FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Wednesday was a good news, bad news kind of day for the New York Giants as they held their first of two joint practices with the New England Patriots.
The Giants made some highlight plays, and some lowlight ones. They got tight end Kyle Rudolph back from his foot injury. They lost cornerback Adoree’ Jackson to an ankle injury, with his status for Week 1 apparently in doubt.
Let’s go through some of the takeaways.
Adoree’ Jackson goes down
Jackson was defending a deep ball from Mac Jones to Jakobi Meyers at the front left corner of the end zone when he went down.
NFL insider Ian Rapoport reported Jackson has “significant swelling” in his left ankle and pending further tests his status for Week 1 vs. the Denver Broncos Jackson is expected to “rest up for Week 1.” Art Stapleton reported that the Giants are “cautiously optimistic” Jackson won’t miss significant time.
The information I have at this point indicates that the Giants are optimistic Jackson will be available vs. the Broncos.
In the meantime, the injury leaves the Giants with an issue at cornerback opposite James Bradberry.
The Giants traded last year’s primary starter at the second cornerback spot, Isaac Yiadom to the Green Bay Packers last week for cornerback Josh Jackson. They also traded for cornerback Keion Crossen last week. Neither of those guys played defense vs. the Cleveland Browns last weekend, and I didn’t notice them on defense Wednesday vs. the Patriots.
Rookie sixth-round pick Rodarius Williams has been impressive since training camp began, but he has given up 10 completions in 13 targets over two preseason games, and a starting role for him is likely too much too soon.
The play of the other backup cornerbacks, Sam Beal and Madre Harper, has not inspired confidence. Rookie third-round pick Aaron Robinson remains on PUP.
Kyle Rudolph returns
Rudolph came off the PUP list on Wednesday and took part in his first practice as a Giant. In his 11th NFL season and first with a team other than the Minnesota Vikings, Rudolph said it felt “damn good” to participate in football for the first time since December.
Rudolph did individual drills on Wednesday. He did not promise that he wold be ready Week 1.
“I’m just going to keep working every day, chipping away at it,” Rudolph said.
- Full story on Rudolph’s return to the Giants coming later.
Some early walk thru work pic.twitter.com/Qf6scKIdJH— Big Blue View (@bigblueview) August 25, 2021
Some good, some bad for offense
The Giants offense started the practice pretty well, and ended it pretty well. In between was another story.
In all honesty, there were times early in practice where the Giant offense was on one field and the defense on the other. It’s likely that I missed a play here and there.
In an initial 7-on-7 red zone period I saw Jones throw touchdown passes to Kaden Smith and Evan Engram.
In two red zone drills at the end of practice, Jones went 8 of 11 and appeared to throw touchdown passes to Sterling Shepard, Kaden Smith and Jake Hausmann.
There were a couple of drops by reserve tight ends Nakia Griffin-Stewart and Hausmann. Jones threw a bad interception when he forced a ball toward Darius Slayton into double coverage, and New England’s Kyle Duggar made an easy pick.
The Giants broke out the zone read, and Jones had a couple of carries during the practice — one of which might have turned into a nice gain.
The downfield passing game was pretty non-existent for the Giants. Most of their completions were underneath, and their downfield shots fell incomplete.
Unofficially, Jones went 24 of 37 with an interception. That seems to be the consensus number among Giants writers in attendance.
“Made some plays. Didn’t do some things great,” Jones said after practice. “That’s the way practice is sometimes.
“I thought we made some plays. We made some plays down in the red zone. We moved the ball alright in the two-minute, but some things we’ve got to clean up and plays we’ve got to look at and correct going forward.
One thing that was notable: Jones and the first-team offense took a heavy percentage of the reps. Far more than earlier in camp. Third-team quarterback Brian Lewerke never saw action.
Mac Jones had a good day
To be honest, I was focused mostly on the Giants’ offense. It wasn’t hard, though, to notice that New England rookie quarterback Mac Jones had an excellent day. There were very few incomplete passes by the Patriots, and only one ball that was really thrown into harm’s way. On that, wide receiver Gunner Olszewski snatched it out of the air just a millisecond before Jabrill Peppers got there.
Here is a note from The Athletic about Jones:
New England Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones dazzled during a joint practice with the New York Giants on Wednesday, taking advantage of his opportunity with the starters as Cam Newton remains absent.
Jones opened practice by going 25 of 27 against the Giants’ starting defense, including a string of 18 consecutive completions before the streak ended on a pass that was tipped at the line. He also tossed back-to-back touchdowns at one point.
A skirmish, of course
During a drill early in practice that had Patriot offensive linemen working against Giant defensive linemen there was a skirmish. There are varying accounts of who was involved, but I believe the Giant in the middle of it was Leonard Williams. He is the Giants player who came out of the pile with his helmet off, looking angry.
Notably, position groups for BOTH teams had to run a lap — or, more precisely, part of a lap — after that.
Running the hill
The Giants always do a conditioning run at the end of practice. Wednesday, they ran the hill on the back practice field, affectionately — or not so affectionately — called Patriot Hill.
“Different, it’s different,” said tight end Evan Engram. “I had a hill in pee wee days that we used to run after practice, so that was going down memory lane a little bit, but it was good work.”
Judge acknowledges Tom Coughlin
Former Giants coach Tom Coughlin went public on Tuesday with news about the deteriorating health of his wife, Judy, and the fact that he is now her primary caregiver. Wednesday, Joe Judge offered his support to Coughlin.
“What Coach Coughlin has done for the organization, for his players, obviously speaks volumes. You know he’s even taken it further with those dearest to him and his wife, so anything we can do to support the family, as he’s supported the organization, we always will. I’ll say that. Then obviously Coach Coughlin has been great for me, personally, so anything he ever needs from me, I’ll be here for him,” Judge said.
Video view of Patriots practice facility. pic.twitter.com/JpjP214axD— Big Blue View (@bigblueview) August 25, 2021
Saquon will be back Thursday
Judge said that Saquon Barkley, excused for a personal matter on Wednesday, will return Thursday. Barkley, per Judge, will practice with a red, non-contact jersey on.
Judge did acknowledge that he wants, in some type of controlled fashion, to get Barkley hit before he puts him in a game this season.
“I think every player has to have physical contact and experience the hits they’re going to take in a game before it becomes live, full speed in the regular season. The reality of the nature is, the speed of the game increases from preseason to regular season to postseason. That’s just what happens. For us to put a player on the field without preparing him either through practice or preseason games without contact, we’re putting that player in danger and at a disservice,” Judge said.
“The reality is when you go out there in Denver, Washington, Atlanta, that’s live bullets now. They’re flying around. They’re trying to hit our players as hard as they can, as we are to them, make good form tackles and end a play. So, the best thing you can do for your players is prepare them for what they’re going to see by putting them in controlled situations, experience the technique, let your body get used to the contact as close and collisions that are going to happen in a game, and then build on that as it goes to more 11-on-11 situations ... before we put him out there in live contact and just say Godspeed, we’re going to make sure this guy’s prepared, because my number one priority is his health.”
The Giants’ usual list of suspects worked with trainers on a back field.
That included Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Austin Mack, John Ross and Elerson Smith. Nate Solder did not take any team reps that I noticed.
Wednesday may have been a maintenance day for left guard Shane Lemieux. Ted Larsen and Kenny Wiggins appeared to split the reps at that spot. Larsen also took some second-team reps at center.
Peppers left briefly to go inside, but returned.