EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Which plays told the story of Friday’s training camp practice for the New York Giants? Let’s take a look.
Big Blue View still has some quicks
Yours truly turns 58 in less than two weeks. I’ve torn my Achilles twice. I’ve had back surgery. It’s 40 years now since I was co-captain of my high school basketball team.
But, I’ve still got the quicks. At least when I’m scared to death!
The Giants practiced on the back field at Quest Diagnostics Training Center, which put media closer to players than an any other time. During a passing drill, yours truly had a close encounter with wide receiver Kalif Raymond.
Catching an out from Kyle Lauletta, Raymond was off balance and came hurtling to the sideline — right at me. I scooted quickly to my left, barely getting out of Raymond’s way and drawing some good-natured kidding from my media cohorts.
So, yeah, I’ve still got the moves.
Even corners can’t cover Saquon
On Thursday, we saw the Giants line Saquon Barkley up wide to the left of the formation to try and cause a mismatch. Friday, in 7-on-7, we saw it again. This time, though. Barkley drew cornerback Janoris Jenkins in man coverage.
The result? An easy completion. Barkley jabbed to the outside, spun Jenkins around and cut quickly to the inside to catch a quick slant from Eli Manning.
That just gives you an idea how difficult it will be for linebackers to cover the rooking running back, who coach Pat Shurmur on Thursday said reminds him of Brian Westbrook as a receiver.
Evan Engram and the dropsies
Rookie tight end Evan Engram led all tight ends with 11 drops last season. Shurmur said Thursday “it is important we catch the football.” Tight ends coach Lunda Wells said earlier in the week the Giants have been emphasizing catch fundamentals with the 2017 first-round pick.
Engram has dropped a couple of balls during camp. Friday, he dropped what should have been a long touchdown.
With Manning flushed out of the pocket to his right, he heaved a pass deep downfield to Engram, who was behind safety William Gay. This was an easy touchdown and, quite honestly, a fantastic deep throw from Manning on the run that hit Engram right in the chest.
Easy touchdown. Except, he didn’t catch it.
After practice Engram was catching extra balls using the JUGS machine.
The drops have to be a concern. For Engram to be the weapon he can be for the Giants, they have to stop.
The Webb of intrigue
Quarterback Davis Webb threw an interception to cornerback B.W. Webb on Thursday. He threw another one to him on Friday, this time with the cornerback reading a throw intended for Russell Shepard and making a nice play.
Webb, who has played in 49 NFL games with 10 starts, is one of the corners vying for a spot on the 53-man roster.
“I think he’s competitive. I think he gets his hands on balls,” Shurmur said. “I’m very fond of any player that can catch, which he’s displayed the ability to do. He’s really shown us that he knows how to play corner.”
Webb threw another interception later in practice, firing a pass right to inside linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong. That’s three interceptions thrown by the second-year quarterback in two days.
Maybe I can outrun Eli
Many days after practice, Giants quarterbacks run sideline-to-sideline sprints. Running them on Friday, the 37-year-old Manning was lagging well behind Webb, 23, Lauletta, 23 and Alex Tanney, 30. By about the fourth pass, Manning was nearly a full sideline behind. Words, in fact, don’t do justice to how hilariously far behind his younger teammates Manning was.
Considering the quickness I displayed in avoiding Raymond, maybe I should challenge Manning to a race.
Veteran cornerback William Gay has been spending some time at safety, and with Curtis Riley (hamstring) still sidelined he was there for a significant number of snaps on Friday.
“I think we’re trying to make sure we do what’s best in the secondary,” Shurmur said. “We still feel like he could play corner, but we also feel like we want to take a look at him at safety and see if he can give us something there.”
Unfortunately, Gay, who has never missed a game in 11 NFL seasons, ended practice with an ice pack on his right hamstring.
Shurmur, in fact said that the Giants have reached a point in training camp where he wants to see players move around a bit. Damon Harrison took some snaps Friday at defensive end, Chad Wheeler has moved from right to left tackle, John Jerry has taken some right tackle snaps.
“After the first week, where they kind of groove themselves in pads in the spots where they’re at by design the next couple of weeks we see if they can play multiple positions,” Shurmur said.
The Giants end each practice by working on a different situation. Before each of those sessions begins Shurmur gathers the entire team to go over the situation that will be practiced.
Friday’s situation? Complete a pass, and with time running out, get the field goal time on and get a kick off before time expires.
Shurmur admitted Friday that the situation being practiced can be a surprise — even to the assistant coaches.
“Sometimes [it’s a surprise], sometimes not,” Shurmur said. “Today I was just telling ‘em OK, here’s the scenario. There’s 22 seconds left, it’s third-and-15, the ball’s at this spot, we’re gonna complete a pass, it’s not past the first-down marker so we’ve gotta run the field goal on.
“There are some times when I surprise them with the situation so that the coaches then have to respond to it.”
No pads today
After five straight practices in pads, the Giants were in shells on Friday.
“It’s important that you play the game in pads,” Shurmur said. “There’s certain guys that run really fast and all of a sudden you put a helmet and shoulder pads and some of that restrictive gear and they can’t keep that. Plus that’s the only way to see, except for going to the ground, how a guy might respond.”
After practice there were more Giants players remaining on the field to do extra work on their own than I can remember since I started covering camps in 2007. The last two players on the field were long-snapper Zak DeOssie and Jordan Williams, with DeOssie appearing to be helping Williams as he tries to master the long-snapping art.
“I think it’s good, especially when older players are helping younger players,” Shurmur said. “It shows me that they care.”
- Riley and Donte Deayon (hamstring) continued to sit out practice.
- The Giants held free agent workouts after practice. Media wasn’t allowed to witness those, but it appeared that the workout featured defensive backs and defensive linemen. Former Pro Bowler Alterraun Verner was reportedly one of the corners who worked out for the Giants.
- Saturday’s Giants practice will be closed to the public. Media will be in attendance for the 2:45 p.m. ET practice.
- There is only one public practice remaining in training camp. That will be Tuesday at 10:45 a.m.