The New York Giants concluded their week of joint practices with the Detroit Lions Thursday morning. Unlike previous practices, these were not hard-fought or fast paced — both because of weather concerns as well as making sure the players “have their legs” for Friday night’s preseason game.
After practice, head coach Pat Shurmur spoke to the media about topics ranging from injured players, to situational football, to Davis Webb.
On situational football
Rather than having an off day before Friday night’s game, the Giants and Lions engaged in a two-thirds speed “jog through” practice — or at least tried to, as the weather permitted.
“Good situational work today,” Shurmur said. “We got some special teams, we actually shortened what we planned to train a little bit, but we got through some good situational work really to cap off what I think was a really, really good week. Very competitive. As I mentioned all week, it’s always good to go against another team and now we’ll try to get their legs back, get them ready to go and get after it tomorrow night.”
But just because the last practice was over, doesn’t mean that the work is done until kick-off Friday night. Shurmur and the Giants still had work to do, namely identifying and correcting errors from the day’s practice.
Shurmur said, “We’re going to go back and we’re going to dig into it and make sure that we’re ready for all the situations. We were really good with what we did today, but there’s a couple errors in there that we need to fix.”
Pointedly, he referenced a mental mistake made by Davis Webb at the end of the first half against the Cleveland Browns.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever spoken about it in this setting, but there needs to be a shared situational awareness among our coaches and players so that when we have 10 seconds left and no timeouts, these are the types of plays we’re going to call and if we’re on the flip side of it, this is the type of situation and are these the types of plays the other team is going to call. So, that can help you at the end of a game.”
On injured players
With players like Saquon Barkley, Darian Thompson, and Connor Barwin on the side dealing with injury, Shurmur was asked whether or not those players wasted their time in Detroit.
“No, not at all,” he said. “That’s a good question, but no. Anything you see, you can learn from, and this isn’t the first time a guy tweaked a hamstring. So, no, it’s very important to watch. There were a lot of things that happened out there on the field today. We’re going to go back and we’re going to dig into it and make sure that we’re ready for all the situations.”
It seems likely that the players who spent the time in Detroit working on the side won’t play Friday night, but Shurmur wouldn’t commit to saying one way or the other.
“We’ll have to see,” Shurmur said. “You guys can all guess and surmise as to who’s going to be in the game. As we go along here, I’m just not going to talk about it. I have ideas and plans, and certainly the health of a player may affect that at some point.”
Likewise, he wouldn’t commit to whether or not Odell Beckham Jr. would play, saying, “I’ve got a plan, so it will get revealed tomorrow night.”
On roster building
“We want to keep the best 53 guys. Dave (Gettleman) teases me that I’m a body collector. I like having lots of players around, and certainly I think the quarterback position is important, and they’re hard to develop, so if you’ve got a guy worthy of being on the 53, we’ll keep him,” Shurmur said. “If for some reason there’s a player in another position that’s more valuable at that time, then you keep two.”
As happened last year, the league will have one massive cut-down day after the fourth preseason game, instead of first cutting down to 75 players between the third and fourth games.
“Personnel is a daily, constant conversation,” he added, when asked when the personnel decision is made. “We’re always kind of in our mind thinking, we ask the question frequently during training camp, ‘if we had to play tomorrow, who are our guys?’ But you put it in pencil and we’re allowed to change our minds, because guys either perform better or worse than we thought as we go through the preseason, and then you pick it based on that.”
On Davis Webb
The Giants, and their fans, were dismayed to see Davis Webb have a terrible game against the Cleveland Browns. He settled down to complete six of his last eight passes, but overall he had one of the worst performances of any quarterback in the first week of the preseason. However, Shurmur has faith that he will improve in his second game out.
“Yeah,” he said, “I think young players tend to improve. It was his first time in our system, playing really in a new system. So yeah, I certainly hope he’s better.”
After the game, Webb and Shurmur both blamed high emotion and excitement for his lack of control with the football. Part of being a coach is recognizing that different players respond differently.
“As coaches, we try to do that, and the fact that he cares is a good thing”, Shurmur said. “It’s just like steering a ship, we’ve just got to guide him through and part of that is helping him, just reminding him, ‘hey listen, just settle down, it’s all good’. Nothing more complicated than that.”
Reporters noted that Webb got a number of reps with the starting offense in joint practices, and asked if that was part of his game plan for the week.
“We’ll see,” Shurmur said. “You’re backing into my thoughts game-wise. I appreciate the question, but we’ll see.”