylor (hamstring); offensive lineman Chris DeGeare (ankle); defensive end Damontre Moore (shoulder contusion); receiver Brandon Collins (hamstring); running back Da’Rel Scott (shoulder); and receiver Jerrel Jernigan (soreness). They join the three PUP guys, defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (knee), fullback Henry Hynoski (knee), and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (back).
Offensive lineman James Brewer (concussion) and cornerback Corey Webster (groin) were back at practice
I guess offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride wasn’t kidding when he said the other day that there is a tight battle for the number two quarterback job between David Carr and Curtis Painter. Maybe I just happened to notice it more today than before, but it seemed like the reps with the second team offense between the two men were very nearly split, and this could very well be a battle that goes down to the wire.
Just how close of a call is it right now for Carr, who’s been the backup to Eli Manning in four of the last five seasons?
“First of all, I think he had an excellent spring,” said Coughlin. “I think the thing everyone has to understand is that you have to take advantage of your snaps because we’re using four quarterbacks every day. Certainly he’s trying to grasp everything and be in the right place at the right time with the ball, so he’s trying to get better as is everyone out there.”
Meanwhile, cornerback Terrell Thomas was given a little more work today in team drills at both nickel and corner, and Coughlin said that the veteran, who is trying to work his way back from a third ACL injury, seems to be doing well. “He’s gaining more confidence and is feeling better about himself. I think he’s doing better.”
Chris Snee continues to work with the starters at right guard, but they also continue to sprinkle in a bit of Brandon Mosley in at that spot. On defense, Mark Herzlich and Dan Connor continue to share reps with the first team at middle linebacker.
* How much more confident is Prince Amukamara these days? When he doesn’t come up with a play, he becomes quite animated. Take for instance a play in 11-on-11s when Hakeem Nicks beat him. Even though Amukamara had good coverage on the receiver and would have limited the yards after a catch, Amukamara was still annoyed with himself for not knocking the ball away. Against the run, Amukamara did a nice job in shedding his man to make the stop against Ryan Torain.
* Kevin Boothe looked very fluid in pulling and knocking Mark Herzlich out of a hole to help spring André Brown for a nice gain around the edge. Herzlich continued to alternate with Dan Connor with the first team defense.
* Ramses Barden tried to block linebacker Jacquian Williams, but Barden didn’t bother to bend his knees and get low. As a result, Williams went underneath him and probably would have made the play if the ball had come in his direction.
* Trumaine McBride was all over Louis Murphy in what would have been blatant pass interference – McBride never bothered to look back for the ball. Murphy, however, somehow found a way to get away from McBride, who was left sucking wind at the end of the play.
* Tight end Chase Clement very nearly made the catch of the day on a one-handed attempt of a ball thrown in front of him; however, he just couldn’t quite reel it in.
* Cornerback Terrell Thomas is certainly putting his recovering knee to the test. Working from the slot, he barely missed stopping receiver Victor Cruz on a quick slant for a touchdown. And I mean barely. Thomas was so upset with himself for missing the play that he let out a loud yell of frustration. Later in the practice, Eli Manning completed a pass to Rueben Randle right in front of Thomas
* Not to be outdone by the razzle-dazzle the defense did yesterday with mixingup personnel, the Giants offense tried a little trickery of their own today as David Wilson ran the halfback option and threw a underthrown ball down the field to Victor Cruz. The pass likely won’t be appearing on any coaches’ teaching tapes any time soon, but it yielded the desired results, so that’s a good thing.
* Linebacker Kyle Bosworth, who could be one of those fringe players, is certainly making a strong case for a roster spot with his special teams play. Bosworth has been on everything and he’s been playing like a man possessed, making things happen. The Giants usually put aside a few roster spots for guys who are special teams aces, and if Bosworth continues in this regard, he could very well end up with a roster spot.
* Bear Pascoe, working from the fullback spot didn’t get the best of angles against linebacker Spencer Paysinger, who slowed up after it was clear the play was going in the other direction.
* Jacquian Williams did a nice job of shedding aside an offensive blocker to knock away a pass intended from Hakeem Nicks.
* Defensive back Laron Scott picked off a pass intended for Louis Murphy deep down the sidelines thrown by Carr. And speaking of Carr, he has looked a little erratic of late with his reads and some of his decisions.
* In the red zone work, Aaron Ross did a nice job of breaking up an Eli Manning pass intended for Victor Cruz. Ross read the play extremely well.
* David Carr did well to get rid of the ball when he spotted safety David Caldwell coming in on a safety blitz, but it looked like Carr had an open receiver in the flat that he didn’t even spot.
* Eric Herman missed his man on a Michael Cox run inside of the 20, the play not getting very far.
* Justin Pugh, working with both the ones at right tackle and twos at left tackle, had some trouble handling Adewale Ojomo’s rush.
* Adrien Robinson did a nice job of handling Keith Rivers but might have released just a split second too late as the pass intended for him (thrown by Carr) was overthrown.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
There’s a reason why sports teams practice. The idea is to work on technique, run through the game plan and work out any kinks in the operation so that when it comes time to put on the show and the results count, the mistakes have been eliminated to give the team the best chance possible at success.
So I don’t quite understand why some players who are working their way back from injury can sit there and say with a straight face that they are not too concerned about not practicing in camp or the preseason because of their prior knowledge of the playbook.
I understand that there is a difference between a veteran who’s been in the system a few years and a guy who’s struggling to make the roster. And I understand that one can take mental reps and make the most of them.
So the issue I have is with leadership. To be clear, if a guy isn’t physically able to practice, that’s one thing. But to downplay the importance of practice by suggesting that your knowledge of the offense or defense is enough to help you do your job falls short in one very critical area.
Let’s look at safety Antrel Rolle, currently sidelined by an ankle injury, who since becoming a Giant has never missed a game.
Rolle is a guy who clearly knows what he’s doing. But just because he knows what he’s doing doesn’t mean that he welcomes the chance to rest his body for a few days while he’s sidelined by an ankle injury.
“I don’t like missing practices,” Rolle said today. “I do everything I can to get back in shape and get back to form, and get back out there with my guys.”
That’s a leader talking. Rolle is a guy who could probably sit the entire summer and still not miss a beat. But that’s not who he is. He recognizes the importance of practicing, of setting an example out of the field and to that end, he was out there today, minus his walking boot, his ailing ankle heavily taped, coaching up his teammates.
Rolle has nothing to worry about – his job will be there for him when he’s healthy.
If I’m a coach and I see what Rolle said about wanting to practice, I can’t help smile in knowing that I have a guy on my team who’s not only leading in the classroom and in the locker room, but on the field even if he can’t be on the field working.
“Boots are for wimps.” – Giants safety Antrel Rolle, who after sporting a walking boot on his right ankle was without it today as he declared he felt “a million times better” after suffering a significant ankle sprain during Monday’s practice.
The Giants are off tomorrow, but will hold a practice on Friday at 1:30 which I believe will be a “cards’ (scripted) practice. On Sunday night, they’ll host the Colts in a nationally televised game airing on FOX. Kickoff is at 7:00 PM.