Training Camp 2012 Wrap Up
With the toot of an air horn, another summer training camp is now in the history books.
One of the obvious questions, as put to head coach Tom Coughlin, was did the team do what it set out to do?
“Not enough; I would always say that,” he said. “You get into it and you really, really do look forward to the – O.K. next day and trying to get better, especially when you play a game. When you have all these objectives ahead of you and then all of a sudden you look down and you tell your team, you know what, we’re on our 14th or 15th practice. 14th or 15th practice? We’re not even scratching the surface. We’ve got so much more to go and so much more work to do. So that’s my opinion of it.”
The shortened training camp is a result of the new collective bargaining agreement, which specifies that teams must wait three days before donning full pads, which of course limits contact drills. In the Giants case, toss in the fact that one of their scheduled practices had to be moved indoors due to rain, and it’s no wonder why Coughlin would feel a little squeamish about what the team was able to accomplish given the circumstances.
While camp might be over, there’s still a few more weeks until the season opener. The team will be resuming its preparation for the defense of its title on its home turf at the Timex Performance Center starting Thursday, so until then, let’s take a quick look back at Summer Camp 2012.
THINGS I LEARNED
1. If you aren’t feeling right, say something. Seriously, who would have thought that a mattress problem would create such a stir in an NFL training camp? But that’s precisely what happened on the final day of camp as due rash of back injuries caused players such as Will Beatty, Linval Joseph, and Martellus Bennett to speak up about the poor quality of mattresses in the UAlbany dorms and their possible role in said back ailments.
2. These new CBA practice restrictions stink. I’m all for player safety, but you know what? Injuries are going to happen anyway, as we’ve unfortunately seen with defensive tackles Martin Parker (back) and Shaun Rogers (blood clot). Football is a contact sport, and the body just isn’t built for repeated trauma that comes with playing the game.
I know I can’t be the only person who feels this way – here you have players who are trying to earn jobs in the NFL and coaches who are willing to help them, only to be restricted by the rules. I’ve often wondered just how long it will be until some of the league’s long-time coaches who are throwbacks to the old times when there used to be two practices per day become so frustrated that they hang it up. It will be a sad day if that ever happens.
3. Take what injured players say with a grain of salt. I understand the competitive fire in players who are injured, and how they aspire to get back on the field as soon as possible. But I don’t care how fast one heals – there are just some injuries that need time and to say otherwise just sets a player (and the fans, in some cases) for a letdown. I’d almost rather a player not say anything than to sit there and insist they’re going to be ready for camp only to learn they’re not. And while each player knows his body better than anyone, one still has to be smart when making predictions.
1. Michael Boley’s hamstring. The Giants need Boley in the lineup, and the fact his hamstring is taking a while to heal is concerning (remember, he did return to practice for a day only to end up sitting out again). The last time Boley deal with a hamstring injury, he missed a little over four weeks. Will he be ready in time for the season opener? That’s a question on everyone’s mind.
2. Jacquian Williams’ hip. See Boley write-up, above. I know Williams recently downplayed his injury, but he’s missed a couple weeks of practice and preseason game. If you’re missing that much time, I’d say that the injury is a little more than being “no big deal.”
3. Will Beatty’s back.. The good news is that according to Coughlin, Beatty is responding to medication. Still, it’s very easy to throw out one’s back and if the Giants have to go without Beatty, that’s not good for an offensive line that’s trying to establish chemistry before the season begins.
1. Why isn’t Domenik Hixon getting more of a look at punt returner? Maybe they have concerns about him overdoing it with his knee, but since Hixon has been out of the lineup, the punt return production has been atrocious. Further, none of the youngsters competing for the job has jumped ahead in the competition, which is another concern.
2. Is David Wilson going to stay as the kickoff returner? Yes, he brings speed to the position and has good vision and acceleration, but you have to figure that at some point Wilson is going to be needed to play a bigger role on offense. Will the team continue to expose him to possible injury on special teams when that happens? And if not, who is their backup plan?
3. How will Ahmad Bradshaw hold up? I mentioned his injury history in point two, but I will also mention that there were times in practices where I thought he didn’t look quite as fast as he has in past years. In our Jaguars’ post game report, senior analyst Bob Folger expressed the same concern, writing:
“Given a few touches with the first team, Bradshaw looked like he was running in sand. Yes it’s very early, but we worry that Bradshaw’s numerous foot problems have robbed him of the quick feet that he showed during his first two years.”
While it’s possible that Bradshaw is saving it for the regular season, it still bears watching.
GUYS WHO LIKELY HELPED THEMSELVES
1. S Will Hill. He picked up where he left off in the spring, showing tremendous athleticism and a nose for the ball. He’s also not afraid to lay a licking on a ball carrier, showing an aggressive streak that you like to see in a safety. Barring a total collapse, Hill has this team made.
2. DT Dwayne Hendricks. People forget that Hendricks actually was good enough last year to earn a short stint on the 53-man roster before having to be sent back to the practice squad when injuries started popping up. This summer, Hendricks has put together a strong preseason, showing a good feel for the defensive tackle position. As we wrote about him in last week’s issue: “He’s big enough to hold up to the run, quick enough to threaten a seam, smart enough to anticipate what’s coming, and instinctive enough to anticipate what’s going to happen.”
3. LB Spencer Paysinger. I had concerns about Paysinger’s roster spot, but so far, I think he’s played very well. Remember, Paysinger, along with Greg Jones, is trying to become that all-purpose linebacker who can play any of the three spots, the role that Chase Blackburn used to fill before becoming the starting middle linebacker. If Mark Herzlich shows by the end of the summer to beat out Blackburn for the starting middle linebacker job, and Paysinger, who’s every bit as good of special teams player as Blackburn, continues to make plays on defense, it’s not too far-fetched to think he might unseat Blackburn or Jones for a roster spot.
4. DE Adrian Tracy. While it doesn’t hurt that his primary competition, Justin Trattou, has been sidelined, Tracy has opened quite a few eyes, since moving back to defensive end, especially with his ability to knife into the backfield.
GUYS WHO MIGHT HAVE HURT THEMSELVES
1. RB Da’Rel Scott. Two injuries in the span of a week that resulted in missed practice time didn’t sit too well with head coach Tom Coughlin. Scott has good straight-ahead speed, but he needs to show a lot more if he’s to stick.
2. QB Ryan Perrilloux: He’s been in the Giants system for two years – and yes I count last year even though he was on and off the practice squad. Anyway, he is still having trouble making his reads resulting in him holding onto the ball too long. The Giants probably weren’t planning to keep a third quarterback on the final 53-man roster, but it sure would be nice if they could find a young prospect that shows progress from year to year.
3. OT James Brewer. While I think he makes the final 53, the fact that he can’t stay on the field because of his back is a big reason Sean Locklear seems to be ahead of him on the team’s “unofficial” depth chart.
IT WOULDN’T SURPRISE ME IF…
1. Chris Canty starts the year on PUP. I know that’s the last thing anyone wants, especially given the injuries to defensive end, but it didn’t sound too promising when Canty was asked this week. if he’d be on the field for Opening Day.
“It’s tough to say. It’s tough to say,” he said. “It’s a matter of making sure that we can put together enough good days, making sure that I’m feeling good, and in the kind of shape that I would need to be in to compete at a high level.”
Canty still needs to be able to pass a physical; until he does, he’ll stay on PUP.
2. Jayron Hosley is the nickel back. While Antrel Rolle has experience in the nickel back spot, Hosley, remember was drafted in part to fill that role. The team seems to be fast-tracking Hosley’s education to the nickel back spot, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they go with him there and leave Rolle at safety in the nickel package, especially considering that Tyler Sash is going to be gone for four games.
3. Ramses Barden makes the final 53. I know there are some who want him gone, especially since he doesn’t play special teams. But David Douglas missed some valuable practice/playing time and if that has set him back, that might just be the crease Barden needs to stay on the roster.
I promise to have a first guess at the final 53 before the first roster cuts are made on August 28.