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Mini-camp takeaways, Day 1: Competition, and a QB with wheels

Daniel Jones shows off running ability, more takeaways from Tuesday’s practice

NFL: New York Giants-Minicamp
Kyle Lauletta throws to Reggie White Jr. early in Tuesday’s practice.
Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Day 1 of mandatory mini-camp is in the books for the New York Giants. Here are some of the takeaways from Tuesday’s workout.

Daniel Jones flashes the wheels

The rookie quarterback is often compared to Eli Manning, but the Giants don’t run the read option with the slow-footed 38-year-old Manning. They did on Tuesday with the sixth overall pick, who ran for 1,323 yards and 17 touchdowns at Duke.

Jones didn’t disappoint, keeping the ball, turning the corner and going for a long run. Touchdown? No touchdown? Who knows? With the red jersey on no defender could touch him. Still, the run got enthusiastic whoops from his offensive teammates.

“Oh man, he pulled that thing and picked the knees up. He looked good,” said wide receiver Sterling Shepard.

“He got himself out into space pretty quickly,” said head coach Pat Shurmur. “He obviously moves around well. He’s down there around 4.6 ... he can move around.”

But, how’d he do throwing the ball?

I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow practice description, but Jones made some nice throws. He threw a “wow” deep ball to undrafted wide receiver Reggie White Jr. at one point, and had several nice connections with veteran receiver Cody Latimer. He also airmailed a couple of throws.

In general, my observation of Jones has consistently been that he has plenty of arm strength to get the job done. He showed that Tuesday on the deep ball to White and also on a couple of sideline throws. The concern is in what Mark Schofield might call “processing speed.” There are times when he appears indecisive, taking an extra hop or giving the ball an extra pat before letting it go. The hope has to be that as he learns the playbook and gains experience against NFL defenders that bit of indecision goes away.

Jabrill Peppers brings energy ... and trash talk

Odell Beckham Jr. used to be the “energy guy” for the Giants on the practice field — dancing, messing with teammates, keeping the excitement up. Who would fill that void with Beckham now a member of the Cleveland Browns? Turns out, one of the guys stepping into that void is the player acquired for Beckham — safety Jabrill Peppers.

“Just seeing if I can get in guys heads,” Peppers said of the on-field trash talk with teammates. “I know how defenses play the game, so if they’re used to it in practice they’ll be used to it in a game.

“Competition brings the best out of everybody.”

Peppers said he always wants to bring energy to the field.

“No matter how hard the days get, we don’t gotta do it, we get to do it,” Peppers said of playing football. “There’s a lot of guys who would love to have this opportunity.”

Shurmur loves the competitiveness of practice

The Giants are in short and, theoretically, there is no contact during these practices. There were big plays on both offense and defense Tuesday, though, and Shurmur was pleased that practice was “very competitive, very spirited.”

“It needs to be competitive,” Shurmur said. “If one side of the ball is making all the plays I don’t know what kind of team you have.

“When the quarterbacks are trying to be aggressive with the ball and the defense is getting their hands on balls and both sides of the ball are making plays and competing that’s a good thing.”

“We don’t accept mistakes”

The Giants have a youthful, inexperienced defense that can be expected to make some mistakes along the way. Shurmur doesn’t want to hear about accepting that the young players will make mistakes.

“We have made a lot of changes the last year and a half and a lot of the guys we have added are young. They have fresh legs and are good players. They are spirited guys that are out there competing. We are just going to go out there and play ball, see what happens,” Shurmur said.

“We don’t accept mistakes, but we understand at times they happen. The mindset here, regardless of how old you are and how experienced you are, is listen, you play fast with no anxiety, you make a mistake, you admit it and you find a way to correct it and move on fast. That is the message for the guy that has played plenty of years, just like it is the message for the guy that just got here.”

About that competition

There were the aforementioned big plays to White and Latimer. Backup quarterback Alex Tanney completed a couple of nice deep balls, one to rookie Darius Slayton and one to Bennie Fowler. Manning threw an excellent deep ball to tight end Rhett Ellison, who had a step on Grant Haley.

The defense had its moments, too. Jones, Lauletta and Eli Manning all had passes intercepted during the day. Lauletta was picked clean by linebacker B.J. Goodson during a half-line passing drill. Manning and Jones were intercepted on tipped balls.

Evan Engram heads injured list

Third-year tight end Evan Engram had a full sleeve on his left leg and did not practice. He was one of several players riding stationary bikes at the beginning of the day. Shurmur said Engram is “just a little sore, he’s fine. He’ll be ready to go here soon.”

Also not practicing were defensive lineman Olsen Pierre, left tackle Nate Solder, right tackle Mike Remmers, tight end/quarterback Eric Dungey, wide receiver Brittan Golden and safety Sean Chandler. Remmers worked inside for a while and Solder did some drills with a trainer. Edge rusher Markus Golden did individual drills but was held out of the 11-on-11 portions of practice.

“Nobody long term,” Shurmur said. “We feel good about having everybody back here very soon and definitely by the time we start (training) camp.”

A few other observations

  • Undrafted rookie punter Ryan Anderson probably isn’t taking a job away from Riley Dixon. The left-footed Anderson is impressive, though, and it wouldn’t surprise if he finds work somewhere in the league during the 2019 season.
  • First-round picks Dexter Lawrence (defensive end) and DeAndre Baker (cornerback) worked with the first team. Baker didn’t make any splash plays, but he always seemed to be in position even when balls were completed in his direction.
  • With Solder and Remmers still not practicing, Brian Mihalik and Chad Wheeler continued at left and right tackle, respectively.
  • Running back Paul Perkins, on IR (pectoral) last year, was the No. 2 running back on Tuesday. He caught several passes and appeared to have a nice day.
  • Linebacker Tae Davis took first-team reps in nickel packages.

What’s next?

Mini-camp will continue on Wednesday and Thursday. Practices both days are scheduled to begin at 10:10 a.m. ET.

The Giants will hold their remaining OTAs next week, then be off until training camp begins.