New York Giants Training Camp is officially underway.
The Giants started the day with a conditioning test, held some meetings and went through a very light afternoon practice -- just slightly more than a walk-through that lasted maybe an hour and 20 minutes.
"It's good to be back, good to be going," coach Tom Coughlin said. "That's why we practiced today. I wanted to get the message across about action, being on the field and getting it done out here. ... I wanted to get on the field."
There was little in terms of action during Sunday afternoon's workout at the University at Albany. No 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 work, the stuff that really gets the crowd involved and gets the reporters on the sidelines really paying attention.
Lots of special teams work, some 'scout-team' type stuff and a very short passing segment matching receivers and defensive backs.
Anyway, here are a handful of practice highlights.
- With all the special teams work, we got our first extended look at Matt Dodge, the East Carolina punter the Giants drafted in the seventh round in hopes he can replace the retired Jeff Feagles. I counted nine kicks by Dodge during a punt drill, and the results were decidedly uninspiring. His first two kicks were ugly ducks with no height that went only about 30 yards. He did boom a couple of punts 50 yards or more, showing a strong leg. His kicks were inconsistent in height, distance and direction, though, and there was an awkward, noticeable stutter step on a few of his kicks. In game conditions, that stutter step would lead to blocked punts. So, Dodge has lots of work to do.
- After stretching the Giants began the workout with a spirited, entertaining game of "hot potato." Positional groups squared off until all but the defensive linemen and defensive backs remained, with the defensive backs being declared the winners. Coughlin enjoyed the action, saying he "had a little league baseball team that did that."
- First muffed punt of training camp, while catching balls launched from the punting machine, came from Mario Manningham.
- During the abbreviated passing drills section of practice Derek Hagan fired the first salvo in the competition to take the snaps vacated by Domenik Hixon. Hagan blew past a helpless Antrel Rolle in 1-on-1 coverage and hauled in a 50-yard pass from Eli Manning.
- Terrell Thomas had the best defensive play of the drill, breaking up a long ball by Jim Sorgi intended for Adam Jennings. Thomas celebrated with some on-the-field pushups, drawing a rise from those in attendance.
- Ramses Barden made a nice catch on a quick stop route, using his body to shield Rolle and make the grab.