Lots of notes from the first day of practice at New York Giants Training Camp. Here are a few notes from the transcripts of interviews done with the myriad of coaches and players made available to the media.
Despite starting camp on the Physically Unable To Perform (PUP) list, safety Kenny Phillips is remaining optimistic about the condition of his knee following micro-fracture surgery.
"Honestly, I feel real good about it. It's tested. It's certainly not football tested, but as far as cutting, doing drills, and running. I've been doing this almost the whole off-season. So I'm not worried about that. I'm not worried about being in any pain once I do start. I'm just going to have to get used to playing football again."
Phillips is obviously antsy. You can see it in the way he walks around the field with his helmet on, idly tossing a football up and down and trying to listen in on all the instructions from safeties coach Dave Merritt.
"I was really looking forward to the start of training camp and I'm still looking forward to getting out there," Philips said. "I just want to play football. It's been so long since I've played, I just want to get back out there."
"Deon and myself, we've clicked the first day since we've been here. He's a veteran, he's an extreme veteran, it being his eleventh season, and I followed his footsteps a lot," Rolle said. "I've watched him play for many, many years and right now we're pushing each other, we're making each other better. We're communicating. Our communication level is off the roof and right now so far, so good, and I expect it to get better."
Offensive line coach Pat Flaherty on the development of Will Beatty, the second-round pick from Connecticut a year ago who is challenging for the starting left tackle job.
"As a young player, there's a lot of things he hasn't seen yet. He saw a little bit last year but he's still scratching the surface. He's scratching the surface from a technique standpoint to a strength standpoint," Flaherty said. "He has been given a God-given ability to play offensive line but he still has a way to go. We're going to see what kind of player he can be."
Tight ends coach Mike Pope was asked about the difficulty the team has had finding a role in the offense for Travis Beckum. He gave an answer that sounds a lot like what I had heard from other places during the off-season.
"We did a lot of work in the spring, trying to place him in the offense. He has to be, with his skill, his pass receiving ability, and his speed, a little bit more out in space. But you can't do that totally with him. You have to put him in. Otherwise they're going to play pass when he's in and they're going to play run when he's out," Pope said. "So we have to be able to develop him, which he's never really done because he's only played in a two-point stance. He has to be able to grow into being able to block someone at the end of the line of scrimmage or block as a fullback around the edges."
New defensive line coach Robert Nunn answered a few questions about No. 1 pick Jason Pierre-Paul, the inexperienced defensive end from South Florida.
"I think he will be able to contribute. He's got to continue to work and to do the things he did in the off-season, especially at the end, like right at the end of mini-camp the last week or so, a week or 10 days there, he did a lot of good things, a lot of promising things," Nunn said.
I did not pay much attention when the Giants signed free-agent safety John Busing to fill out their 80-man roster right before the start of training camp. The Giants signed him so late, Busing was the only player on the field Sunday with no name on the back of his jersey.
Busing, 6-foot-0, 222 pounds, is a four-year veteran who started four games last season for the Houston Texans. He drew praise Sunday from Merritt.
"Love him. We had him here in the spring and John, he's a veteran, and to get John back in here, he's going to compete for a spot. Mark my words on that. He is a guy that is a special teams player and he knows his role," Merritt said. "There are some guys that you have to try to cater to and make sure you keep them mentally into it, but a guy like John Busing, he understands his role and I am very excited to have him back."
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride was asked if he could pinpoint a reason for Brandon Jacobs' sub-par 2009 season.
"I don't know, we don't know. He wasn't as effective, so I'm going to say it's his knee. That's the only way I can try to begin to explain it, but with anything it's never just one thing. Maybe we didn't block some things so well, maybe he didn't make some good decisions quite as often, maybe I didn't call the plays at the right times. Who knows?" Gilbride said. "But the bottom line is he's a big, strong powerful back and when he's playing effectively we're a better football team. And so hopefully we can get him back to that. The thing that's maybe unique about him is certainly his size but when you get him in the open space he can run very, very well. I'm talking speed wise. We somehow have to get him through the holes fast enough so he can take advantage of that. And that's something we're hoping to see."
New middle linebacker Keith Bulluck was sounding fired up and ready to hit someone long before the afternoon practice. He professes to have no concern about his surgically-repaired knee.
"I'm just going to go out there. I'm going to be full tilt. I'm not holding back. I feel like I'm fully prepared. The training and rehab that I've done for the last seven months to put me in this position has been one of the Litmus Tests," Bulluck said. "Another will be just getting out there and banging and playing football again. Once I put the cleats on, strap the helmet on, there's no turning back now. I'm here and definitely looking forward to it."