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New York Giants rookie mini-camp: Takeaways from Friday's practice

What did we learn about the Giants' rookie class on Friday?

Sterling Shepard runs by Eli Apple during Friday's mini-camp
Sterling Shepard runs by Eli Apple during Friday's mini-camp
William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants got their rookies on the field Friday for the first time as part of a rookie mini-camp. Here are a few quick observations from the day.

No. 1 vs. No. 2

The matchup everyone was hoping to see Friday was first-round pick Eli Apple vs. second-round pick Sterling Shepard on a pass route. We got it during an 11-on-11 session, and it turned into the play of day. It was, really, a good news/bad news play for both Apple and Shepard.

Shepard beat Apple near the beginning of a vertical route, causing Apple to reach out and grab him (yes, clear penalty). Shepard then sprinted past Apple and undrafted free agent quarterback Josh Woodrum laid a beautiful deep ball in Shepard's hands. Unfortunately, Shepard bobbled it, popping it into the air and allowing Apple, closing quickly, to intercept the ball.

What should have been a big offensive play thus turned into a big defensive one, Ahh, rookies!

Justin Tuck retirement reactions

When defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo saw Justin Tuck recently, his thought was "that's the way they're supposed to look. Those defensive ends in a 4-3, that's the way they look."

Spagnuolo pointed out that at one time or another during his two years coaching him, Tuck lined up at every position on defense except safety. Why not safety? "When he put me in at cornerback I didn't do it right," said Tuck.

Many of the rookies took time out from practice to watch at least a portion of Tuck's retirement speech.

"I thought it was awesome," said fifth-round pick Paul Perkins. "I watched Justin Tuck coming up, that whole team. Seeing him retire is an honor for me to sit and watch."

What did he learn?

"You put a lot into this game. When it's time for you to leave you know that you've left it all on the field," Perkins said.

Spags happy to get help

Much was made about the fact that this was the first time in franchise history covering 86 drafts that the Giants did not select at least one offensive or defensive lineman. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was just happy to add the three defensive players -- cornerback Eli Apple (Round 1), safety Darian Thompson (Round 3), linebacker B.J. Goodson (Round 4).

"I'm glad we got defensive players. I thought Jerry (Reese)'s scouts and personnel department did a heck of a job and we feel draft-wise we got three pretty good players on defense. Every team, every unit needs them in all of the spots," Spagnuolo said. "But it was unique. I really haven't thought about it until somebody mentioned it. It worked out the way it did and I'm glad we got the guys we got."

The Giants have only had the rookies in the building since Thursday, and Friday was the first time they got them on the field. If a single drafted player left a Day 1 impression on Spagnuolo, it would be Thompson.

"We didn't do anything fast out here. It was more of a jog through [in the morning, so it's really tough right now. There were some guys out there. It's just a 30-minute deal, but (Darian) Thompson I thought was barking out," Spagnuolo said. "That's the first thing I look for in a safety. Will you be loud? Are you not afraid to make a mistake? I think that's huge and that stuck out a little bit. We've got a long way to go though."

Thompson understands that if he is going to play the center field role, he needs to be able to lead.

"It is very important for a safety to be able to command back there in the secondary because they can see everything. To be a leader back there and the quarterback of the defense," Thompson said. "That's something that I've been doing throughout the college level, so it just comes natural for me."

Goodson flashed into the backfield on one play during an 11-on-11 session and would have stopped running back Marshaun Coprich for a loss in a live situation.

Sullivan on wide receiver glut

Of the 73 players who took the field Friday, 13 were wide receivers. There could be competition for the last coupel of receiver spots on the 53-man roster.

"Our scheme is set up so that there are opportunities for guys to utilize their skill sets, whether it is winning on the inside or being better on some of the intermediate short routes or having the vertical speed, so I think there are certainly some opportunities for those guys to kind of step in to the mix," Sullivan said. "it is kind of like the running backs from a standpoint that the better competition that we can have, it is going to raise the level of all those players and give us some good things to have as far as seeing who will get on the field."

And finally 

Spagnuolo still has a pretty good arm. During a pair of drills early in practice, he was throwing tight spirals to defensive backs. Don't know about the deep ball, but Spags can deliver the short throw with some zip on it ...

Tight end Matt LaCosse and wide receiver Ben Edwards were participants on Friday. Both finished the season with the Giants last year. It was especially good to see Edwards on the field after he left the recent veteran mini-camp with an apparent knee injury.

Lache Seastrunk, a running back drafted in the sixth round by the Washington Redskins in 2014 have never played an NFL down, is one of the players receiving a tryout. Another veteran trying out is Lawrence Sidbury, a defensive end with seven years of experience. He is 30. Quarterback B.J. Daniels, who spent last season with the Houston Texans and Seattle Seahawks, is also trying out.