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Giants mandatory mini-camp, Day 2: Saquon Barkley, Richie James, no helmets, more takeaways

Giants go through a light workout on second day of mini-camp

Syndication: The Record
Offensive coordinator Mike Kafka talks to Daniel Jones during mini-camp.
Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants dialed back the intensity on Wednesday as they held their second practice of mandatory mini-camp. Let’s get to some of the takeaways.

Helmet-less practice

Tom Coughlin would have gone ballistic had he seen the final team period of Wednesday’s practice. The Giants did a helmet-less walk-through with quarterback Daniel Jones — likely receiving plays via the radio in his helmet — the only one of the 22 players on the field wearing a helmet.

That’s the kind of day it was at Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Before practice head coach Brian Daboll had spoken about balancing getting reps for players vs. thinking about long-term health.

“I think that’s a valid question. Look, there’s a time to be smart and there’s a time to make sure you’re pushing through things the best you can. You have to balance those,” Daboll said. “So guys that we’ve got to take a little bit off them on June 8th so they’re ready to go fully on July 26th, I think that’s being smart.

“You push guys through in training camp, maybe it’s the same exact thing and they don’t have a red jersey on. It’s week two in training camp, everybody is sore, we know we’re sore, but we’ve got to get ready to go, then there’s a time to push through things.

“All we’re trying to do is try to be as healthy as we can be when training camp gets here.

Tryout players return

For the second straight day, a trio of tryout players took part in practice. Wide receivers Keelan Doss and Isaiah Ford, and tight end Jaeden Graham were on the field again.

“I think it helps, too, to get another set of legs out here and run around, but also get a good evaluation of some of the guys you want to take a look at. You never know when you might want to add someone to the roster. Could be today, could be two weeks from now, three weeks from now,” said coach Brian Daboll.

“You can have the ability to have some of these guys out here to look at them. I think it helps.

Doss, 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, played eight games for the Raiders in 2019 and one in 2020. He has 11 career receptions.

Ford, 6-2, 194, was a seventh-round pick by the Miami Dolphins in 2017. He played in 32 games over four seasons with the Dolphins, compiling, 63 receptions.

Graham, 26, is a 6-4, 250-pound tight end who played at Yale. He initially signed withe Atlanta Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2018. He played in 32 games for the Falcons over the 2019 and 2020 seasons, catching 12 passes.

The uniqueness of Saquon Barkley

We talked earlier this week about how much the Giants have used running back Saquon Barkley in the passing game this spring.

“I think Saquon is a unique guy. You move him in different spots, that makes other guys have to learn other spots, too. It really falls on the five eligible receivers or the personnel groups you hope to utilize,” Daboll said.

“He’s got good hands, he’s a good route runner, a good runner. Try to use him the best way we can.”

Daboll said Barkley, who has battled injuries the past three seasons has “looked good physically.

“He’s been able to do everything we’ve asked him to do. Run the different runs when we’re doing them. Those are more walk-through relative to how camp is being played. The routes we are asking him to run, his quickness, his ability to get in and out of breaks, his long speed, it’s all looked good,” Daboll said.

“I see a talented player. I’m glad he’s on our team. Look forward to working with him. He’s been great since I’ve been here just on the field, running around. Has been impressive.”

Richie James making most of opportunity

There wasn’t a lot of competition during Wednesday’s practice, but during one competitive 11-on-11 portion wide receiver Richie James caught a fade from Tyrod Taylor for a touchdown, besting veteran cornerback Maurice Canady. That was likely the play of the day.

James, a 2018 seventh-round pick by the San Francisco 49ers who signed with the Giants this offseason, has taken advantage of Kadarius Toney, Sterling Shepard and Kenny Golladay not practicing.

Aligned wide, in the slot and in the backfield, James frequently found the ball in his hands the past two days.

“He’s got quickness. He has the ability to play inside and outside. We’ve put him really in all three spots or four spots when we’re going with four wide receivers,” Daboll said.

“I think the quarterbacks can read his body language. Has good hands, knows what to do, dependable. So he’s been a good addition for us.”

James, who also has significant kickoff and punt return experience, could push for a roster spot during training camp.

Graham Gano saves his teammates

Players celebrated when placekicker Graham Gano connected on a 53-yard field goal to end practice. Turns out, Gano’s kick saved the team from some end-of-practice running. So, Gano was Wednesday’s practice hero for the Giants.

Red jerseys

The large group of players wearing red non-contact jerseys was unchanged from Tuesday. That group included Sterling Shepard, Kadarius Toney, Kenny Golladay, Blake Martinez, Quincy Roche, Andrew Thomas, Darnay Holmes, Collin Johnson, Jarren Williams, Aaron Robinson, Darren Evans, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Nick Gates and Matt Peart.

Golladay was active during the individual drills early in practice, running routes and catching a number of passes. Thomas, as has been the case recently, did walk-through and individual portions of practice but was replaced by rookie Joshua Ezeudu during team periods.

“Big body package”

Center Jon Feliciano complained on Tuesday that defensive coordinator Wink Martindale was up to “Wink stuff” on Tuesday, such as putting 5-foot-11, 195-pound safety Julian Love in the A gap and rushing him as a linebacker.

“I saw a few of them [offensive players] crying earlier today. It’s gotten weird. Yeah, that’s the big body package, and clearly that’s why I’m in it,” Love said. “But yeah, mixing some stuff up. He feels comfortable with me doing different things, and I feel real comfortable. I have .5; sack I’m trying to find another half sack this year so I can get to whole numbers. That’s what we’re aiming for.”

Daboll admitted Martindale’s defenses can be tough to figure out.

“I have said this before with Wink. It’s hard to prepare for. There are a lot of different looks,” Daboll said. “Designer defenses, if you will, that you don’t see all the time that you have to be really good, good communicating, do a lot of studying on them to figure out some of the protection things and different pressures that he brings.

“So, yeah, that’s one of the reasons why we hired him.”