New York Giants fans can breathe a sigh of relief. The Giants defense, already reeling from injuries to safety Xavier McKinney and linebacker David Mayo, got good news on Sunday when linebacker Blake Martinez returned to practice.
Signed in the offseason to quarterback the defense, Martinez missed practice on Thursday and was held out of Friday’s Blue-White Scrimmage. Coach Joe Judge had said he was “not overly concerned” about Martinez, and now the veteran linebacker is back to work. Media on hand said the only evidence of anything with Martinez was a thin wrap below his right knee.
“He’s fully healed, he’s ready to go,” said head coach Joe Judge. “It was good to have him back out there with us.”
Other injury notes:
Cornerback Darnay Holmes, who had a “lower body injury” in Friday’s scrimmage, was back at practice. Spencer Pulley, who sat out a few practices last week, was also back on the field. Rookies Rysen John and Jaquarius Landrews were on the side.
Reviewing the Blue-White Scrimmage
Judge said players had “good energy and juice” on Friday and that “it felt like a game.” His primary concern, considering the lack of spring practice, the shortened training camp and the lack of preseason play is game readiness.
“I’m pleased with the effort our guys played with. Obviously there’s some things to correct and clean up,” Judge said. “Our No. 1 focus right now is we have to improve our football conditioning. To be honest, our guys have practiced extremely hard, they’ve done everything they’ve been asked to. The reality is there just hasn’t been an opportunity to build to a full game’s length conditioning.”
Judge was asked about the starting offensive only netting a field goal in five drives.
“I thought they did a good job stringing some drives together,” Judge said. “There’s a lot of restrictions we put on the team in how we had to play the game and the tempo of the half. That eliminates a lot of what you can do on both sides of the ball.
“We understood that going in as a coaching staff. We knew what we were looking for. I came out very encouraged.”
The Giants have only three more practices and one 90-minute Blue-White Scrimmage before they have to set their initial 53-man roster. Judge said Sunday that the Giants as an organization spent roughly six hours on Saturday, a day off for players, discussing the roster.
“At this point there’s a lot of things that can happen. There’s a lot of guys who have left strong impressions,” Judge said. “We want to make sure we take advantage of our remaining time to give everyone a fair shot to make sure we don’t oversee someone’s ability and make an assumption too quick.”
Offensive line play
Judge had several interesting things to say about the play of the offensive line during the scrimmage. Here are some of them:
- “I thought Nick Gates did a good job in the middle commanding the calls and getting everyone on the same page. I thought he played with a lot of toughness.”
- “I thought the tackles did a decent job and there were other times our defense was able to mix up some different looks and create pressure.”
- “I thought [Will] Hernandez and [Kevin] Zeitler did a good job playing physical. That showed up with Shane Lemieux. I was pleased with how Matt Peart and Eric Smith played on the edges.”
- “Tyler Haycraft had a large load the other night, did a decent job in there handling it. Especially with the mental and the changeups our defense gave him with different looks. That’s always a key thing for the center position, to be the smart guy who steers everyone on the same page.”