We’re exactly one week away from the Giants first preseason game, and while the preseason games don’t count toward playoff seeding, it’s still a very critical time for head coaches around the NFL to get a closer look at what they have on their team.
For the New York Giants, the preseason schedule, which kicks off next Sunday night in Canton against the Buffalo Bills, will give head coach Tom Coughlin and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo a live look at the team’s new offense, which remains a work in progress.
“Two steps forward, one back. That’s where you are,” Coughlin said of the offense’s progress. “We have some time so we’re going to take full advantage of those opportunities. The more we can stay together, stay healthy and keep working, the progress will come. It will be small gains but it will come.”
We can only hope he’s right and that McAdoo, who’s never before called an offensive play at any level, can hold his own against the more experienced defensive coordinators in the league.
No change in the status of rookie receiver Odell Beckham’s status. For those keeping score at home, Beckham has now missed four of the Giants’ 16 scheduled practices –not good for a rookie who has a chance to become a big part of the offense.
Receiver Trindon Holliday tweaked his right leg during a punt return drill today and came out of the team drills. Also, not good news for rookie Xavier Grimble, who’s trying to earn a roster spot. Grimble has a minor hamstring issue, according to head coach Tom Coughlin.
“That (the kicking competition) is personal. But that’s not his fault that he’s here. He’s good and they chose to bring him in.” – Kicker Josh Brown on rookie Brandon McManus, who’s challenging Brown for his roster spot.
–It wouldn’t be a practice without a dropped pass from receiver Trindon Holliday. I think he’s had at least one drop in every practice so far—not a good thing when you’re trying to make the team as a fifth receiver.
–I’m not sure exactly how long or deep quarterback Ryan Nassib’s learning curve is, but he continues to be frustrating with some of his decisions and plays (or lack of plays as is sometimes the case).
First there was an early practice fumble on a handoff to David Wilson, a fumble that looked to be Nassib’s doing. This blunder happened despite the absence of a defense in front of them.
A few plays later, Nassib, on the move, missed Julian Talley, who was wide open, on a comeback route. Nassib launched the ball while he was in the air, trying to twist his body around. On that play, Nassib had time to set his feet and make the throw, but he rushed it.
In seven-on-sevens, Nassib, on a throw to Marcus Harris, spun himself around only to miss the receiver. This, mind you, without a pass rush in his face. He later threw off the wrong leg in a seven-on-seven drill, again with no pass rush in front of him.
The one nice play I saw was a toss to tight end Daniel Fells, who was covered by linebacker Devon Kennard. However, these ice plays are coming few and far between, at least in this first week of practice.
–Speaking of Wilson, it was a tad disturbing to see him on one play had to be told several times by the quarterback where to line up. Yes, Wilson didn’t practice all spring, but he was presumably in the meetings and in the classroom. He’s supposedly part of the group text messaging between the running backs. Maybe he’s one of those who learns by doing things and not watching, but then again, you can’t execute unless you know what to do. And the way you learn what to do is in the classroom.
–On the flip side, Wilson’s neck continues to hold up in contact drills. He took a handoff and it looked like Devon Kennard and Cullen Jenkins both laid a licking on him. Wilson came out of that collision no worse for the wear and held on the ball to boot.
–The Giants ran a pass play with Jerrel Jernigan lined up outside and it wasn’t pretty at all. Jernigan, who was covered by cornerback Charles James, couldn’t disengage or separate. Give James credit for playing strong coverage, but Jernigan seemed to have no answer to counter the jam James threw at him in the first few yards.
—Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie showed up on the field goal block team. It will be interesting to see if he stays there or if he was just filling in for Grimble.
–Good job by linebacker Dan Fox to break up a Curtis Painter pass intended for receiver Julian Talley. I made sure to watch Fox as much as I could today and what I saw was a player who is patient, who keeps his eye on what’s in front of him and who is also very instinctive.
–We hadn’t seen much from the fullbacks so far, but with the pads on, it was time to do some hitting, and boy, did Henry Hynoski truck a few people. He blasted into Devon Kennard, standing him up. He also walloped Dan Fox on a running play. Hynoski ran mostly with the one’s today.
Maybe Hynoski caught wind of this excellent get by Conor Orr of The Star-Ledger in which the Giants are reportedly toying with the idea of not carrying a fullback on the roster, and he wanted to back up his impassioned plea made to Jordan Raanan of NJ.com about the importance of keeping a fullback.
Whatever the case, Hynoski’s showing today helped ease some concerns I had about his shoulder and his knee, looking like “Hank the Tank” circa 2012.
–Not to be undone, John Conner trucked a few people as well, most notably Justin Anderson, who looked like he didn’t know what hit him. I asked head coach Tom Coughlin about the fullback competition, only to be met with a generic response.
“They’re both physical and they’ll move you out of the hole,” he said. “They both had some carries the other day and did well with it, so I think we’ll be okay there.”
–We saw a couple of different defensive fronts today, one which had Cullen Jenkins and Devon Kennard at the ends. Kennard actually lined up at either side on two successive plays. Perry Fewell has been experimenting with different defensive front looks, so this was not unexpected.
–During the media hour, kicker Josh Brown seemed visibly bothered when peppered with questions regarding his competition with Brandon McManus. It didn’t help that Brown went three of four on his field goal attempts today, missing his last one which looked to be about 47 yards.
–Receiver Preston Parker received some reps with the second team and looked good until he dropped a pass that was right in his hands.
–In a one-on-one drill against a defensive back, receiver Marcus Harris failed to turn the right way to haul in a pass thrown to his outside shoulder. That drew some immediate instruction from McAdoo, who was staring down the drills.
–Cornerback Charles James II might not have a place on special teams as a punt returner, but he has looked pretty good lining up as a punt gunner. James is a guy you can’t help but root for given his story and it’s nice to see that he’s getting an opportunity to make this roster in other ways.
–Cornerback Jayron Hosley was nailed twice for pass interference by the officials at today’s practice, both legitimate calls as Hosley didn’t turn around to find the ball. That’s not a good thing for a guy who has a slight hold on a roster spot to begin with, never mind the upcoming four-game suspension. Interestingly, after practice, Hosley was one of about three players who headed into the field house for additional work (presumably).
–This is purely an estimate on my part, but I think there has definitely been an increase in coverage sacks in this camp. I counted five times in todays’ practice where the quarterback had not where to go with the ball and would have been sacked had there been a live pass rush.
–Running back Michael Cox took a poor angle against Trumaine McBride, who was coming in on a corner blitz.
–I’m not sure if linebacker Mark Herzlich was supposed to tap and then release tight end Adrien Robinson—I’m thinking he could have jammed the tight end a little more forcibly but didn’t. Also, on the previous play, Herzlich was slow to react to a play in coverage, making the stop several yards down the field.
–You’re not going to win every single battle, but there are times when it looks as though Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie plays a little too fast and loose in coverage. I’m not sure what goes into his thinking, why on some plays he is right there on the receiver’s face while on others he plays so far off, but usually when he plays so far off, it doesn’t always end well.
–Defensive end Damontre Moore is starting to draw a lot of holds from offensive tackles. Today it was Troy Kropog who couldn’t handle “Damonsta,” who, by the way, has had a solid camp so far.
THE FINAL WORD
How cool was it to have the players back in pads today? This is how football is supposed to be, folks. Sure, the players have to be smart, as was noted in this article, but still, after watching several practices with the players in shorts and shells, this is yet another sign that real football is fast approaching.