When the most exciting part of practice is watching the work of a rookie punter, it tells you that things aren't exactly thrilling. That, however, was the state of affairs for Monday afternoon's practice during New York Giants Training Camp at the University at Albany.
The work of Matt Dodge, the rookie seventh-round pick from East Carolina, was the most noteworthy thing about the afternoon session -- the first two-a-day of this camp.
I got to the field before practice, early enough to see Dodge working -- unimpressively -- on a side field. Some quality kicks, but just as many poor ones.
During the regular practice session, different story. Dodge kicked 20 times in two separate punt team sessions, and kicked beautifully. The stutter-step or hesitation he showed in nine or 10 kicks Monday was gone, and so were the shanks.
Of those 20 kicks 18 were absolute quality kicks, a few driving returners backwards. One was a wobbler that wasn't well struck, but went out of bounds about 35 yards downfield, and one was a not-so-great 35-yard line drive. There was good height on almost of Dodge's kicks, and I would have to think the Giants would take 18 quality kicks out of 20 all season if Dodge can deliver that.
Now, with one good day kicking and one not so good the question is consistency. Will Dodge be able to kick this well every day?
Here are a few other notes from the afternoon practice.
- Shaun O'Hara did not practice after an ankle injury flared up, something that head coach Tom Coughlin said may have been bothering him for a while now. O'Hara said there is "fluid and swelling" in the ankle and said the team is "being smart about it." All I know is O'Hara better be healthy because I watched Adam Koets play center with the first team today, and I really don't want to consider having to see a lot of that.
- Not sure there is any significance to this at all, but I will toss it out there anyway. Between the morning and afternoon sessions, the Giants ran 11-on-11 three times. All three times, Ahmad Bradshaw -- not Brandon Jacobs -- took the first snaps. Bradshaw worked both practices today, by the way, and looks to be moving and cutting very well after off-season foot and ankle surgery.
- The Giants defense flashed a Tampa 2 look at one point, and Steve Smith and Eli Manning connected on a beautiful long ball right in between Corey Webster and Deon Grant in that defenses traditional soft spot between safety and corner. I will say this -- the ball had to be absolutely perfectly placed to squeeze in the hole, and it was.
- Wide receiver Derek Hagan made back-to-back nice catches on passes from Jim Sorgi. One was a quick in, the other a longer ball down the right sideline where he shed a jam from Seth Williams and ended up wide open.
- During a Red Zone drill Sorgi found Mario Manningham (yes, your first Manningham reference) for a touchdown across the middle. Of course, in a real game Manningham might have gotten blasted on the play.
- Couple of nice defensive plays by defensive tackles Chris Canty and Jay Alford, each of whom got into the backfield on separate occasions to stuff running plays.
- Will Beatty worked at both tackle slots and Guy Whimper worked a lot at left guard as the Giants continued shuffling players along the offensive line.