Well, the unthinkable happened because, you know, Murphy's law, and all that.
That's right, the Giants offensive line, the one unit where the team added more coaching resources than players in the off-season, suffered a potential blow to its depth when left guard Shane Lemieux was carted off with a knee injury.
The Giants are already down two offensive linemen, as both projected starting right tackle Matt Peart (back) and reserve center Jonotthan Harrison are on the active/PUP list. Head coach Joe Judge said that all the guys who are currently unable to practice for one reason or another are making progress, but right now, it's unknown when the Giants might be getting any of these guys back.
It’s early, but second-year linebacker Carter Coughlin is off to a good start. Coughlin has seen an uptick in reps with the Giants a bit short handed at inside linebacker—Reggie Ragland (NFI) and Blake Martinez (COVID-19) sidelined—and he has made the most of the increased opportunities.
Coughlin has shown a knack for sniffing out the ball and getting himself into position to make a play. He also brings speed to the game. Given how he’s practiced so far, certainly, that’s helped alleviate some concern about the depth behind Martinez.
The penalty laps returned, and five players—edge Azeez Ojulari, center Nick Gates, quarterback Daniel Jones, receiver Alex Bachman, and center Brett Heggie—were sent on laps around the practice field after committing mental errors.
I have to give credit to tight end Evan Engram, who managed to block out all the off-season noise and chatter about his play (which, despite the Pro Bowl nod, wasn’t as sharp as you’d like to see it) and who came into camp focused on what’s ahead rather than looking back.
With Kyle Rudolph sidelined on PUP, Engram has been making the most of any extra snaps that have come his way, especially those in the red zone, where the Giants did a lot of work on offense Thursday.
"Second year in [the same system], it's always going to be smoother and you can get a little bit more in the details," Engram said after the practice. "Having the big picture stuff down, I'm able to work on the small things each and every day. We're working hard in the meeting room, hard on the field, walkthroughs, definitely having the system down is huge going into year two in this offense."
You can hear more from Engram on his big year ahead in the video above.
Cornerback Darnay Holmes isn’t taking the potential threat of Aaron Robinson cutting into his snaps in the slot lightly.
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Holmes snagged an interception early in practice and had a couple of pass breakups Thursday. He told me he is a lot more comfortable in the system and has been trying to sharpen every aspect of his game, including hand-eye coordination with the ball, when to break, and when to close in.
I kept an eye on Daniel Jones for a bit, and the one thing that jumped out at me is how much faster he is in getting the ball out of his hands. The Giants worked on red-zone drills, and Jones made quicker decisions with where to go with the ball despite the defense flooding the end zone with defensive backs. He threw a couple of touchdowns and looked much sharper overall than he did the day before.
Jones continues to stay after practice to get some extra throwing work in. He's done this now for both training camp practices and for the spring practices that the media were admitted to--and for all anyone knows, for all the practices).
Speaking of the passing game, during the red-zone passing drills, I noticed the receivers were bringing the ball up high into their chests and then criss crossing their arms to secure it, a take on the old "high and tight" ball security approach.
Given how poor the Giants were in the red zone last year, it's clear the coaches are leaving nothing to chance in making sure that if the ball reaches its intended target, it stays there and isn't swatted out by a defender.
Thus far, I haven't noticed any extra pre-snap motion from last year, though to be fair, sometimes there is a wall of players blocking the view. And it's possible that the pre-snap motion, if it's in the cards, is coming later in the camp--at let's hope that's the case given the benefits of pre-snap motion in helping a still young quarterback figure out what the defense might be planning to do.
I'm not sure what's up with fourth-round pick Elerson Smith, but he's been on the side working with trainers for the first two days. The Giants didn't announce any injuries for Smith, and it's unknown if he was among those players head coach Joe Judge mentioned as having dealt with COVID before camp and needing to get his wind back.
Saquon Barkley might not be able to practice right now, but he was spotted in Devontae Booker's ear, perhaps sharing some tips with his teammate. Booker is projected to carry most of the load at running back until Barkley is given the green light to return to action.
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