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Giants begin padded practices: 5 things to look for

Finally! Read on-field work

Matthew Swensen/

During a normal NFL training camp we would have already seen roughly three weeks of full, on-field work and the New York Giants would have one preseason game under their belts at this point. Instead, Monday we will see the first full padded practice of Giants training camp, and media will get to witness on-field work for the first time in 2020.

“They’re going to be moving fast, we’re going to be intent, we’re going to have an intensity in how we work. When the padded practices start on Monday, it will reduce to a 90-minute practice per league rules,” coach Joe Judge said. “We’re going to build everyone to make sure that now that we’re in pads, we can execute with the right fundamentals to play aggressive but safe. At all positions, receiver, d-line, it doesn’t matter. When the pads go on, you have to see intensity ramp up.”

Here are a few things to look for.

Offensive line

To start with, the only thing that really makes sense is for No. 4 overall pick Andrew Thomas to be the left tackle. Joe Judge, Jason Garrett and Marc Colombo aren’t going to tell us that. Even if we see it we can’t tell you directly because of rules governing what media can and cannot report about practices.

Let’s just figure, though, that the real decision for the Giants is going to be whether Nick Gates starts at center or right tackle. Colombo was effusive enough in his praise of Gates on Friday that it makes me think he has a real shot at the center job.

Daniel Jones’ progress/comfort

Jones will be entering his second year, and learning his second NFL offense. We know there is going to be a learning curve, and that every mistake he made as a rookie isn’t going to magically disappear. All I want to see is whether he looks comfortable and decisive during the team periods.

Cornerback picture

James Bradberry will handle one spot, even though the Giants are loathe to admit as much. The rest is a mystery.

Will Corey Ballentine grab a starting role? Where will fourth-round pick Darnay Holmes fit? Is seventh-round pick Chris Williamson a factor? Can undrafted Christian Angulo force his way into the conversation? Could Julian Love or even Jabrill Peppers play a little cornerback? Will the Giants work the waiver wire or free agency market for help?

Camps are structured such that there is a lot of passing, so we should get some clues about who the frontrunners are.

Rookies who stand out

This will be the media’s first opportunity to Giants’ rookies on the field. It’s usually not all that difficult once you see them in practice to figure out who is getting it and who isn’t, who has a chance to contribute quickly and who looks like a deer in the headlights.

The Giants need first-round pick Thomas and second-round pick Xavier McKinney to be solid contributors from the get-go. It won’t take long to figure out the chances of that happening.

How many of the Day 3 picks can contribute? Can Darney Holmes win regular snaps? Can any of the edge guys or linebackers force their way into playing time?

What a Joe Judge practice looks like

NFL practices have a rhythm. Stretching, individual work, position work, then some mix of team periods and position work or positional walk-through periods that are installation or technique-based.

Within those periods, though, there are always unique twists. Different drills. Different ways players are broken up. Different scenarios presented. I have now watched practices conducted by Tom Coughlin, Ben McAdoo and Pat Shurmur. Each had facets that made them different.

I still miss Coughlin yelling “Bands!” at the end of each practice to signify a cool-down stretch. Shurmur had a habit of, at some point during practice, presenting his team with a game situation they didn’t know was coming and seeing how they reacted to it.

What twists will a Judge practice have? I’m anxious to find out.