Monday, August 2, 2010
Giants observation deck: Day 2
By Dan Graziano ESPN.com
ALBANY, N.Y. -- The Beast just wrapped up one-on-one sessions with Tom Coughlin, Eli Manning, Justin Tuck and Antrel Rolle, so we'll be rolling out some items throughout the afternoon. And remember to check out our Giants Camp Confidential feature Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday morning, Coughlin turned up the tempo in practice and wanted to see his players hustling between drills. He was not thrilled when a certain rookie defensive tackle (Linval Joseph) didn't know he was supposed to rotate into team drills. It was clear from the beginning of Monday's session that this coaching staff isn't going to wait for the young guys to catch up to the veterans. Either you keep up or you'll end up at the house. Here's what stood out to me during this morning's session:
Perry Fewell's intensity hasn't gone unnoticed in the early stages of training camp.
It's remarkable how much of a presence new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell has in practice. You can hear him from anywhere on the University at Albany campus. When Mario Manningham caught a pass across the middle, Fewell shouted, "That's [expletive!]" to no one in particular. And when cornerback Corey Webster snagged a one-handed interception, Fewell raced up the left sideline and threatened to throw a block on an unsuspecting tight end. From talking to Tuck and other players, you can tell the Giants truly missed Steve Spagnuolo's dynamic presence in practice last season. Fewell brings that same type of energy. Of course, none of that will matter if the Giants give up a ton of huge plays. But at this point, Fewell has been the story of camp. Coughlin hired Fewell years ago and then admired him from afar as he blossomed into a highly regarded coordinator. I think the fact that Fewell held the Bills together during difficult circumstances was also a big factor in him being hired by the Giants.
For those of you who have been asking, Ahmad Bradshaw looks completely healthy to me. He had to bounce a run outside Monday because linebacker Clint Sintim came knifing through the line of scrimmage and he showed that same quickness that I remember from a couple years ago. The Giants will be very cautious with Bradshaw in camp, but he doesn't have any limitations at this point.
Staying with running back, I can see why general manager Jerry Reese and Coughlin still have a lot of hope for Andre Brown. He ran a nice little wheel route in Monday's practice and then just exploded down the sideline. The Giants beat writers tried to identify a running back who's made it all the way back from a ruptured Achilles' tendon. They came up empty. Perhaps Brown can make some history.
One of the few encouraging things from last season was Manning's ability to connect on some deep balls. On Monday, he put the ball in a perfect spot for Steve Smith, but the receiver had it glance off his hands. Safety Deon Grant was responsible for helping Webster on the play and he made the mistake of letting Smith get behind him.
Rolle just has a swagger that you didn't see in the Giants secondary last season. I think he's excited about playing on a bigger stage and he acts like he's been around forever. It really has been a seamless transition and I think he'll make a ton of plays for Fewell.
The Ramses Barden Show continued Monday morning with the wide receiver making nice catches in traffic. Manning has a lot more confidence in Barden at this point, but the second-year player still has to take it to the field. Coughlin and Reese seem convinced that Barden's on the verge of being something special. He was a big story in last year's camp, but in the two practices I've watched, I like how he's catching the ball on the run. There's none of that hesitation that some young receivers have.
Rough day at the office for Madison Hedgecock. He dropped both of the passes that Manning sent his way. And it's not just a case of having hands of stone. For whatever reason, he doesn't look the ball into his hands.
Duke Calhoun is a free-agent rookie out of Memphis who is displaying excellent hands early in camp. He's made a couple of catches in traffic and I could tell that Coughlin was watching him closely today.
Catch of the day goes to second-year tight end Bear Pascoe out of Fresno State. He was racing down the seam and then he went into a full dive to haul in a Rhett Bomar pass. And speaking of Bomar, he was on the money in team drills. He's gained a lot more confidence and he gets the ball out quickly. At this rate, he may push Jim Sorgi for the backup spot. We pretty much know what Sorgi's going to be at this point. Bomar has a live arm and he's not afraid to zing it into traffic. Safeties coach Dave Merritt was frustrated a couple of times because his players couldn't get their hands on Bomar's passes. But it's not like he's floating anything out there.
No one ever talks about defensive end Dave Tollefson, but he's a steady player. He looked solid against the run Monday morning and it looks like he's quicker off the ball than I've seen him in the past. Defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka made an outstanding play in team drills to force Bradshaw to reverse field.
Travis Beckum will receive a ton of playing time in the preseason. He's a big, speedy target for Manning. But when Bomar fired a nice pass across the middle, Beckum couldn't bring it in. With Kevin Boss only practicing once a day, Beckum's going to get treated like a starter. He has to make that play. A tight end out of Ohio State named Jake Ballard also had a bad drop on a pass from Bomar.
I took a long look at rookie defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul today. He's extremely gifted, but he's having a tough time getting off blocks at this point. Second-year offensive tackle Jacob Bender didn't have any problems with Pierre-Paul when I was watching today. The good news is that Pierre-Paul seems to have an excellent attitude. He and Joseph are hanging out with the veteran players asking questions all the time.
Center Shaun O'Hara (ankle) will sit out both practices today, but Osi Umenyiora (hip), Hakeem Nicks (toe) and Boss (knee) will all return. It also looks like the Giants are going to be cautious with Keith Bulluck's knee. He stayed on the sideline today while Jonathan Goff continued to run with the first team. I'm going to focus on Phillip Dillard for a little bit in practice this afternoon and see how he's coming along.