Seven Takeaways from Day 2 of New York Giants Minicamp

The Giants went through another up-tempo "walkthrough" type of practice, Wednesday, but there's still plenty to talk about from the day.
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Now that was more like it.

"That" refers to the weather, which unlike Tuesday's oppressive heat and humidity, was more of a gentle summer's day filled with enough heat to cause one to break a sweat yet with the humidity replaced by a nice cross breeze that made Day 2 of the Giants mandatory minicamp easier to get through.

And if you think the media were the only ones who felt it, the players must have felt it as well. They just seemed to have a lot more energy on Day 2 than they did the previous day and were flying around having a grand old time out there playing football.

That said, here are a few takeaways from Day 2.

1. One of the things I've been wondering about is the "decline" of punter Riley Dixon. If you've been reading my training camp breakdowns, I questioned how much of a factor the revolving door at gunner was a factor in Dixon's down year.

Well, I put that question to special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey, and sure enough, he confirmed my theory. "Any time you can have continuity at any spot, whether it be offense, defense, special teams, that's what you want," he said.

"When you have a lot of turnover, things are different. You know, when you turnover on the offensive line, the chemistry is different. Guys have to learn how to work with each other and what steps they take and same thing with the secondary when you're changing out different guys in the secondary--it's the same thing. Guys got to know their strengths and weaknesses. It's no different in special teams."

In an ideal scenario, the Giants find a receiver for at least one of their gunner roles because, with a receiver, they're taught how to fight off jams, and they have a better tracking ability to the ball, both transferrable skills to special teams.

Why mention this? Because the Giants have a bit of a logjam at receiver where whoever is at the bottom of that depth chart will have to contribute on special teams.

So if you're planning on watching practices this summer (assuming they're open to fans) or the preseason games, that's probably something to watch before you make out your final roster prediction sheets.

2. One of the things I've wanted to see with quarterback Daniel Jones is how quickly he's making his reads and getting the ball out of his hand, something that he often struggled with last year

So for kicks and giggles, I put a stopwatch on some of Jones's passes during the 11-on-11. Now before I give you the results, remember that there was no pass rush. I also started the clock once Jones completed his drop back, be it a three-, five- or seven-step drop. And I only timed about six passing attempts.

In four out of the six, Jones held the ball for at least three seconds. If we use Pro Football Focus's baseline, ideally, you want the quarterback to get rid of the ball in 2.5 seconds or less.

To recap, PFF had Jones averaging 2.58 seconds last year on drop-backs to attempt, 2.71 seconds from the time the ball was snapped to attempt, and 3.05 from drop-back to sack--all high numbers that need to come down this year.

It's still early, and Jones is still developing chemistry with his new receivers. But this is something to keep an eye on as the summer progresses.

3. The Giants have spent a lot of work so far in this camp on vertical passing routes, and Jones has done a nice job hitting his receivers in stride. And I wrote yesterday of how Kenny Golladay comes over to catch passes from Jones every chance he gets. 

Today was no exception as Golladay was the primary receiver for Jones when they were lobbing the ball around and on drills involving the corner fade pass. Even if it's just a simply tossing of the ball, this work will help the two for when it starts to count.

4. Receivers Kadarius Toney and John Ross and tight end Kelvin Benjamin were on Wednesday's practice field. (Toney and Benjamin left Tuesday's practice early, and Ross wasn't spotted (he didn't appear to go through the entire workout on Wednesday).

But I want to talk specifically about Toney, who took most of his snaps with the second-team offense quarterbacked by Mike Glennon.

You can certainly see that speed, quickness, and shiftiness in Toney's game, and I think "electric" is a great way to describe his play.

There was one play, in particular, that was highlight-reel worthy. Toney lined up against cornerback James Bradberry during a goal-line drill and juked the veteran before coming down with a pass.

It's unclear if Toney, who has been fielding punts in this camp, is a serious contender for the punt returner role. But the prospect of having Toney compete for the punt returner role has special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey excited.

"When you see a guy with those type of traits as a coach, obviously you get excited because those are unique skill sets," he said. "That's why he was drafted in the first round. He's a very talented player. He's electric with the ball in his hands."

5. I know Saquon Barkley is always a story, but I recommend taking a deep breath for those who are worried about the lack of a return date for the star running back. Barkley doesn't need to be ready until the season starts, and right now, he has time on his side.

I'm fully expecting him to be limited in training camp, and it wouldn't surprise me if he starts on the active/PUP list for the first week or two of camp. Even when he does get the green light to return, you can bet he's going to be on a pitch count and one that I wouldn't be stunned to see extend into the early part of the regular season.

While it might be natural to panic, remember that the Giants are hoping for an extended season that includes a postseason appearance. And if giving Barkley a few extra weeks to get himself 100% means sitting him at the start of training camp throughout the preseason and, if need be, for a game or two to start the season, it will be worth it if he's at full strength for the homestretch run.

6. Just a gut feeling, but I suspect we might have seen the last of Jabrill Peppers' days as the full-time punt returner.

Last season, Peppers finished with his best punt return average of his career, 12.5 yards/return, which put him fourth in the league among punt returners with at least 15 returns. While that's not bad production, one gets the feeling the Giants want to tape into the speed the Giants have added to the roster that can potentially help in that role.

"It's a lot of competition from every position down the board and competition brings out the best in everybody," Peppers said of having to defend his hold on the job.

"You know, I'm willing to do whatever helps the team. Like you said it's definitely going to be competitive. We have a lot of capable guys that can track the ball, have good hands and make guys miss in space. It's definitely going to be interesting to see whoever comes out on top."

7. How much better will the Giants defense be this year? Well, if they can plan a lot more man coverage, which seems to be the direction the unit's headed given all the personnel added in the off-season, the answer is a lot.

"I know we didn't play a ton of man last year but we picked spots to play man. defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said. "Those guys last year, they did a good job what we asked them to do.

"I don't know what the recipe is going to be for this year yet. ... Will we probably be in more man? Possibly." 


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