The New York Giants hold their final training camp practice of 2014 Thursday at 1:20 p.m. ET at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Weather permitting, this will be the final 2014 practice that is open to the public. With the end of this phase of the Giants' preseason having arrived, let's assess what we have learned thus far. It's a training camp ending edition of 'Five Things I Think I Think' about the Giants.
100 Percent in Detroit? Probably Not
The Giants have struggled with their new offense thus far. There are signs of good things and plenty of reason to be optimistic, but will things be perfect when the Giants travel to face the Detroit Lions in the regular-season opener a little more than three weeks from now? Probably not. There are too many moving parts, too much to learn, too many players like Beckham and Will Beatty who haven't taken snaps yet to expect things to be perfect.
Most likely, this offense will continue to grow and develop throughout the season. Week 1 should be better than it is now, but there will still be improvement to be made. Remember, back in 2007 the Giants gave up 80 points in back-to-back losses to open the season. That defense turned out to be pretty good, and the season ended up OK.
It's an exciting time with the new offense. I think we have already seen, though, that it isn't going to be smooth sailing right from the start.
Corey Washington Should Make This Team
I'm not an NFL scout, and there are plenty of other people more qualified than I am to evaluate talent. With that said, though, I think the Giants absolutely have to find a way to keep Corey Washington on their 53-man roster.
The kid looks like the real deal. He has impressed not only observers, but his teammates -- including Giants' defensive backs. At 6-foot-4, 214 pounds he has size no other Giants receiver can match. More importantly, he has shown he has the knowledge and willingness to use it. There are other impressive receivers like Marcus Harris and Preston Parker fighting for jobs, but because of his physical tools Washington has the potential to bring an element to the Giants that none of those guys can.
I Like This Draft Class
The Giants' drafts in recent years have left something to be desired, an idea that we have talked about in a variety of ways. This draft class shows signs that it might end up being the best one in several years.
Odell Beckham Jr. is off to a slow star because of his hamstring injury, but there are other good signs. Fourth-round pick Andre Williams is going to end up being a big part of the Giants' running game. Linebacker Devon Kennard, a fifth-round pick, is the most exciting linebacker prospect the Giants have drafted in several years. The selection of Jay Bromley in the third round raised eyebrows. Bromley, though, is showing signs of being a force at defensive tackle. Second-round pick Weston Richburg might not be a starter when the season begins, but he is going to be a quality NFL lineman.
Defense Could Be Top-Notch
The Giants' secondary is deep and talented. Sometimes at practice I wonder if the Giants' passing attack is bad, or if it just has no chance against the quality corners and safeties the Giants possess. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Prince Amukamara and Walter Thurmond could be as good a cornerback trio as their is in the league. The Giants have more quality reserves at the position than they can fit on the roster.
The linebackers are improved with Jameel McClain, Kennard and a seemingly-maturing Jacquian Williams. The eventual return of Jon Beason will also help.
The key to whether this defense is just good or REALLY GOOD will be the defensive line. The signs have been good thus far from Jason Pierre-Paul, Damontre Moore and Mathias Kiwanuka. If that trio can consistently pressure quarterbacks, and Johnathan Hankins can replace Linval Joseph on the inside, this defense could be outstanding.
I Still Like Training Camp In Albany
Yes, I am biased because I live only a few minutes from the UAlbany campus. That means I could easily attend camp practices there, then go home and sleep in my own bed. With camp at the Giants' East Rutherford training facility that makes it a 2.5-hour drive, requires a hotel stay and means I have to pick and choose a few practices to attend. That's not why I still prefer Albany, which lasted hosted the camp in 2012.
Fact is, the fan experience was much, much better in Albany. It was a more open environment in which players had to walk past fans going to and from practice. In New Jersey, players can easily avoid fans if they choose -- they actually have to go out of their way to get to them.
In Albany, fans could get right up to the edge of the field and, in many cases sit right on the sidelines. In New Jersey, fans are basically in make-shift seating on the edge of a parking lot or standing behind a tall chain-link fence -- well away from the action depending on which of the three fields the Giants are using.
I really don't know what the attendance numbers are for camp in East Rutherford. Whatever the Giants are announcing each day I'm not putting much stock in those numbers. The attendance really is pretty sparse, and there's little to no energy from those watching. In Albany, camp was an experience. In New Jersey, it is just practice with some fans watching.
Camp won't go back to Albany. The Giants have everything they need right in their own facility. There is no real reason for them to go anywhere, especially with the shorter, less-intense camps now being run. That doesn't mean I can't pine for the way things used to be.