The Day at Camp: July 30, 2012
The one goal every NFL team hopes to accomplish in training camp is to get out with as few injuries as possible.
Unfortunately for the Giants, cornerback Terrell Thomas, who is trying to come back from a torn ACL suffered last August, was nowhere to be seen and was later revealed by head coach tom Coughlin to be in Manhattan at the Hospital for Special Surgery undergoing tests on his surgically repaired knee, which he appeared to tweak during yesterday’s practice while covering Domenik Hixon.
Coughlin revealed that Thomas had some swelling in the joint and sounded concern when answering questions about it. Thomas had been so excited to return to action that on Saturday, he gave away 2,400 T-shirts bearing his “T2” logo to the fans that supported him throughout his rehab last year.
It would be a big shame if Thomas re-injured that knee. I’ll keep you updated if I hear anything new.
So long as we’re talking about injuries, there was more bad news and some good news. First the good. Running back Da’Rel Scott returned to action today after missing a couple of days with a swollen ankle. Also, defensive end Justin Trattou’s ankle sprain is nothing more than a lateral ankle sprain, meaning it’s not a high ankle sprain that often shelves guys for weeks. Trattou was seen today walking rather well despite being in a walking boot, and should be no more than a week or two at most.
Rookie Jayron Hosley had to leave practice today after suffering a laceration on his leg that required stitches. He might be held for a couple of days to allow the cut to heal, but he’ll be all right.
Now for the bad news. Linebacker Michael Boley, who last year missed almost a month due to a hamstring issue, also was sent to the Hospital for Special Surgery to have his hamstring looked at. It’s not known if this is the same hamstring that bothered him last year, but what is known is that Boley is one of several Giants the team can ill-afford to not have for the start of the regular season.
Finally, Keith Rivers, who’s also nursing a hamstring strain, was at practice, though he didn’t work, leaving me to believe his injury isn’t as serious as what Boley is dealing with.
* I thought today was more of a defensive type of day, meaning that the defense really looked more spry, particularly in coverage where it seemed that one defender after another was breaking up plays. One of the guys who stood out was Prince Amukamara, whom as I wrote yesterday, is really starting to show aggression when he’s on the field. Amukamara has been able to stay with the receivers’ hips and on one play against Domenik Hixon, he probably should have benefitted from an offensive pass interference call as Hixon mugged him, knocking him out of position to make an interception.
* I really like what I’m seeing from safety Will Hill. He’s extremely athletic in coverage, and I’m estimating that he broke up about five passes today and was close enough to limit the yards after the catch by receivers on other plays. One play I highlighted was his coverage of tight end Christian Hopkins. Hill went after Hopkins like there was no tomorrow and stopped him cold in his tracks. Both safeties coach David Merritt and defensive coordinator Perry Fewell kept yelling ‘atta boys’ at Hill, who just seemed to become more and more confident with each helping of praise. Remember, the Giants are holding off on re-signing Deon Grant pending what they get from these young safeties, and so far, Hill has been delivering the goods.
* There were quite a few guys who slipped on the still wet grass field, especially on the near sideline. Michael Coe seemed to take the nastiest of spills, though he bounced right back up and finished practice. I’m sure the team is keeping its fingers cross that no one pops up on the injury report tomorrow as a result. Certainly head coach Tom Coughlin wasn’t too happy with all the guys falling down. Hopefully for their sake the rain holds off for the rest of the time they’re here and the fields dry out some more.
*Martellus Bennett had a couple of nice receptions today, including one in which he reached up to pluck a high ball out of the air despite a defender being within sniffing distance. Bennett used his big body to shield the ball as he went to turn and run, and he did a nice job of tucking it away securely.
* I’ve been praising linebacker Mark Herzlich for his coverage skills. Today he showed outstanding effort in providing run support, particularly on one play where he won his battle against an offensive lineman (I think it was Mitch Petrus). You can see just how hungry Herzlich is to win that starting middle linebacker job.
* Good job of coverage by the duo of cornerback Brandon Bing and safety Chris Horton, who along with the rest of their mates forced David Carr to pull the ball down and run.
* Cornerback Antwuan Molden looked like he struggled today. On a number of coverage plays, he seemed to be one or two steps behind the receiver and just didn’t look fast at all.
* Jason Pierre-Paul, who the other day he’s probably about 50 percent of where he thinks he can be, had no trouble against left tackle Will Beatty, managing at one point to get a hand on an Eli Manning pass (a play on which he was double-teamed) to knock it away.
* Fullback Henry Hynoski stonewalled linebacker Jacquian Williams, who was trying to crash through to blow up a running play. Hynoski also had a few other solid lead blocks today, keeping his pad level low and using that newly acquired strength he gained this off-season by pushing a few guys out of the way.
* The same couldn’t be said for Joe Martinek who in as fullback on a DJ Ware run was unable to get any push up the middle as a linebacker came in and got Ware. Martinek knows his assignments, but like many rookies who come into the NFL, there’s usually a transition period where they need to add bulk and increase their strength to play at this level. Still, as a runner, Martinek has been impressive with his speed, especially his ability to get outside and around the edge.
* I keep waiting to see something from receiver Julian Talley, but it’s just not happening. Today, he dropped two passes that were right in his hands. Again, if a young guy doesn’t take care of the little details, he’s not going to get many more opportunities, not with training camp condensed.
* Dante Hughes managed to pick off an Eli Manning pass when he jumped the route on a ball intended for Victor Cruz. And for added show, he received an escort from a delighted Perry Fewell down the field, not that he needed it.
*Another interesting kid whose number I kept writing down was “79W” – that would be offensive lineman Stephen Goodin. Goodin has looked extremely athletic on pulls, and in watching him for a few plays today, I don’t think he lost many of his battles. He could be someone to keep an eye on once the preseason games begin.
“You think I simplified things last year? That was good for you guys to hear, but we got more complicated more than we simplified. I think what we did was we listened and we heard each other, and I simplified a few things just from a call standpoint, but as we entered the playoffs we became more complex.” – Defensive coordinator Perry Fewell dispelling the notion that the defense was made easier for the players down the stretch.
“I wanted to be more involved in the defense. That time, it didn’t really call for it. Whatever it takes for us to win.” – Safety Kenny Phillips on his role last year.
”We don’t look at it as competition. We’re just looking at it as going out there and getting better, making each other better, each and every day.” – Receiver Rueben Randle on the logjam at receiver.
“I hope so because these last couple of years I’ve been playing with little things here and there, but now, for the first time in a while, I feel relatively healthy, and I hope I am just able to maintain that throughout the year. “ – Defensive end Osi Umenyiora, who said the last time he was fully healthy was probably back in 2006.
“We’ve had a couple of plays that come through. I’m not so sure yesterday wasn’t better than today, but we’ve made a little progress.” – Head coach Tom Coughlin on whether the running game has made any improvement.
Everyone is obviously hoping for the best with Terrell Thomas’s knee, but if the unthinkable should happen, it’s going to have significant repercussions in the defensive secondary. Prince Amukamara, will have to slide into Thomas’s starting spot — Thomas, remember, has traditionally played against the slot receiver in the nickel. Meanwhile Antrel Rolle, who finally was able to shed the nickel back job this year, would likely go back there at least until third-round pick Jayron Hosley was ready for that duty. And if Rolle does go to the nickel, that likely means Tyler Sash gets the nod as the safety alongside of Kenny Phillips.
That’s a lot of shuffling around to do in so little time. And that’s a scary thought given how the defense was finally starting to round into its own this early in camp.
The players are off tomorrow so there is no practice report; however, I’ll have a piece on Chris Snee and I’ll be working to finish up the full-length training camp issue of Inside Football which is available as either a full year subscription or for a preseason subscription. I’ll also be around to update you if we hear anything further on Terrell Thomas.