New York Giants: Will Beatty

Big Blue Morning: Big Blue Bummer

September, 9, 2014
Sep 9
DETROIT -- Cleaning up a few items from Monday night's ugly New York Giants opener...
  • Manning
    Eli Manning called both of his interceptions "bad decisions" and took responsibility for both. The second certainly was a bad decision, as Manning was forced out to his left by pressure and tried forcing a throw to Victor Cruz too far into the middle of the field. The first one looked as though Manning and tight end Larry Donnell read the play differently, but Manning owned that one as well. "I thought I saw a pocket, but it was a wrong decision by me," he said. Manning threw a league-leading 27 interceptions last year, and the two in this year's opener put him on pace to throw 32. The new offense was supposed to reduce the number of mistakes and turnovers.
  • Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul's first-half injury, which knocked him out for a series but not the whole game, was not a neck injury but rather a shoulder injury, according to people I spoke with after the game. Pierre-Paul was not checked for a concussion, as is often protocol with neck injuries, because the doctors reviewing the play on the sideline determined that the hit was to his left shoulder. After the game, Pierre-Paul said he was fine and told Giants medical personnel that the injury didn't bother him at all in the second half. Sounds like a dodged bullet there.
  • Punter Steve Weatherford, however, has a sprained left ankle, which is the ankle on his plant foot, and he's got an MRI scheduled Monday. A sprained ankle shouldn't sideline Weatherford for the season or anything like that, but it's possible the Giants may have to bring in someone to punt for a game or two while he heals. Weatherford was in a walking boot when he left the stadium Monday night.
  • Tom Coughlin named the pass protection, along with the ineffective run game, as his top concerns. Pressed on the issue of pass protection as it pertains to the long-term health of his quarterback, Coughlin said, "This is our team, and whoever we get back healthy enough to play will play, but this is what we have." It's clear they were counting on Geoff Schwartz as a key piece at left guard, and they don't have him until Week 9 due to a toe injury. But left tackle Will Beatty absolutely has to play better.
  • The mood in the locker room was bad. No one could come up with anything positive to say. Linebacker and team captain Jon Beason said, "All of the problems are self-inflicted, which is a good thing, because that means we can correct them." But even he stressed that there are a lot of new players on this team and there's no way to know how people you just met will react to their first real adversity. The way the Giants come out in Sunday's home opener will be telling, I think.

Rapid Reaction: New York Giants

September, 8, 2014
Sep 8

DETROIT -- A few thoughts on the New York Giants' 35-14 loss to the Detroit Lions at Ford Field.

What it means: As we told you going into the season, the Giants' offense is not a finished product. Not even close. But the problems go well beyond whether they're picking up offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's new schemes. The Giants' problems are about personnel. The offensive line isn't good enough. They don't have enough at wide receiver, as Victor Cruz is easily erased from the game and Jerrel Jernigan and Rueben Randle aren't reliable. They have no dynamic tight end. And they didn't run the ball especially well Monday, either. Eli Manning's interceptions were bad, especially the second one, but the quality of the group around him needs to improve.

Stock Watch: The new Giants' secondary, DOWN. Yes, I know Calvin Johnson makes everybody look bad, but the breakdowns in the zones were terrible, and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie made way too many mistakes, letting Johnson go into empty space on the first touchdown and letting Golden Tate get past him for a critical 44-yard catch on third down in the second half. The Giants aren't good enough on offense to allow for a leaky secondary. This is supposed to be the strength of the team, but it was a weakness Monday.

Line must improve: Pass protection was Manning's biggest problem last year, was a major issue in the preseason and was terrible again Monday night. Left tackle Will Beatty looks lost, and he and the rest of the offensive line need to figure out some things in a hurry if the Giants are to avoid a repeat of last year's offensive crater.

Game ball: Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. The one bright spot, I thought, was the Giants' run defense, led by the play of the beefy defensive tackles on the inside. Especially with only three of them active for the game, Jenkins, Johnathan Hankins and Mike Patterson had to handle a lot of the load and held up well, limiting a talented Detroit running game to 76 yards on 30 carries. Jenkins made the plays that stood out most to me, so I pick him.

What's next: The Giants host the Arizona Cardinals at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Two days after losing left guard Geoff Schwartz to a toe injury, the New York Giants practiced Sunday without starting right guard Brandon Mosley.

"His back tightened up," Giants coach Tom Coughlin explained after practice. "He came out here ready to go, but then he couldn't."

As a result, John Jerry worked at right guard with the first-team offensive line while Weston Richburg, the most likely long-term replacement for Schwartz, worked at left guard. The Giants have major problems in this area, as detailed here earlier Sunday. Coughlin offered no insight on how long Mosley could be expected to be out.

Some other notes from Coughlin and Sunday's practice:
  • From the My God This Could Be Even Worse Than We Think Department: Coughlin was asked what he thought of left tackle Will Beatty's performance Friday and he said Beatty was working very hard every day in practice. Asked if he was happy with Beatty's work since returning from his injury, Coughlin said this: "'Happy' and 'satisfied' are not the words I would use to describe it, but I do recognize the progress and I do recognize that he's working hard at his trade." All righty, then.
  • Matter of fact, let's just keep profiling Coughlin quotes. This one on rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who missed yet another practice with a hamstring injury: "I would like to see the young man practice before we start talking about him playing in the regular season. That would be a good thing."
  • Running back Peyton Hillis returned to practice after missing a couple of weeks with an ankle injury, and Coughlin described him as "rusty." Return man Trindon Holliday also did some work in punt return and individual drills but remains hobbled a bit by his own hamstring problems. Cornerback Prince Amukamara worked on the side with trainers as he continues to deal with a groin injury.
  • Yes, Ryan Nassib did work some at quarterback with the first-team offense in Sunday's practice. No, there's obviously no chance they're considering any kind of change. Nassib is certainly going to get a lot more work in Thursday night's preseason finale than Eli Manning is, and that's why he's practicing more this week. The third-teamers spent more time on the field Sunday than the first-teamers did for similar reasons.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- They've played four games already, but the New York Giants' first-team offense isn't done with its preseason work just yet. Giants coach Tom Coughlin said after Friday's preseason victory over the New York Jets that quarterback Eli Manning and the Giants' first-stringers are likely to play a bit in Thursday's preseason finale against the Patriots.

"I think we will. I haven't decided that yet," Coughlin said. "We don't play until Monday Night, so that's quite a hike. We'll probably play some snaps with the ones."

Coughlin's Monday night reference is to the fact that the Giants' regular-season opener isn't until "Monday Night Football" on Sept. 8 -- a full 11 days after their final preseason game. So the reason Manning & Co. likely will have to work next week isn't just because they've struggled to move the ball this preseason. Part of it is that he doesn't want them to go 17 days without any live game action.

"At the end of the day, we just work here and we have to listen to the coaching staff and do whatever they feel is right," wide receiver Victor Cruz said. "I'm definitely excited to go out there and get some routes in against the Patriots. Hopefully, we can build on what we did this week."

They could use the work. Friday night was the first time in four preseason games that Manning threw a touchdown pass, connecting with Rueben Randle on a 15-yard score at the tail end of a successful two-minute drive at the end of the first half. Manning was 7-for-10 for 91 yards on that drive, including three completions to the target-starved Cruz for 52 yards. But until that time, the first-team offense was struggling again in pass protection, and Manning was not in a rhythm. And even on that drive, he threw a terrible interception that was called back because Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson had stepped out of bounds before catching it.

So after all that had gone wrong, so far this month and in this game, it was a huge relief for the offense to put together a drive like the one with which it ended the first half.

"We definitely needed it," left tackle Will Beatty said. "We needed to put points on the board as the first offense."

Beatty and the rest of the offensive line admittedly had a tough time keeping the Jets' front-seven defensive players away from Manning. Coughlin said Manning "re-established himself as a tough customer" in this game by bouncing back up from all the hits he took. But while Coughlin was obviously trying to be upbeat and talk about the two-minute drive and the run blocking, it's clear Manning's protection needs to be better.

"Our goal is for him to come in with a white jersey and come out a little bit cleaner," Beatty said. "Tonight, it was way too many touches on the quarterback. There's still a lot of work for us to do. Personally, I think my footwork was better this week than it was last week. I'm still not where I need to be, but I'm on the right track."

There was a lot to dislike about the way the game was going for Manning and the Giants' starters until that final drive of the first half. At this point in the preseason, they are choosing to look at the positive things they're doing and use those to help convince themselves it's all going to be OK once the real games start in a couple of weeks.

"Not concerned at this point," Manning said. "I know we have to keep working and keep getting better. It's not where it needs to be, but I thought there was progress in today's game. We're going to keep working, and it'll be better and better as things go on. Hopefully it'll be better next week and better for that opening game. But it's not going to be complete at that point, either. We're going to have to continue to make improvements throughout the season."

At least after Friday, they feel a little bit better about the possibility that they can accomplish something on offense.

Observation Deck: New York Giants

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It took only three weeks, four preseason games and 37 pass attempts, but New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning finally threw a touchdown pass Friday night.

Manning's final play of the Giants' 35-24 exhibition victory over the New York Jets was a 15-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rueben Randle that capped off a successful two-minute drill by the Giants' first-team offense. After the way things had gone so far this preseason -- and in this game -- they needed it.

Here are some other thoughts on the Giants' fourth preseason game:
  • Until that two-minute drive, on which Manning was 7-for-10 for 91 yards and Victor Cruz caught three passes for 52 yards, the pass protection had been a major issue. Left tackle Will Beatty struggled mightily in his second game of the preseason. Left guard Geoff Schwartz went down with a dislocated toe. And Manning was under siege all night. It was no excuse for the terrible decision and throw he made on the fourth play of his final drive, which resulted in an interception that was overturned because the defender had stepped out of bounds. But Manning had trouble getting into a rhythm because his protection was a mess.
  • Backup quarterback Ryan Nassib looked sharp once again, throwing touchdown passes to Henry Hynoski and Preston Parker in the third quarter, and he looks like a strong bet to win the No. 2 quarterback job ahead of Curtis Painter.
  • Parker, by the way, continues to work as a punt returner with Odell Beckham Jr. and Trindon Holliday out, and a strong showing as a receiver helps his case to make the final roster. Also helping that case could be a bad break for Marcus Harris, who was getting significant work with the first-team offense Friday night before a shoulder injury knocked him out of the game.
  • Hynoski, by the way, looks as though he has a role to play in the offense, even though they're not using a fullback much in these preseason games. Hynoski can be used in a variety of ways, especially as the Giants continue to have questions at tight end.
  • Speaking of tight end, Kellen Davis got 14 first-team snaps, Larry Donnell got 14 and Adrien Robinson got 14, including all 11 in that two-minute drill during which the Giants didn't substitute. Davis was the starter, and five of Donnell's snaps were in two-tight-end formations with one of the other two on the field. Donnell also was flagged for a holding penalty and an illegal block in the back (which was declined). Still no clarity here.
  • Reserve defensive end Damontre Moore made his presence felt in the second half with a pair of sacks and a fumble recovery. Moore continues to make plays when given the chance, but the Giants are still working with him on playing more under control and avoiding penalties.
  • Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul left the game briefly with a knee injury but did return to action. Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (lower leg) and cornerback Zack Bowman (triceps) left the game with injuries and did not return.
  • And of course, Corey Washington caught a touchdown pass for the fourth straight preseason game, because that's apparently a thing.

W2W4: New York Giants

August, 22, 2014
Aug 22
The New York Giants (3-0) and the New York Jets (2-0) square off in their annual preseason meeting Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET at MetLife Stadium.

1. Time for the starters to show something. We've said this every week so far, but so far Eli Manning and the Giants' first-team offense hasn't shown anything encouraging in the preseason. There's some hope that the game-planning they've done for this game (where they didn't do any for the first three) might help the new Ben McAdoo offense look more in sync, though the Jets' tough defense could negate some of that. Giants coach Tom Coughlin hinted last weekend that Manning and the offense might not be able to take their accustomed breather in next week's preseason finale if he doesn't feel they've played well enough to deserve it. So they certainly should be motivated.

2. The offensive line. This seemed to be Coughlin's greatest source of consternation in practice this week -- the idea that he still doesn't have a five-man starting line combination with which he feels comfortable. Left tackle Will Beatty should play more than he did in his preseason debut last week, but if the Giants retain questions about how much they can expect of him, you wonder if you'll start seeing right tackle Justin Pugh over there. Pugh moved to the left side a few times in practice this week, with guys like Geoff Schwartz and Brandon Mosley getting reps at right tackle and rookie Weston Richburg playing guard. Watch to see who gets the snaps and at which positions on the line as the Giants continue to play around with this critical area.

3. Looking for playmakers. Will we see unproven wide receivers such as Corey Washington and Marcus Harris, who have been preseason stars, play with the first team at wide receiver? With first-rounder Odell Beckham Jr. still sidelined, the Giants are looking for answers on the outside. Not only could guys like Washington and Harris make the team with a strong showing, they could earn surprisingly large roles early in the season. Starting tight end remains up for grabs, and there still could be time for Jerry Reese favorite Adrien Robinson to overtake Larry Donnell. And there's still a lot to sort out at running back behind starter Rashad Jennings. Anyone who plays well in this game will set himself up nicely as roster cuts and other final decisions loom next week.

Practice report: More O-line shuffling

August, 19, 2014
Aug 19
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- For all of the very legitimate concern over the condition of Odell Beckham Jr.'s hamstring, the more pressing matter for the New York Giants with the season coming up quickly now is the state of the offensive line. The regular season begins in less than three weeks, and the Giants are still searching for the right starting-five combination of offensive linemen.

What's worse, the preseason has given them some reason to question whether they really are deeper on the line than they were during last season's meltdown.

The first-team line for Saturday's preseason game in Indianapolis was Will Beatty at left tackle, Geoff Schwartz at left guard, J.D. Walton at center, Brandon Mosley at right guard and Justin Pugh at right tackle. That's what it's been in practice since training camp started, and I think the Giants' ideal plan would be to feel good enough about that line to run it out there Week 1 in Detroit.

Problem is, Mosley has been inconsistent, Schwartz struggled a bit Saturday and Beatty's still recovering from (A) a broken leg and (B) a poor season, so they can't know what they have with him yet. He still needs to take practice reps off, and he did again Tuesday.

Now, the fill-in for Beatty earlier in camp was veteran Charles Brown, but he's got a shoulder injury now and was playing poorly even when healthy. With backup tackle James Brewer also hurt, the Giants tried something interesting Tuesday when Beatty had to come off the field. They moved Pugh from right tackle to left tackle, kicked Mosley out to right tackle and put rookie second-round pick Weston Richburg at right guard.

"They're all playing pretty much everywhere," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "You always attempt to be creative and flexible."

The goal is to find the best combination of five and let it play and jell together. But it seems clear at this point that the Giants don't feel they've done that yet. They could elevate Richburg, who's played both guard spots and center this camp, to starting guard in place of Mosley and put him and Schwartz on either side, really. If they ended up having to move Pugh to left tackle, they could play Schwartz at right tackle, where he has some experience, and keep Mosley and Richburg as the guards. Richburg could yet overtake Walton at center, which is the position he played in college.

What's disappointing, after a year in which they scrambled for depth on the line, is the backup situation. Brown was terrible at left tackle, and John Jerry has been a non-factor so far at guard. These were the veterans the Giants signed with the hope that they'd have more experience behind the starters this year than they did last year. Brewer hasn't developed and is on the roster bubble. Promising guard/center Eric Herman is suspended for the first four games of the season for a drug violation. Injuries to starters on the offensive line have a chance to put the Giants right back where they were when it all fell apart early last season. And in case you don't remember, that wasn't good.

Some other thoughts from Tuesday's practice:
  • This was a "cards" day, with time spent in preparation for Friday's preseason opponent, the Jets, specifically. So for much of practice, for example, the Giants' offense was running Jets plays. Eli Manning in the pistol, etc. And there were times when it was the defense's job to simulate Rex Ryan's exotic blitz schemes. This is the one preseason game for which the Giants devise a game plan, and it'll be interesting to see whether that helps the first-team offense look better.
  • Rookie linebacker Devon Kennard managed to tip and pick off a Manning pass in 7-on-7 drills while the defense was in a Jets-specific look. He's a fun player to watch in practice, though the special-teams coaches continue to work with him on technique on the coverage teams.
  • The Giants have tried the past couple of days to get Mario Manningham more looks on the outside at wide receiver to evaluate him and his balky knee. He does not seem to be performing at a high level. You wonder whether they will start using Victor Cruz outside more if they're not going to have Beckham to start the season, or whether they'll leave Cruz in the slot and use someone like Marcus Harris or Corey Washington on the outside.
INDIANAPOLIS -- They said all the requisite things about how much fun it was to score 27 unanswered points in the fourth quarter and come back to beat the Indianapolis Colts 27-26 in Saturday night's preseason game. But the New York Giants still aren't happy about the way their first-team offense has performed this preseason, and honestly they shouldn't be.

[+] EnlargeEli Manning
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesEli Manning will probably have just one more opportunity in the preseason to get the Giants' offense in shape.
"We are realists, and looking at what looked to be a very poor performance in the first half with the 1s that didn't really get a lot better once the 2s came in," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "It wasn't impressive at all. We didn't get a whole lot done. There's no production. There's nothing to look at from a production standpoint."

Quarterback Eli Manning was 1-for-7 Saturday night after going 0-for-2 in the preseason game a week earlier against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The first-team offense looked lost once again, with most of the short-range and mid-range passes missing their targets. They tried a few downfield shots with mixed results. Victor Cruz caught one but fumbled it away, and then the whole thing was nullified by a Colts penalty. Jerrel Jernigan seemed to have his man beat a few plays later, and Manning threw to him, but the defender caught up with Jernigan and knocked the ball away.

The run game didn't do much this time either. And in spite of the return of left tackle Will Beatty from his leg injury rehab, the offensive line looked once again like a group still working on coming together -- which is what it is.

"Still figuring out what's going to be our style of football, which concepts are going to work the best for us and all of those things," Manning said. "Each game, something comes up that's new, and we've got to make sure we're on the same page as [offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo] and we're seeing eye to eye."

Manning said he does see progress, even though it's not readily apparent to those of us watching from the outside.

"I think there's progress being made, just in understanding the offense," Manning said. "We made some checks and some calls today that got everybody on the same page. We've just got to execute it at a higher level. But the mental capacity of it, speeding it up, I think those things are getting better. I think we were just a few plays from being OK tonight."

The question is whether three more weeks will be enough to get the offense in shape for games that count. The Giants open the regular season with a Monday Night Football game Sept. 8 against the Lions in Detroit. Manning is likely to play somewhat extensively in Friday night's preseason game against the Jets, but perhaps not at all in the following week's preseason finale against the Patriots. So he has one more chance to show himself, his team, his coaches and the rest of the outside world the way that progress looks when it comes to fruition against a live opponent. Otherwise, it's going to be a leap of faith once the regular season begins.

Giants injury update

August, 17, 2014
Aug 17
INDIANAPOLIS -- Four New York Giants left Saturday's preseason game with injuries, and they appear to be of varying degrees of concern:

Cornerback Prince Amukamara left the game with a groin injury. He said after the game that he didn't feel a pop and was able to jog and do some cutting left and right on the sideline, but that he didn't feel he could let it go at full-speed and so it didn't make sense to go back in the game.

"What they said was to see how it feels [Sunday], and if it's worse, take some pictures, do an MRI, stuff like that," Amukamara said.

Safety Cooper Taylor had a toe injury and left the stadium on crutches and with a boot on his left foot. Obviously, that's cause for significant concern for Taylor, who's been having a strong camp and preseason as a reserve safety and a special teams player. The Giants are already short at safety because of the suspension and release of Will Hill, so they don't want to lose Taylor as he's showing improvement.

Defensive tackle Markus Kuhn left the game with an elbow injury, but Giants coach Tom Coughlin said Kuhn told him after the game that his elbow felt fine.

Tackle Charles Brown left the game with a shoulder injury. It's unclear how severe it is at this time.

On the positive injury front, starting left tackle Will Beatty said his leg felt fine in his first game action since he broke it in Week 17 of last season. And cornerback Trumaine McBride got a healthy workload in his first game back from hip surgery.
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' first-team offense was not sugarcoating things after Saturday night's preseason game. They have been terrible so far this preseason and they know it. But the Giants' locker room wasn't a downcast place, and the reason was that the backups had just scored 27 points in the fourth quarter and won the exhibition game, 27-26.

No, these games don't count, but that doesn't mean teams don't want to win them. The Giants thought it was awesome that the backups came back and improved them to 3-0 in the preseason.

"Some of us could take some lessons on how to move the ball down the field and score," starting left tackle Will Beatty said with a smile.

We shouldn't make too much of preseason games one way or the other, good or bad. And the Giants' fourth-quarter comeback Saturday was a comeback by third-stringers against third-stringers, so you can make the case that even less should be made of it than usual. But there are always players worth highlighting in these situations, so here are a couple of them:

Adrien Robinson

In the spring, he looked like the leading candidate to start at tight end. But when camp started, he was buried at No. 5 on the depth chart and has barely seen the field at all in the first halves of the preseason games. But he caught two seam passes over the middle from Ryan Nassib on the game-winning drive, using his size and height to take the ball away from defenders on a play we've seen work a few times with him and Nassib in practice.

"He used the advantage of going up top, which was very smart in my opinion, given the way they're calling things out there," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said.

It's possible a showing like this could help Robinson's chances for more responsibility in the offense. It's not as though Larry Donnell has run away with the starting job while playing with the first team.

"It's my third year, so I need to go out there and make plays if I want to stay around," Robinson said.

Ryan Nassib

He was demoted this week from second to third string, so he didn't enter the game until Eli Manning and Curtis Painter had left it. It was 26-14 Colts when Nassib first got the ball. He was 11-of-15 for 158 yards and the game-winning touchdown pass to Cory Washington. He completed a fourth-down pass to Marcus Harris on the drive that cut the lead to 26-21 and a 27-yarder to Travis Harvey just before that Michael Cox touchdown run. He was 6-of-8 on the game-winning drive, including the 26-yarder to Robinson fourth down and 16.

"He did a lot in very difficult circumstances, which was impressive," Coughlin said.

Cory Washington

Third straight game with a game-winning touchdown catch, this one a 4-yarder on which Nassib read the all-out blitz and lofted it to Washington in the end zone. The 6-4 rookie went up and got it, and his chances of making the roster continue to improve.

"I just want to practice the way I play, and keep showing the coaches I belong," Washington said, his smile growing larger by the week.

Kerry Wynn, Justin Anderson and Spencer Adkins

Anderson forced the fumble and Adkins recovered it in the end zone for the touchdown that cut the Colts' lead to 26-14 one play after the Giants scored their first points of the game. Wynn, the rookie defensive end out of Richmond, helped pressure Colts backup quarterback Chandler Harnish throughout the fourth quarter. These guys are all long shots to make the team, obviously. But they wouldn't mind getting something on tape that might help them make some team. And honestly, in the meantime, their spirited performance is inspiring the sluggish first-teamers.

"When we start the game the way we're finishing them," Beatty said, "it's going to be a sight to behold."

Observation Deck: New York Giants

August, 16, 2014
Aug 16

INDIANAPOLIS -- The New York Giants still have three weeks to practice before their regular-season opener on Sept. 8 in Detroit. Saturday's improbable 27-26 exhibition victory over the Indianapolis Colts was a preseason game, its results utterly devoid of meaning and relevance to the larger picture. It is important that you read everything I'm about to write with that in mind.

Because, my goodness, does the Giants' first team look horrible right now. Eli Manning and the offense generated 45 yards on 23 snaps. Manning was 1-for-7 passing. They averaged 3.2 yards per carry as a team in the first half, and with Curtis Painter under center in the second half they showed no improvement.

Painter did have a fourth-quarter touchdown pass before giving way to Ryan Nassib, who led the furious rally. Nassib passed for 158 yards and the winning touchdown, a 4-yarder to Corey Washington.

The Giants said coming into this game that they wanted to have some success moving the ball with their first-team offense. By no means can they claim they did.

Here are some other thoughts on the Giants' third preseason game:
  • The Giants didn't make it through the game especially healthy, either. Cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin), defensive tackle Markus Kuhn (elbow), safety Cooper Taylor (toe) and tackle Charles Brown (shoulder) all left the game with injuries and did not return. Left tackle Will Beatty and cornerback Trumaine McBride did make their 2014 preseason debuts after sitting out the first two games while rehabbing from offseason surgeries.
  • Penalties were an issue again. The Giants were officially called for six of them for a total of 45 yards in the first half, and that doesn't count a Walter Thurmond defensive holding penalty that was declined because the play resulted in a touchdown or a Quintin Demps defensive holding that was offset by Hakeem Nicks' hilarious taunting penalty. It's a league-wide issue from which the Giants have been far from exempt so far.
  • Rookie linebacker Devon Kennard definitely flashed. They're using him on blitzes, which is something the Giants haven't done with their linebackers much in recent years and likely reveals an increased confidence in the linebacking corps as well as in Kennard himself. He appears to have some speed to go with his smarts.
  • Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka continues to have a strong preseason and was able to get pressure on Colts quarterback Andrew Luck a couple of times in the first quarter.
  • Victor Cruz finally got a deep ball and caught it, but he fumbled at the end of the play and the Colts recovered. The Giants were saved, however, by an illegal contact penalty by the Colts that negated the play. That came one play after a Manning interception was called back due to illegal contact by the Colts. Manning tried going downfield to Jerrel Jernigan a short time later, but while Jernigan appeared to have beaten his man, he wasn't able to stay ahead of him, and the pass was broken up.
  • Larry Donnell was the only tight end targeted at all in the first half, and he only got one target. You start to wonder if the plan to involve the tight end in the passing game is being rethought due to the obvious personnel deficiencies at that position.
Time to check out this week's batch of New York Giants #nygmail on Twitter ...

@DanGrazianoESPN: After you asked me this question Thursday morning, I asked Walter Thurmond whether he'd had the opportunity to sign a longer-term deal. He said he did, and that the Giants actually offered three years, but that he preferred to take one to keep himself hungry. Now, there are plenty of good reasons he might have wanted to do this. Cornerback salaries continue to escalate, the salary cap is due to rise again next year and a season playing in the New York media market can only help Thurmond's profile. And from the Giants' standpoint, they'll have first crack at him if they decide -- either during the season or right after it -- that they want to keep him for more than just one year. As long as he doesn't get hurt, Thurmond's in a good spot. And based on what we've seen in camp, he's a heck of a player. @DanGrazianoESPN: Well, no, but they have more than three weeks still to get ready, and I think that's an important thing to remember when reading my accounts (and other people's accounts) of what we're seeing in practice. This offense is still a work in progress, and that progress isn't and wasn't supposed to be completed by now. They only just completed the installation process Tuesday, which means there are still new schemes and plays they haven't practiced more than once or twice. We're in a making-of-the-sausage era of news and sports coverage, in which every step is documented and analyzed. The Giants are by no means ready to play a real game right now. The question is whether they can get themselves ready by Sept. 8. My personal hunch is that this offense will still be a work in progress when the season starts and will be running more smoothly in November than it runs in September. But I also still think the main concern is the quality of the personnel and/or the lack of depth at wide receiver, tight end, running back and on the offensive line. I think they're thin in too many places to really have a big year. @DanGrazianoESPN: I think there are legitimate question marks at every position. Can Will Beatty bounce back? (I think so.) Can Geoff Schwartz continue the improvement he showed last year in Kansas City? (Don't see why not.) Is J.D. Walton a legitimate NFL starting center who can push defenders off the line reliably? (Have my doubts.) Who the heck is the right guard? (Brandon Mosley right now, and he's been shaky.) Can Justin Pugh build on his strong rookie season, or is a sophomore slump coming? (No idea.) No matter how you answer them, the fact that there are so many questions is alarming, and likely indicative that it's not a strength of the team. As for rookie Weston Richburg, he looks like a guy who's learning. He's had a lot of reps at guard and center, and they're trying to get him up to speed quickly. I think there's a decent chance he passes Walton this year, but I also think it's more likely they work him at right guard, since that seems to be the bigger problem. @DanGrazianoESPN: Here's how I'd rank the position groups on paper: 1. Cornerback 2. Safety 3. Quarterback 4. Running back 5. Offensive line 6. Linebackers 7. Defensive line 8. Wide receivers 9. Tight ends Could be a long year, folks. Enjoy the game tonight. 
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Why haven't the New York Giants and their new offense thrown the ball more in the first two games of the preseason? Maybe because it's too dangerous.

With starting left tackle Will Beatty sitting out those two games as part of his rehab from a broken leg, and Brandon Mosley still learning with the first-teamers at right guard, the Giants' pass protection in the early part of the preseason hasn't been overly reliable. Beatty's replacement, Charles Brown, has been a major problem when he's been out there. And with sacks and penalties backing the Giants up against their own end zone in the first and second quarter Saturday night against the Steelers, it's easy to understand why they might not want to take unnecessary chances with franchise quarterback Eli Manning on the field.

That said, Manning, coach Tom Coughlin and the rest of the Giants are eager to see some success by the first-team offense, even in a meaningless preseason game. So if Beatty returns to the starting lineup as expected Saturday, it's possible that could help. Beatty will surely be better than what Brown has shown, even if he's not all the way back to full strength. He's been practicing and performing well against tough tests from Giants defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Mathias Kiwanuka, and he seems motivated to put his poor 2013 (and his gruesome Week 17 leg injury) behind him.

As for Mosley, he played better against the Steelers than he did against the Bills in the preseason opener, throwing the key block on Rashad Jennings' long touchdown run and holding up more reliably in pass protection. The Giants have had Mosley take all of the first-team snaps at right guard since Chris Snee announced his retirement the day before camp started. And while veteran John Jerry was signed as Snee insurance and may eventually end up with the job, the Giants want to give Mosley every chance to claim it.

"He's had a pretty good week, I think," Coughlin said. "It's just being in the game and being as productive as you'd like and eliminating errors and just overall production, improving from that standpoint. He's a big, strong guy that has had lots of time in the classroom and some work on the field as a backup. We certainly would like to see him just kind of take off and be the player we hope he's going to be."

Giants Camp Report: Day 15

August, 13, 2014
Aug 13
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of New York Giants training camp:
  • Rookie wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. continues to make significant progress from the hamstring injury that has held him out of practice since the first day of camp. The team's first-round pick even took a couple of snaps Wednesday in 11-on-11 drills and caught a touchdown pass on one of them. Giants coach Tom Coughlin didn't even rule out the possibility that Beckham could play in Saturday's preseason game in Indianapolis, though I have to think that's a long shot and that next Friday against the Jets is more likely.
  • Coughlin said left tackle Will Beatty and cornerback Trumaine McBride, who have been practicing but didn't play in the first two preseason games as part of the plan for their recoveries from offseason surgery, would play Saturday. He said to expect Beatty to play about as much as a starting offensive lineman would play in a first preseason game of the year. For comparison's sake, Geoff Schwartz and J.D. Walton played 20 snaps in the Hall of Fame Game, and right tackle Justin Pugh played 24.
  • Cornerback Walter Thurmond continues to dazzle, and I have to think it will be a huge relief for Giants slot receiver Victor Cruz to go up against whoever the Detroit Lions are using as a nickel cornerback Sept. 8 in Detroit. Thurmond's highlight plays Wednesday included a pass breakup on which he had tight end Larry Donnell blanketed over the middle and a stop on running back Rashad Jennings when Jennings caught a pass in the flat.
  • Other highlight plays: Rookie linebacker Devon Kennard knocking rookie running back Andre Williams to the ground in the backfield on a run play; Rueben Randle's acrobatic catch in the corner of the end zone against Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in one-on-one goal-line drills; Rookie cornerback Bennett Jackson ripping the ball out of wide receiver Travis Harvey's hands at the end of a long pass play; Interceptions of Curtis Painter by Mark Herzlich and Chandler Fenner in early team drills.
  • Wide receiver Jerrel Jernigan was back at practice after sitting out Monday and Tuesday with a knee injury. New to the list of injured players sitting out practice was cornerback Zack Bowman (unclear what his injury was). Also sitting out were running back Peyton Hillis (ankle), tight end Xavier Grimble (hamstring), tight end Daniel Fells (knee), return man Trindon Holliday (hamstring) and defensive tackle Mike Patterson (shoulder).
  • Cruz, who had some knee issues in practice this week, seemed completely fine and appeared to do everything in Wednesday's relatively short practice.
  • Though they will continue to practice here next week as they have been, Thursday marks the final official day of Giants training camp. That means Thursday's 1:20 pm practice will be the final practice of the year that is open to the public. So take off work and come out to say hi. Tell your boss I said it was okay.

Camp Confidential: New York Giants

August, 11, 2014
Aug 11
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- There's a tricky balancing act going on here in New York Giants training camp this summer. The team is trying its best to wash away the memory of a disappointing 7-9 season, but to do that they're asking for a lot of help from a lot of people who weren't even on that team.

"Obviously, we did a lot of work in the offseason and tried to turn the roster over a little bit," said Giants GM Jerry Reese, whose team signed more free agents than any other in the NFL this offseason. "But there are plenty of guys who were here last year for that 0-6 start and have a bad taste in our mouths."

Among those are quarterback Eli Manning, who threw 27 interceptions in the worst season of his career, and defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, who struggled through back and shoulder problems and recorded just two sacks in the 11 games he played.

 They are the biggest keys to potential success on each side of the ball for the Giants, and each has a fresh energy in this camp. Pierre-Paul says he's "110 percent" because he's fully healthy for the first time since October 2012. Manning is invigorated by the new scheme being installed by new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.

"It's different, and you come into the season a little nervous," Manning said. "It's a different feeling at this time of year than in previous years. We still have a lot of work to do, a lot to improve on, but I'm excited about that challenge."

Three reasons for optimism

1. The secondary: The Giants spent big to upgrade at cornerback, signing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie from the AFC champion Denver Broncos, Walter Thurmond from the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks and Zack Bowman from the Chicago Bears. They also re-signed Trumaine McBride, who was a starter for them last season, and still have 2011 first-round pick Prince Amukamara. The Giants believe the cornerback group is a strength, and, on paper, it appears to be so. "Now," defensive coordinator Perry Fewell asked last week, "can we get them to play together?"

[+] EnlargeJason Pierre-Paul
Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY SportsJason Pierre-Paul, fully healthy for the first time in nearly two years, is eager to regain his form and bolster the Giants' pass rush.
2. Jason Pierre-Paul: The Giants had just 33 sacks last season, and Justin Tuck, who's now with the Oakland Raiders, had 11 of them. The pass rush has to improve in order for the secondary to thrive. That's why the Giants are so encouraged about the health and attitude of Pierre-Paul. Back surgery in June 2013 and a shoulder injury suffered in Week 10 last season combined to make it "a lost year" in Pierre-Paul's own words. But if he's back to full health, they have reason to hope he can return to the form he flashed in 2011, when he had 16.5 sacks and the Giants won the Super Bowl.

3. The line can't be any worse: The total collapse of the offensive line was the biggest reason for the Giants' 0-6 start and 7-9 record in 2013. With Chris Snee having retired the day before camp, they have a question mark at right guard, but they believe they're better with Geoff Schwartz at left guard and J.D. Walton at center than they were in those spots last season. Moreover, the signings of veterans Charles Brown and John Jerry and the second-round selection of Weston Richburg have the Giants convinced their backups are better in case the line is ravaged by injury again. The key might be a rebound season for left tackle Will Beatty.

Three reasons for pessimism

1. Is it all too much too soon? The Giants project to have six new starters on offense and six on defense, as well as a new offensive coordinator. They didn't dip their toe into the free-agent waters this offseason -- they dove in headfirst and stayed in until their fingertips wrinkled. Most teams -- including the Giants -- will tell you that big free-agent sprees aren't the way to build teams. They had to sign a lot of guys because their roster had hollowed out, but it's folly to think they could have possibly solved all of their problems in one offseason. There are likely to be lingering questions to answer next spring.

2. Inexperience on offense: Rashad Jennings has never been a No. 1 running back in the NFL. Odell Beckham Jr. is a rookie at wide receiver, and Rueben Randle is a starter for the first time there as well. They have no established starting tight end on the roster. They have inexperience at center and right guard, and right tackle Justin Pugh is entering his second NFL season. The new scheme is simple and quick and could be fun to watch, but there are reasons to wonder whether the Giants have the right personnel to make it all work.

3. Leadership void: Many of the players who left or retired were significant leaders on the field and in the locker room. Tuck, Snee, Terrell Thomas and Kevin Boothe were all players to whom teammates looked for guidance in good and tough times. Jon Beason and Antrel Rolle return to captain the defense, and Manning takes a leadership role behind the scenes on offense, but the absence of several of the players who helped keep chins up during last season's 0-6 start as well as they did during recent Super Bowl runs creates a challenge for Tom Coughlin and his coaching staff.

Observation deck

  • Jennings is the clear No. 1 back, but now that neck injuries have forced David Wilson to retire, the Giants are trying to sort out the running back depth chart behind him. Their preference is for rookie fourth-rounder Andre Williams to show enough to claim the No. 2 spot. He looks good running the ball but not so good catching it, and, as any rookie back would, he has work to do in pass protection.
  • [+] EnlargeRashad Jennings
    AP Photo/Seth WenigRashad Jennings gets his first shot at being a No. 1 running back. Meanwhile, the Giants' depth chart behind him has yet to be sorted out.
  • Larry Donnell is leading the uninspiring pack at tight end, especially with Daniel Fells laid up with an injury. Donnell has the surest hands of the group and is a good downfield blocker, though he could stand to show more power at the point of attack in the run game.
  • Surprise young stars of camp include rookie fifth-round linebacker Devon Kennard, who could push for playing time at strongside linebacker, even after Beason returns from injury and Jameel McClain gets bumped back outside, and wide receiver Marcus Harris, who's making a strong push for the roster spot once thought ticketed for the still-gimpy Mario Manningham.
  • Beatty has done much more than the Giants expected him to do at this point in his recovery from his broken leg, and he's determined to put his disappointing 2013 season behind him. He has held his own against the revitalized Pierre-Paul in recent practices.
  • Jacquian Williams, once strictly used as a coverage linebacker in nickel packages, has progressed to the point where the coaches consider him their starting weakside linebacker in the base defense. His speed is a major asset.