EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Saquon Barkley’s explanation for why he decided to play rather than hold out was the biggest news from Day of New York Giants training camp on Thursday. There were, though, lots of other things happening. Let’s get to the highlights from Day 2.
Taking care of Darren Waller
Tight end Darren Waller, the prized trade acquisition the Giants are hoping to build their passing attack around, was uncoverable for a second straight day. Waller had a number of impressive catches Thursday, both in 1-on-1 drills and during team periods. The two-time 1,000-yard receiver is too big and physical for safeties and slot cornerbacks, and too fast for linebackers.
Waller, who turns 31 in September, is showing the physical skills that made him dominant in 2019 and 2020 are still there. The reality is, though, that Waller is a 31-year-old coming off back-to-back seasons where he was limited by injuries.
The Giants know they can’t push Waller too hard.
Coach Brian Daboll said Thursday the Giants “want to have a good plan” for Waller throughout training camp.
“Whether that’s a little less reps, eventually a day off, however it may be,” Daboll said. “Certainly he is one of those guys we have definitely talked about.”
A twist to the practice schedule
The Collective Bargaining Agreement mandates that for every five days of practice, players get a day off. That is how the Giants operated a year ago — five practices and then an off day.
This year, they have switched up the schedule. For the first two weeks, the Giants will practice three days, then take the fourth day off.
“In June and May, we’re doing a lot of evaluation to get ready for training camp. So, I spend a lot of time with (head athletic trainer) Ronnie Barnes and (diretor of rehab/physical therapist) Leigh Weiss and (assistant strength coach) Mark Loecher and (director of performance) Sam Coad. They do a great job of doing their research, presenting their plan. We talk about it and again, everything is for the players. We try to do the best we can.”
First-team reps for Jalin Hyatt
A day after leaving practice early due to heat-related issues, rookie wide receiver Jalin Hyatt received a handful of reps with Daniel Jones and the first-team offense. That’s the first time since he was drafted that Hyatt has run with the starters.
He did not catch any passes from Jones, and Hyatt did have an end zone drop during Thursday’s 1-on-1 drills, but Thursday was a small step forward for the young speedster.
Shuffling the deck
Daboll said Thursday that he would change the groupings at several positions each day early in camp, giving several players opportunities to get reps with the first team.
Hyatt and Jeff Smith got some first-team reps at wide receiver. Second-round pick John Michael Schmitz was at center with the starters Thursday, with Ben Bredeson at left guard. On Wednesday, Bredeson was OC1 and Josh Ezeudu was at left guard.
On defense, Cor’Dale Flott got first-team snaps in the slot on Wednesday in place of Darnay Holmes, and second-year man Dane Belton got a significant number of first-team snaps at safety.
Darrian Beavers took first-team reps next to Bobby Okereke at inside linebacker for a second straight day.
Oh, no! Daniel Jones threw a pick
One day after having an excellent practice, quarterback Daniel Jones threw his first interception of training camp.
Moving out of the pocket to his left, Jones threw an off-balance pass that sailed over Waller’s head and was picked off by a diving Xavier McKinney.
Before practice, Daboll had talked about the Giants threading the needle between needing to create more explosive plays after finishing last in the NFL in that category a year ago while not forcing plays that aren’t there.
“I never want Daniel to force any ball,” Daboll said. “Will there be times when I might go to him and say, ‘let this thing rip.’ If it gets picked, I don’t really care. It gets intercepted in practice, let’s take a look at how it looks. It’s not just that. There’s a lot of areas in all three phases we have done a lot of research in the offseason and areas we have to improve on.”
Thursday’s interception was probably a ball Daboll wishes he had not thrown.
Thursday, in general, was not as crisp for the offense. Team periods, both 7-on-7 and 11-on-11, were full field rather than just being limited to the end zone. There were more incompletions and pass breakups than there had been on Wednesday.
Rakeem Nunez-Roches update
After being in a car accident on Tuesday, veteran defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches reportedly has a concussion. Obviously, he has not practiced.
“He’s sore,” Daboll said. “It could have been worse, so I’m glad he’s where he is right now. I think he’s making progress.”
Collin Johnson continues to impress
After missing last season with a torn Achilles, the 6-foot-6, 220-pound Johnson is off to a good start in his bid to earn a roster spot in a crowded, highly competitive receiver group.
Johnson torched first-round pick Deonte Banks for a touchdown during 1-on-1 drills, catching a fade for an easy score. He also had a few receptions during team periods. Johnson might not make the roster, but he can play in the league.
Quote of the day
“I don’t want to talk about building. It’s more about doing at this point. Going into my fifth season, and I hate losing. I don’t really want to talk about building. I want to talk about what we are doing today to get better for tomorrow, and then that day leads into the season. You all can talk about building but our mindset is winning.”
— Defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence
The Giants will practice Friday at 5 p.m., a departure from the morning practices they held on Wednesday and Thursday. They will be off on Saturday. Here are the remaining practices open to the public.
Friday, July 28 — 5 p.m.
Sunday, July 30 — 10 a.m.
Monday, July 31 — 10 a.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 1 — 5 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 2 — 10 a.m.
Friday, Aug. 3 — 10 a.m.
Sat., Aug. 4 — 5 p.m.