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Giants mini-camp observations, Day 2: Kadarius Toney has full practice, coordinators speak, more

What happened on the second day of mini-camp for the Giants

Syndication: The Record
Darius Slayton
Danielle Parhizkaran/ via Imagn Content Services, LLC

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants concluded their second day of mandatory mini-camp on Wednesday. Here are some observations.

Kadarius survives!

First-round pick Kadarius Toney made it through Wednesday’s workout without incident. No cleats that didn’t fit. No slips that caused him to leave practice early. No reasons for not practicing at all.

Toney appeared to have a good day. He caught a decent number of passes, including a long one from Mike Glennon. Progress from the youngster.

Special teams coach Thomas McGaughey had some interesting things to say about Toney, who was an explosive punt returner at Florida.

McGaughey called him “electric” with the ball in his hands, said he has “unique traits” and “extreme talent.”

But ...

“Right now he just has to get in here with all the rest of the rookies and get acclimated to what we do and how we do it. You saw his tape in college. You know his ability and what he can do with the ball in his hands, but right now he just needs to get in here and gain the trust of his teammates. That job as a punt returner in this league, that’s a huge job and huge responsibility. That’s the main focus right now,” McGaughey said.

“He’s a good young player that needs to understand what it takes to be a pro, and you know, just learning how to operate as a pro. But he definitely does have extreme talent. We’ve all seen that.”

Other participation notes

I won’t call these injury notes, since the Giants aren’t telling us what is or is not injury-related.

Wide receiver John Ross was practicing Wednesday after missing Tuesday’s workout. Kelvin Benjamin was also taking part after leaving Tuesday’s workout early. As for whether Benjamin is a wide receiver or a tight end, who knows? He did some work Wednesday at both positions.

I did not spot linebackers Ryan Anderson and Cam Brown on the field Wednesday.

Coordinators speak

Jason Garrett: Self-scouting

The Giants’ offensive coordinator was asked what he learned while self-scouting what the Giants did on offense a year ago, when they finished a dismal 31st in the league.

“I think every year you go back and evaluate what you did and how you did it and ways you can do things better. Sometimes you say, ‘hey, we like how we do it that way’. Other times you say, ‘hey, we’ve got to teach that differently or come up with a new thought or a new idea’. I think that’s just part of the process and that’s how you grow and evolve as an individual coach and as a unit and ultimately as a team,” Garrett said. “We go through that process really every year and that’s the process we went through this past year. There’s some good things that we did.”

Garrett said he was pleased that the Giants cut down from 33 turnovers in 2019, which was 31st in the league, to 22 last season.

“The biggest issue with this team going into last year was obviously the turnovers. Over the last couple years, really just not giving the team enough of a chance to win, when you’re down 31, 32 on turnovers and turnover ratio and the early part of the year we didn’t do a very good job of that. We continued that trend. If you look at us in the latter part of the year, we did a better job taking care of football and winning the turnover ratio, and that gave us a chance to win games down the stretch. That was a positive thing for our team,” Garrett said. “We certainly have to build on that and we have to become more explosive on offense, make big plays and score more points and that’s a process we are going through. I do think young guys playing, give them a chance to get some experience, they grow as a result of that. We had a lot of young guys playing last year. I thought they got better as they went on. They will learn from that experience and continue to grow. We also have a couple new guys that we’re adding to the mix to try to get them acclimated as quickly as we can and continue to grow day-by-day.”

Patrick Graham: Saying no

Defensive coordinator Patrick said no to an interview with the Jets. He also said no to a whole lot of unhealthy food choices this offseason, dropping considerable weight.

On the Jets’ opportunity:

“You know, any time opportunities present themselves, you’re excited. Again, has a lot less to do with me and more the guys, the players here, we played decent defense as the year went on, a lot of room to grow. To me, the Giants, this is my dream job to be here as the defensive coordinator for the New York Giants. So I’m just happy to be here. I don’t know, it’s nothing against them or anything. I’m just happy to be a New York Giant. Goes back to my days at Notre Dame with (Giants Co-Director of Player Personnel) Tim McDonnell when I knew him, a lot of my mentors, the people that I learned football from had connection with the New York Giants. That’s important to me. I happen to be here working with one of my friends, Joe Judge and I’ve got a great group of guys to work with and a great group of coaches and players. I mean, these guys, our coaches on defense, these guys are top-notch. Who wouldn’t want to have that work environment. That’s why I like it.”

On his noticeable weight loss:

Even via Zoom, you can see there is much less of Graham than there was at the end of last season.

“That was my heaviest at the end of last year in my whole life, so I had to look in the mirror and get that thing fixed. Thankfully (Craig) Fitz (Fitzgerald), our strength coach, is helping me out in the mornings. Some days I skip; he’s on me. The dietician here, Steve (Smith), he’s doing a good job helping me out. I don’t want to give an advertisement but I’m doing the stationary bike thing, so that’s working out at home. Just trying to show some discipline for a change outside of the office. Show some discipline sitting at a table a little bit. Be a good example for the players.”

Glad to be back

It was obvious from the wide smile on his face throughout his Zoom call with reporters that offensive tackle Nate Solder, who opted out of last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is happy to be back playing football. He even seemed happy to be talking to reporters, something that has never been his forte.

“It was interesting [being away], and I thought about it, it was the first time I had a break since middle school, so I didn’t even know that fall existed outside of a football locker room. It was a nice little break and I needed it mentally and physically, and that’s been really a wonderful break that I got to have and spend time with my family which was nice,” Solder said.

“One of the great things about coming back is just the opportunity to work with a group of guys. Who cares who starts. I just want to be a part of an excellent group that’s getting better every day that plays at a really high level and I’ve been fortunate enough to play with some great O-Lines, and whoever cares, nobody cares who is starting and who is not starting because we’re all part of the team and we’re all necessary and we’re all needed. So, if I can encourage, protect, guide, lead and compete, whatever it takes, I’m here to do it.”

Practice observations

Much like Tuesday, there really weren’t a lot of competitive aspects to practice.

  • The offensive line remained unchanged. From left to right that was Andrew Thomas, Shane Lemieux, Nick Gates, Will Hernandez and Matt Peart. Nate Solder took a handful of reps at both tackle spots.
  • I am reading precisely nothing into this, but it was interesting to see fourth-round pick Elerson Smith lined up opposite Lorenzo Carter with the first team during a couple of offense-defense practice periods on Wednesday.
  • It’s not easy to make Dexter Lawrence look small, but new nose tackle Danny Shelton manages it. This guy is so wide I think he can two-gap without moving.
  • Rysen John, the former Division II wide receiver who spent last season on the practice squad learning the tight end position, has looked comfortable over the past couple of days. Again, don’t read a ton into a few balls caught while practicing in shorts with defenders not going all out, but John doesn’t look out of place at all.
  • This may not be of interest to anyone other than the media that covers the Giants, but long-time Newsday NFL columnist Bob Glauber received the 2021 Career Achievement Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).