The Giants were back at it following a day off Saturday in a 90-minute walkthrough practice focusing on corrections that came out of the team’s Friday night scrimmage.
But part of those corrections were some players who had previously been dealing with injuries but who had made enough progress to return on a limited basis.
Inside linebacker Blake Martinez was one of those players. Martinez had missed the last two practices, including the scrimmage Friday night with an undisclosed injury that head coach Joe Judge said he wasn’t overly concerned with.
Martinez was back on the practice field for the lightened practice. Still, Judge wasn’t willing to go into any specifics as to why Martinez was sidelined initially.
“I can't go into everything, you know, on account of HIPAA, but I would say he's fully healed,” Judge said. “He's ready to go. It was good to have him back out there with us today.”
Tight end Evan Engram, who was held out of Friday’s scrimmage to get a rest following an intense workload, also returned to the field.
Engram is believed to be a significant part of the Giants offense. The decision to hold him out of Friday’s scrimmage could have also had something to do with not wanting to show what plans offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has for the fourth-year tight end.
Rookie cornerback Darnay Holmes, who left Friday’s scrimmage early with a lower-body injury, was also back at practice as was offensive lineman Spencer Pulley (unknown), who had missed the last few practices with an undisclosed injury.
Not practicing were tight end Rysen John and defensive back Jaquarius Landrews. Both have missed several practices with undisclosed ailments.
The Giants stunned everyone Saturday when they waived running back/return specialist Javon Leake, who had been turning some heads in camp this summer.
Leake and cornerback Christian Angulo were waived to make room for corners Brandon Williams and KeiVare Russell.
“We thought with the way we had to kind of look at some spots on our roster and address some different positions with depth, this time of year, there's a lot of movement on the roster. That's kind of natural that the entire league, “ Judge said when asked about dropping Leake so soon.
“Look, he made a lot of progress for us. He did some good things, he did some s good things in the scrimmage,” he added.
The Giants have been struggling with their cornerback depth, which was depleted after DeAndre Baker landed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, and Sam Beal opted out.
The team is said to be planning to cycle through the players they have on the roster to see if they already have the answer right under their noses. If they don't, then it's possible they could look to the free-agent market for someone like Logan Ryan, who remains unsigned.
As for Leake, who must clear waivers if the Giants are to have a chance at bringing him back, Judge explained that with all players whom the team cuts, they keep them on a shortlist should an opening develop down the line.
“Every player we have here through the camp, we express them that we'll have all of them on a list as far as being brought back for the roster or a practice squad spot if one is available.”
The Giants will hold practices Monday – Wednesday and then wrap up training camp with their final scrimmage of the summer, held at MetLife Stadium, on Thursday.
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Judge explained that the upcoming scrimmage would more closely resemble the one the team had two weeks ago.
“It will replicate some of the end game things in terms of communication, use of tablets, and some of the operational things, just so we have another go-round as a coaching staff. We'll build some of the communication on the sideline with our players, but it'll look a lot more like some of the practices (the media) has been at—more like the first scrimmage than the second one, if that makes sense,” Judge said.
“We're going to work offense versus defense. We'll go to some specific situations we have to hit. It's not going to be an exact simulated game like you saw the other night, but we're going to try to, replicate the operational stuff for the team.”
Another focus of Thursday’s practice, according to Judge, will be the pregame warmups. “We will work on our overall pregame warmups, so they understand the timing and get their bodies prepared for competition,” he said.
“That's important really for the young guys. That's a difference from what they may have done in college and definitely different what they've done in practice to this point leading up.”
Judge explained he's looking beyond the obvious stats to determine the progress made by units and individuals.
"Without being too obvious, points are number one. But I like to kind of look at the length of drives, sustained drives, explosive plays. But really to me, it’s all about just good, fundamental football, which comes back to turnovers and penalties.
Although it looked like the Giants offensive line had its struggles during Friday’s scrimmage, for the most part, Judge was pleased with what he saw.
Judge praised Nick Gates, who seems well on his way to earning the starting center position. He also liked what he saw from projected starting guards Will Hernandez and Kevin Zeitler, and projected reserve players like Matt Peart and Eric Smith.
Judge was also impressed with the showing by undrafted rookie free agent Tyler Haycraft, a former offensive tackle at Louisville who has been working at center.
“Tyler Haycraft had a large load the other night and did a decent job handling it, especially with the mental and the change of our defense game with different looks,” Judge said.
“You know, that's always a key thing for the center position to be the smart guy who steers everyone on the same page.”
Another young player who has caught Judge's eye is outside linebacker Carter Coughlin, the first of the giants' fourth seventh-round draft picks this year.
"Yeah, he’s made a lot of progress for us. He’s definitely a high-motor guy," Judge said. "He’s a guy that whoever’s blocking him knows they’re in for a full down because he’s not going until the echo of the whistle is gone.
"He was able to go ahead and he did a good job of setting the edge for us in the run game, he did a good job in some of the pass situations of getting a little bit of pressure off of the edge. He showed up in the kicking game for us. I think he’s made a lot of progress on defense and special teams for us, and he’s definitely competing hard for the roster."
The Giants can use all the help they can get on the edge, so this certainly bodes well for Coughlin's chances of making the initial 53-man roster.
The Giants will be back on the practice field Monday at 12:30 p.m.