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‘Valentine’s Views:’ Deciding to attend practice, and more Giants-related thoughts

Some things I’m thinking about as Giants’ training camp enters a new phase

Jack Tumen/

The New York Giants practice in full pads for the first time on Monday. That is the beginning of Phase 3 of this unique training camp, when football practice really becomes football practice. It will be the first day media members, at least a few given access under stringent guidelines, will be allowed to witness practice. While, of course, socially distancing from designated spots and wearing masks.

Big Blue View is one of 10 or 12 outlets that has been granted daily access, something I’m proud of because it speaks to the quality of the work we have done here for more than 13 years.

I will be at Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Monday, temperature check permitting. Making that trip and putting myself in that environment is not a decision I made lightly.

As of Thursday, I’m a 60-year-old man. That puts me not in but close to the COVID-19 high-risk age group. My wife and I have not been complete hermits the past few months — we go to the store, we go to our camp in the Adirondack Mountains, we went to Lake George Village in the Adirondacks to celebrate our 35th anniversary. We go to pick up food. I play golf, alone except for a couple of outings with my sons. We have, though, been as careful as possible in any setting we find ourselves in.

My wife isn’t thrilled with my decision to attend as many practices as I can. Which means as many as I’m healthy for and as many as I can stand to drive 290 miles round trip for.

This, though, is my job. I worked hard to gain access and credibility that, I hope, makes Big Blue View a cut above any other site of this kind. Seeing on-field work with my own eyes, even if interviews with coaches and players will still be conducted via videoconference, makes my work and this site better.

At least I hope it does.

Judge rules

In talking to players last week, it was pretty apparent that a Bill Belichick “don’t tell ‘em anything” approach has been hammered into the heads of players by Joe Judge, who spent the last several years working for Belichick.

Ask players about injuries and they are almost apologetic in their answer. They will also tell you exactly why they can’t tell you anything.

Hey, Evan Engram, will you be full-go after your foot surgery when padded practices start?

“We’re not allowed to get into the details, that’s a Coach Judge rule. I’m out there with my teammates, I’m running around doing good, trying to get better each and every day.”

Hey, Leonard Williams, can you tell us how you hurt your hamstring?

“We can’t really talk about injuries. If somebody wants to get more information on that, you might have to bring it up with Coach Judge or someone else on the team.”

As annoying as that might be when you want/need information fans might like to have, it’s obvious the players know who is calling the shots and what he wants. That’s a good thing.

Ross Cockrell situation

The Giants wanted to sign veteran cornerback Ross Cockrell to bolster that depleted position. Word got out they were trying to make that happen. Giants’ fans got excited. A good player was being added!

Then, it didn’t happen. The two sides couldn’t agree on a contract, and Cockrell didn’t become a Giant.

The natural reaction? Blame GM Dave Gettleman, of course. The Giants’ often-belittled GM had to do something wrong. Right? Gettleman screwed up! Otherwise, Cockrell would be a Giant.

This comment was typical of what I saw here and in the Big Blue View Twitter timeline:

Stop it already!

Nobody knows what happened or why, except for those who were involved in the negotiations. It’s likely the two sides thought they were in the same contractual ballpark when they began the negotiating and testing process.

Eventually, they found out they weren’t. Maybe Cockrell wanted more money or more years than the Giants felt was prudent. We don’t know. To automatically assume Gettleman screwed this up is hating just to hate.

Is it really worth getting all upset about Ross Cockrell? He wasn’t going to make the difference between the Giants winning or losing the Super Bowl. It would, of course, be nice to add a good player to the 2020 roster. Remember, though, the smart long-term play is to conserve as much salary cap space as possible for next offseason, when the cap could go down by roughly $23 million.

Maybe the Giants should actually be getting credit for not overspending for a short-term fix.

Tyke Tolbert’s human reminder

The life of an NFL coach, especially an assistant coach, can be a vagabond one. The head coach you work for gets fired, you get fired. That means most NFL assistant coaches bounce from team to team, needing to find a new employer and a new home every few seasons.

Giants’ wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert has worked for the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Denver Broncos and Giants since 2003. That means he has had to pack up and move his family every few seasons.

Tolbert was originally hired by Pat Shurmur in 2018. On Thursday, he put a human spin on what it meant to him to have Judge bring him back to the Giants’ staff.

“Very fortunate to not have to move my daughter for her senior year,” Tolbert said.

That’s just a reminder that these players and coaches have families and there are real-life consequences when they get uprooted.