To get a look at their future, the Giants are likely to take a time out from the present.
After over a dozen spring and summer practices, the Giants are planning to get their first live game action look at quarterback Davis Webb, whom head coach Ben McAdoo indicates will get some lie reps in Friday’s preseason opener against Pittsburgh.
Webb, who has barely seen team reps during organized practices–he’s instead been limited to 7-on-7 drill work–got a big opportunity Wednesday to show the coaching staff how far he’s come along in his ability to run the offense.
To set the stage, the Giants have a part of practice in which McAdoo gives both the offense and defense a scenario–down, distance, yard line, time outs, and time left on the clock (which is usually under two minutes). The challenge? The offense must score and the defense must stand its ground.
Webb, working with the third-string offense, engineered a fourth-down pass to receiver Jerome Lane to extend the drive, rolling out to avoid a pass rush that might have rattled any other young quarterback just starting out at the pro level.
“That was a good play,” Webb said after practice ended. “They brought it a little bit, I had to move, I felt pressure in my face, got out of the pocket, and Jerome did a good job of coming back to the football on his little curl route, and put it on him.”
To get to that point, Webb led the offense systematically down the field, picking up a key first down and stopping the clock by connecting with a receiver along the sideline.
“Getting out of bounds, that’s a big first down. Especially getting out of bounds, that’s a big thing. We did have one timeout then, but just getting out of bounds, getting us back in the huddle, regrouping so we can go onto the next play,” Webb said.
While the offense under Webb came up short in their quest to attempt a “game-tying” field goal, McAdoo liked what he saw from the young quarterback.
“He did a nice job,” McAdoo said. “It was a tough situation to come in, two-minute drill there. We needed a field goal to tie, a touchdown to win, came up short, but it was a good, productive drill.”
Hopefully the first of many Webb runs this preseason as he continues to justify the organization’s faith in him as a potential heir to Eli Manning, who isn’t expected to play Friday night.
Linebacker Keenan Robinson is still in the concussion protocol, but he did make an appearance for the first time in almost a week.
Defensive tackle Robert Thomas (soreness), linebacker Mark Herzlich (stinger), defensive back Ryan Murphy (unknown), receiver Kevin Snead (unknown) and cornerback Mykkele Thompson (quad) remain sidelined and are long shots to play.
Tavarres King (ankle) didn’t work for a second day in a row.
Defensive end Avery Moss, who left practice early yesterday with a shoulder ailment, was back today taking his full practice rep load.
No change to the statuses of the two players on PUP, linebacker J.T. Thomas and running back Shaun Draughn.
D.J. Fluker, who had been pulling double duty at both right guard and right tackle, was back to working at right guard today thanks to the arrival of Corbin Brooks, the undrafted free agent offensive lineman signed last night. …The Giants dusted off an interesting formation, one that we saw a handful of times last season though if you blinked you probably missed it.
They had both Jason Pierre Paul and Olivier Vernon line up next to each other on the right side (Vernon’s usual side). The running play went the opposite direction, but I can’t imagine the site of those two pass rushers lining up next to one another can be reassuring for any left tackle.
It also looked as though Damon Harrison’s workload was reduced today. Jay Bromley and Dalvin Tomlinson got in some good work together when Harrison got his breathers.
Sterling Shepard (ankle) did 7-on-7 drills today, but no team work. Shepard hardly looks like a man who sprained his ankle last week, but still, the Giants are being cautious with him. I doubt he’ll play Friday night.
Daily Ereck Flowers Update
With rookie offensive tackle Chad Wheeler really coming on in the last several days, the coaches decided it was time to throw caution to the wind and try him at–wait for it–left tackle with the first-string offense.
That’s right, Wheeler, the undrafted rookie free agent out of USC stepped in for Flowers for three plays and NOT because Flowers was injured or needed his equipment adjusted.
So how did Wheeler do, coach McAdoo?
“He jumped on there and got beat like a drum on the first play.” he said. “After that, he hung in there nicely.”
McAdoo isn’t kidding about that first snap. Olivier Vernon, as he’s done so many times to Flowers, beat Wheeler like a drum so bad that Wheeler, doing his best Flowers imitation, blatantly held his defensive teammate to no avail.
After that, Wheeler did settle down and although he still played high, he got the job done with much better technique.
“I see a young, talented player,” said McAdoo, who also gave Wheeler some first-team reps during the job-through part of practice toward the end. “He’s a physical player. He’s a young player that can bend well. He’s working on the fundamental part of the game. He seems to get football.”
For those who think there is a chance of Wheeler replacing Flowers in the starting lineup this year, I would say the odds are low of that happening.
First, as I’ve said before, the Giants need to decide on whether to pick up Flowers’ option year after this season. They cannot do that if he is sitting on the bench, and they’re certainly not going to decide to make a switch at the position based on training camp practices that have mostly been of the “thud-and-release” variety.
Secondly, Wheeler definitely needs to get strong in his upper body, for one, and although his technique does look better than it did in the spring and at the start of camp, he still has some ways to go before he’s ready for full time duty.
With all that said, after really having no one to backup up Flowers last year, it’s somewhat reassuring that they finally have options to where maybe the third-year left tackle can be put on a shorter leash than he has been in the past.
What He Said
“He jumped in there and got beat like a drum on the first play. After that, he hung in there nicely.”
–Ben McAdoo on rookie Chad Wheeler’s first snaps with the starting offense at left tackle
Even in the preseason, where the outcome of games doesn’t matter, head coach Ben McAdoo is tight lipped regarding his plans for personnel deployment.
He did however, say that things would be very similar to last year’s preseason opener. To get a clue as to what we might expect, I looked up the game book.
Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. were both healthy scratches; everyone else who didn’t play in that game at the time had been dealing with injuries.
As for the rest of the starters, The Giants ended up pulling the starting offense after the first series, but left the starting defense, which remember at the time had a lot of new faces, in for two series, which just happened to make up the entire first quarter.
So what does that mean for Friday’s preseason opener?
My guess is the Giants will flip it. The starting defense will probably get one series together while the starting offense, minus Manning and Beckham, will probably get a couple of series together if just to allow for the revamped running game, the offensive line, and tight ends Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison to continue jelling.
For those who are concerned that the offense can’t gel Friday without Manning, McAdoo, who has said before that this is the best camp Manning is having since he (McAdoo) arrived here) doesn’t necessarily agree.
“He is completing the ball at a high percentage, he knows the offense like the back of his hand, and he has been in the offense for four years now, so he has been able to teach others,” the coach said when asked where Manning is in terms of working with his new parts.
Another hint McAdoo dropped involved the running game, which will be led by Paul Perkins. The Giants offense is looking to establish its will and tempo early in the game this year, and to do so, they need to get the running game going right out of the chute.
“Yeah, we need to come out and run the ball, first group,” McAdoo said. “We will talk later about how many plays we are going to get the first group, but coming out running the football is important to us and it starts with the first time we hit the field together in a team environment.”
Fan Question of the Day
— Bkauf (@gmenfan81) August 9, 2017
Great question (and a different one)! Disclaimer: I need to see the games to gain a better feel for what might happen and how the injury situation might play out, but I think some of the guys on the bubble who could be “surprise cuts” include tight end Will Tye, linebacker Mark Herzlich, defensive end Kerry Wynn, and receiver Roger Lewis.
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- I didn’t think this as one of Bobby Hart’s better practices either. He took was getting beat and just didn’t’ look as effective run blocking as he had. Hart, I thought, was better than Flowers on the day, but I wouldn’t be shocked if the coaches agree that this was a tiny step backward for the two young offensive tackles.
- I thought the starting offensive line as a whole had an off day. Center Weston Richburg sent a shotgun snap over Eli Manning’s head and Justin Pugh appeared to hold Jay Bromley a couple of times. No need to panic of course, but the first-team line wasn’t as crisp as it had been the last few days.
- Adam Bisnowaty, working at right tackle with the second team offensive line, also had himself a rough day. Bisnowaty’ s biggest obstacle right now is playing lower. When he plays too high, as he did today, guys are going to sneak underneath him which means to stop them, he has to grab at their head/neck area.
- D.J. Fluker was beaten at least once by defensive tackle Corbin Bryant. Fluker, who had been doing double duty the last few days due to the injury suffered by the since waived Jessamen Dunker, had looked sluggish to start practice, but his energy level appeared to pick up as things went on. He got the better of Evan Schwan, stopping the rookie cold in his tracks.
- Aldrick Rosas made three of four field goal attempts. To be fair, his lone miss came on a shaky snap and hold. I find it interesting that the coaches haven’t put him in a pressure situation yet, at least not that I’ve seen. By that I mean having him line up to kick a long-distance field goal to get his teammates out of meetings or something to that degree. I guess the pressure of kicking in the game is good enough.
- We saw this formation a small handful of times last year, but defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo decided to bring it out again in this practice. The formation had Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon lined up on the same side. Pierre-Paul was the inside guy and Vernon the outside guy. The play was a run and it went away from them, but it’s good to see Spagnuolo trying out all the tricks in his playbook.
- The Giants tried a little razzle-dazzle on a flea-flicker in which Dwayne Harris tried to chuck the ball down the field. Unfortunately for him, cornerback Valentino Blake broke up the pass.
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