The temperature in East Rutherford wasn’t the only thing soaring during Thursday’s practice.
For the third straight day, the New York Giants went through a full padded practice. And for the third straight day, there were some dustups—at least three to be exact—that occurred during team drills.
The dustups, from what one could tell, mostly involved younger players looking to make a statement, which is fine with head coach Ben McAdoo.
“I like the intensity early in practice. I thought we were physical on both sides of the ball,” he said.
“On the half-line drill, then we turn it into our 9-on-7 drill, inside run… it was very physical with the gap schemes and that’s a part of it, but we need that physicality. We’re going to turn into a heavy-handed, physical football team.”
Heavy-handed and physical is fine, but fighting has never really been tolerated in the NFL which is why it’s rather odd that McAdoo hasn’t’ taken a firmer stance on these issues, at least while the team is out on the field.
Some of his veteran players hinted it’s much ado about nothing.
“It happens every year,” said offensive lineman Justin Pugh. “You go into the locker room, you shake that guy’s hand, you move on from it. It’s part of it. Nine-on-seven, three days in pads we’ve been, so it was bound to happen. We’ve just got to make sure we protect each other because we’re family. At the end of the day, come September, whenever we play Dallas, we’re all on the same team, we’re wearing the same jersey. So, that’s the thing we have to keep in mind.”
“Practice is practice. You’re going to get things like that,” added defensive end Olivier Vernon, who was believed to have been part of one of the dust-ups. “You know, we just keep moving forward from that. We’re still teammates at the end of the day.”
The problem, and what McAdoo didn’t like, was that the dustups occurred because of some extra pushing and shoving that took place after the while blew.
“We just have to do a better job of handling the extracurricular activities after the whistle,” he said.
Easier said than done, right?
“We have to commit ourselves to discipline and poise. It takes time to get there,” McAdoo said when asked how the team might balance being physical with being smart.
“It’s just the third day in a row in pads. It usually happens around this time, but we need to commit ourselves to discipline and poise. If we can’t handle it, then I’ll interject and we’ll go do some other things, then come back and finish the drill.”
What those other things are remains to be seen, but certainly there has to be some concern that someone is going to lose self-control and do something that could have greater repercussions.
Linebacker Keenan Robinson was not at practice. McAdoo said Robinson is in the concussion protocol. Receiver Tavarres King had his ankle rolled up on so he had to leave practice early.
Linebacker B.J. Goodson had his foot stepped on toward the end of practice. He tried to guy it out, but ultimately had to leave practice early.
McAdoo said defensive end Devin Taylor and running back Shane Vereen, both of whom have been sidelined with lower body soreness since last week, were on schedule to return for Friday’s walk-though practice. Interestingly, Taylor had his pads on for the practice, but he was kept out of the drills.
McAdoo also said that receiver Sterling Shepard had a MRI done on his injured ankle to assess any damage done. The team hasn’t not changes its stance on the nature of Shepard’s injury, which McAdoo has described as a basketball type of injury.
Cornerback Valentino Blake (back) remained out of action as did offenisve lineman Jessamen Dunker (foot). Also no change on the two PUP players, J.T. Thomas and Shaun Draughn.
Jason Pierre-Paul was back at work after his day off. However, center Weston Richburg had his snaps cut down, perhaps for the same reason as Pierre-Paul did. Brett Jones shared the snaps at center when Richburg was on the sideline.
Travis Rudolph received some first-team snaps in the slot after Tavarres King had to leave practice with a rolled ankle. Mark Herzlich finished practice as the middle linebacker after B.J. Goodson (foot) couldn’t finish up.
Running back Orleans Darkwa received some snaps with the first-team offense.
What He Said
“I would tell him to grab the face mask and go upper cuts – don’t throw straights because then you hurt your hand – but, that’s me. No, no, no, all jokes aside, at the end of the day, we’ve got to protect each other and be safe.”
–Justin Pugh on what message he’d deliver to younger teammates about the extracurricular activities.
Options on the Offensive Line Developing
After three days of padded practice, the returns on the New York Giants offensive line are slowly but surely rolling in.
The verdict? Progress is being made.
“I think we put some good things on tape, but, it’s stringing together multiple good days,” offensive lineman Justin Pugh said. “Keep doing the right things consistently. So, that’s the thing that we’re working on right now. Just keep building that consistency.”
Pugh, who isn’t shy about voicing his opinions and who is generally an optimistic type of guy, also praised his line mates for improving their communication from last year.
“I like where we started, I like it a lot. Guys are communicating, guys are getting along. We’re getting things done. Continue to build off that, never let [ourselves have] good day and digress and go back the other way.”
Head coach Ben McAdoo also seemed pleased with the progress the unit has made.
“I think the offensive line had a couple of good runs the last two days,” he said. “I thought it was physical. I thought the defense was physical today. I thought the offense was a little bit more physical yesterday, but the defense responded today and set the tone. That’s encouraging to see.”
Interestingly, McAdoo mentioned that there were “some young players on that second offensive line group that have a chance to push people for jobs.”
He didn’t mention names, but two who immediately come to mind are D.J. Fluker, who has really picked up his game since camp started, and Brett Jones, who on Thursday split first-team reps at center with Weston Richburg, whose workload was being dialed back a bit.
“Fluker – obviously you put pads on, he’s the biggest human being I’ve ever seen. Brett Jones, probably one of the smaller guys I’ve seen in the NFL, but both of those guys are going out there and putting on a good show,” Pugh quipped.
The development of Fluker and Jones, as well as the flashes shown by Adam Gettis and rookie Adam Bisnowaty are important because they give the Giants options just in case come game-time, someone struggles or is injured.
“Adam Gettis is just a veteran that’s consistently just always doing good work,” Pugh said. “But all of the guys, even the young guys who are coming up. Bisnowaty’s a tough guy, Chad Wheeler, a kid that we brought in, has done some good things, moves his feet well. So, I’m excited about this group as a whole.”
The development of these linemen is a plus for a Giants team that last year really didn’t have options in the event of poor play or injury. Although they didn’t add any big names to the group, this year, the depth seems more solid to where they have the pieces to move around and not miss a beat.
Then there is the roster cut down day. Should the depth become depleted or not deliver in games as is expected, the Giants are certain to scour the waiver wire for additional help.
Young Offensive Tackles Improving
If the Giants are to go anywhere this year, they need their two young offensive tackles, Ereck Flowers on the left side and Bobby Hart on the right, to show vast improvement from last year.
“I see two guys that are learning the game, that move like football players, and it doesn’t look too big for them,” said head coach Ben McAdoo.
“I think the work in the offseason allowed them to learn, and that’s what the offseason is for. Now, we have a chance to see if they can play with leverage and put their pads on somebody.”
There’s still a lot of summer football left to go, including four preseason games, but both Flowers and Hart are getting some good work in against two of the very best pass rushers in the NFL in Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul.
Flowers in particular has the spotlight on him this summer given his first-round pedigree and the fact the Giants have to decide on whether to pick up his option year in his rookie contract after this season.
Vernon, who at times has made Flowers look silly in pass protection, said he can see progress in Flowers.
“As far as his hands, his hands are getting better,” Vernon said. “As far as technique, he’s improved a whole lot, I’ll say that.”
Vernon revealed that Flowers has been a little more forward with asking questions after plays.
“I know with Flowers, he’s always working on his technique, and asking questions about what he’s doing wrong or what he’s doing good on. So, that tells me he’s somebody just trying to get better.”
Justin Pugh, who lines up next to Flowers on the offensive line, echoed Vernon’s sentiments about Flowers’ improvement.
“I think he’s definitely [improved],” Pugh said.
Like Vernon, Pugh has made certain to stay in Flowers’ ear, particularly after a play gone awry.
“If there’s ever a tough look where we’re seeing something else, it’s finding that common ground where like, ‘Why are you seeing it this way and how am I seeing it,’ to make sure that we’re both seeing it the same way. I need to know where he’s going to be at and he needs to know where I’m going to be at.
“So, that’s the biggest thing and there’s so many different looks in football. Any particular play, you can get 10 different looks, so being able to communicate with that guy next to me is huge. So, every play we’re always kind of talking to each other, making sure we’re seeing the same thing.”
Besides the work done by Flowers in the offseason and into camp, Pugh noted that the competition added to the Giants offensive line room is going to help as well.
“There’s competition in the room. There’s guys that are not starting right now that have gone out there and have played well. So, that’s going to make guys better, that pushes everybody.”
Fan Question of the Day
@Patricia_Traina how are the rookies looking so far?
— Ryan Cunningham (@ThatsMrBaldy2u) August 3, 2017
Thanks for the question Ryan. There are going to be some growing pains with the rookies in terms of their technique, but I think we’re starting to see some of them settle down a bit more. I really like what I’ve seen from tight end Evan Engram–I think Giants fans are going to love him and how he’s used in the offense.
Wayne Gallman is intriguing, but I do want to see how he pass protects and if he runs lower to the ground through piles. Adam Bisnowaty should be a solid backup for the time being–he needs a little polish on his technique to eliminate some of the early camp holding, but there is definitely promise there.
I need to see more from Dalvin Tomlinson. Often he ends up in a pile so it’s hard to get a good read on where he is at, so I’ll be watching for him in the games. And Davis Webb has a pretty good arm on him. I’m not sure how much action he’ll see in the preseason, but he looks like he’s improving a little each day.
- The Giants introduced a couple of new special teams drills today designed to stress technique in blocking punts. In one of the drills, punter Brad Wing swung a ball on a cord to simulate the initial kick. The defenders then had to get a hand on the ball to block it. Then on a more advanced aspect of the drill, the defender had to get by a punt team fullback, to make the block.
- Aldrick Rosas went four of four on his field goal attempts, the longest of which was, I believe, from 44 yards. Rosas remains perfect this summer in his field goal attempts.
- Ereck Flowers whiffed badly when trying to block Olivier Vernon. Flowers stood up after the play, throwing his hands up as if to say, “Where did he go?” Flowers also held Dalvin Tomlinson, who stunted with Romeo Okwara on a pass rush.
- Darian Thompson and Nat Berhe came up with interceptions in team drills today. I get the sense that Thompson is leading the competition for free safety over Andrew Adams, and its ball-hawking skills that are putting him in the position to do so.
- Landon Collins burst through the line and cleaned Orleans Darkwa’s clock. While you can appreciate Collins’ forcefulness, on that play you almost wish he had dialed it back a bit as it was a bone crushing type of jolt.
- Bobby Hart had a couple of false starts during the team part of practice in which crowd noise was pumped in.
- Geno Smith missed a wide-open Travis Rudolph on a comeback route. Afterwards, quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti huddled up with Smith to discuss something.
- A slimmer looking D.J. Fluker showed amazing athleticism in executing a block on a defensive lineman (I think it was Dalvin Tomlinson) and then firing out to the second level to pick off a linebacker. This has been the best I’ve seen Fluker move this camp.
- During the spring, Evan Schwan regularly got the best of Chad Wheeler. This time around, Wheeler got the better of Schwan. The problem though is Wheeler got a little too aggressive, in that he flung Schwan to the ground. Wheeler has the tools to work with, but he really needs to play a more disciplined game.
- WR Kevin Snead toasted cornerback Nigel Tribune and, I think, safety Duke Ihenacho for a long touchdown on a pass from Josh Johnson. Snead has speed, no question. But I am not sure how well he’s going to do when he’s asked to run other routes that don’t require straight-line speed.
- DE Owa Odighizuwa was spotted leaving the field with defensive line coach Patrick Graham after practice. Graham was doing quite a bit of talking. I’m not sure what was said, but I wonder if perhaps he was trying to pump up Odighizuwa, who at times looked unsure of himself during drills.
- The more I watch LB Calvin Munson, the more I like what I see. Munson appears to read and diagnose plays quickly, as he did in filling a hole on a running play that forced the runner to the outside where he was strung out.
- There likely won’t be room for him on the 53-man roster, but Colin Thompson, an undrafted free agent tight end had himself a nice practice today. Thompson looks very smooth catching passes and has some good speed afterwards.
Public Practice Schedule
Subject to change. Please call 201-935-9385 on the day you plan to attend training camp to verify nothing has changed.[table “20” not found /]
Editor’s Note: Apologies for the late posting…unfortunately our web site hosting service had an issue that prevented us from accessing the site for most of the day. Hopefully the issue has been resolved going forward.