The football pads are still almost eight weeks away from coming out of storage, but that doesn't mean that there can't be an increase in the football activity that will take place on the grass fields of the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
The New York Giants are about to open their three-day mandatory minicamp, providing the coaching staff with what might be their most complete look at most of the 90-man roster.
“It’s a good opportunity to get on the field, get together, get with coaches,’’ said quarterback Daniel Jones of the off-season workouts.
“Everyone starts hearing the verbiage, hearing the system again, practicing lining up, getting in and out of the huddle, start developing some rapport on the field with the guys. I think we’ve got some good work in with guys, and we’ll keep working on it.’’
But while decisions on jobs and players chosen for the 53-man roster the team will ultimately roll with come September will wait until the pads come on in late July/early August, there are still plenty of things to watch for this week at the team's mandatory minicamp.
The Need for Speed
The Giants needed speed on offense, and sure enough, they added it. John Ross, Kadarius Toney, and Kenny Golladay, added this off-season to give Jones and the offense a lot more speed, potential playmakers, and confidence.
Jones thus far hasn't had an opportunity to work with all his passing game targets, and that won't change this week since tight end Kyle Rudolph (foot) and running back Saquon Barkley (ACL) have yet to be cleared to return to practice.
But there will be an opportunity to see Jones connecting with Golladay and Ross, two receivers who reportedly didn't show up to OTAs until last week, and first-round draft pick Kadarius Toney, who has yet to catch a pass from Jones during a practice open to the media.
Jones's confidence level will be critical this year as he looks to quiet all lingering doubters about his suitability as the team's franchise quarterback. And for his part, Jones has handled that pressure about as well as can be expected, with an understanding that there are no more built-in excuses for him not to justify his sixth overall draft status.
The Pass Defense
Besides upgrading the talent on the receiving end, the Giants also poured significant resources in adding to the defensive backfield, starting with the free-agent signing of former first-round draft pick Adoree' Jackson, the projected No. 2 cornerback across from James Bradberry.
The Giants also added two young cornerbacks via the draft, Aaron Robinson and Rodarius Williams. While the Giants appear to have an embarrassment of riches at defensive back, defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is probably drooling over the many new ways he can unleash this abundance of talent.
For now, however, it should be fun to see the defensive backs square off against the speed the Giants added at receiver.
The O-line's Growth
Gauging the offensive line's progress is still months away, as that's a unit that one needs to see with pads on. But few things can be picked up if the drills should happen within a reasonable distance from where the media will be stationed.
These include communication between teammates, technique nuances, and how the coaching staff assigned to work with that all-important unit approaches the task of teaching and refining the unit into what will hopefully be a well-oiled machine by opening day.
Practicing the Tempo
Head coach Joe Judge has been gradually increasing the tempo of the practice as the players round themselves back into playing shape. While Judge won't be able to have the players go at game speed, he'll probably have them go at a more brisk practice pace than he did during the OTAs.
That would mark a significant step forward since the game is played at a brisk pace, and Judge has said before that he wants to see the team practice at a compatible pace.
And if they don't, well, you might remember how last year Judge angrily stopped practice and made the players start over when they weren't working at the pace he deemed necessary.
While it's unlikely that he would do the same thing this week if the practice pace isn't to his liking--the Giants only have so many hours they can spend each day of this camp--it wouldn't be unrealistic to think that Judge wants things to run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
The Pass Rush
The defensive backs are one-half of the pass rush package. The other half, of course, are the guys up front, where the Giants now believe they have an embarrassment of riches.
Whereas last year defensive coordinator Patrick Graham could only do so much with the pass rush packages (and he did enough to have the unit finish tied for 12th in the league in sacks, so kudos to him), this year, he has many more options.
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