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Giants OTA takeaways: Saquon Barkley, Kayvon Thibodeaux, more

What we learned from watching practice on Thursday

New York Giants v Miami Dolphins
Saquon Barkley
Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants held a brief practice on Thursday as they rolled toward the end of the OTA portion of their offseason.

Let’s get to some of the takeaways.

Red jersey brigade

Rookie edge defender Kayvon Thibodeaux, the Giants’ No. 5 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, remained in a red jersey on Thursday. Coach Brian Daboll was non-committal about when Thibodeaux might return, saying only that “I’m not expecting him to be out of a red jersey today.

Thibodeaux was running and doing agility drills with a trainer during the early portion of practice. He appeared to be moving pretty well.

Thomas did some drills early in practice, but did not work during any of the team periods. Third-round pick Joshua Ezeudu filled in at left tackle.

Non-quarterbacks in red jerseys included:

Thibodeaux, Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard, Matt Peart, Andrew Thomas, Blake Martinez, Collin Johnson, Michael Jacquet and Rodarius Williams. Nick Gates, rehabbing from his gruesome fractured leg, did not come out to the practice field.

Practice highlights

One thing has become apparent throughout the practices media has been able to watch. The Giants are intending to spread the field, often with running backs aligned as wide receivers or with other interesting twists to their formations. They have been using a heavy dose of RPO or play action with the ball coming out of the quarterback’s hands quickly.

Here are some of the noteworthy plays:

  • Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson dropped what should have been an easy Pick 6 of Daniel Jones. He stepped in front of a receiver on a sideline throw, and dropped a ball that hit him right in the chest. Jackson has only three interceptions in his five-year career, and often struggles to catch the ball.
  • Saquon Barkley was frequently targeted as a receiver. On one play, Barkley lined up wide, with Wan’Dale Robinson inside and wide receiver Darius Slayton actually in the backfield. Barkley caught a slant on that play. Later, Barkley was wide open on a wheel route, but an off-balance Jones underthrew him and Barkley could not hang on.
  • Tyrod Taylor threw a beautiful deep ball to Slayton, who had beaten rookie cornerback Zyon Gilbert, but the receiver dropped it. Before practice, Daboll had said “Slay has done a good job” during the offseason program.
  • Gilbert batted away a Taylor deep ball intended for wide receiver Travis Toivonen.
  • There was a Niko Lalos sighting. Lalos batted a pass from No. 3 quarterback Davis Webb into the air at the line of scrimmage, and intercepted it.
  • Webb and wide receiver Alex Bachman had a nice connection going, as Webb hit Bachman on four completions in five targets following the Lalos interception.
  • Rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger continues to impress. The fourth-round pick had a few short receptions on Thursday, and simply seems to catch everything he can get his hands on.

Let’s go Rangers!

Daboll was once again at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night to watch the New York Rangers, who defeated the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, 6-2, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

“Like I said before, this team is a fun team to watch,” Daboll said. “It’s an unbelievable atmosphere, great people. Eastern Conference Finals, doesn’t get better than this.”

Daboll said the Rangers “just keep coming back, so ... Kind of get attached to them.”

Daboll had GM Joe Schoen with him Wednesday. He said Giants’ assistant coaches have been taking turns going to games, as well.

“You do the third grade thing, put your name on a piece of paper, throw it in a hat, pick it out, whoever gets it gets to go,” Daboll joked.

Shane Lemieux “what I thought he was”

Shane Lemieux, a fifth-round pick by the Giants in 2020, has been working as the team’s starting left guard this spring after missing all but 17 snaps last year with a partially torn patellar tendon.

A couple of weeks ago, offensive line coach Bobby Johnson — who held that job the past few years with the Buffalo Bills — said Lemieux is a player he liked during the draft process.

“I liked Shane when he was coming out of Oregon,” Johnson said. “I had a very high grade on him and I really wanted the opportunity to coach him.

Daboll on Thursday indicated a similar feeling about Lemieux.

“We liked him where I came from (Buffalo) coming out in the draft,” Daboll said. “He’s a tough, smart, dependable guy, plays with a nasty edge which you need up front.

“He’s done a really nice job here. He’s smart. He’s what I thought he was when we evaluated him.”

Lemieux said last season’s injury was his first.

“I love to practice, I love to get better,” Lemieux said. “I was trying to do everything I could to get out there (on the field).”

Lemieux is no longer wearing a red jersey and said he was “itching to get it off. I didn’t want the persona. I didn’t want to be in that jersey and I did everything I could to get out of it.”

Quotable

— Guard Mark Glowinski on rookie right tackle Evan Neal

— Shane Lemieux on Nick Gates

Extra points

  • Former Giants great Michael Strahan was at practice.
  • The NHL apparently brought the Stanley Cup to the Giants’ practice facility for a few hours on Wednesday.
  • The Giants have one more OTA on Friday. Mandatory mini-camp will follow next week for three days, then players will be away until training camp.
  • Daboll said last week’s fight between offensive tackle Korey Cunningham and edge defender Quincy Roche “really wasn’t much.”
  • Darius Slayton said rookie Wan’Dale Robinson is “quick, he’s fast, he’s explosive. I would say he is as advertised.” Slayton added, though, that “Nobody is faster than me, but he is fast.”