NFC East: Tom Rock
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
ALBANY, N.Y. -- It's too bad the Giants aren't playing a preseason game tonight. They desperately need to see some other uniforms. Coach Tom Coughlin had to separate two players Wednesday evening -- and they weren't even participating in a drill.
I've seen the Cowboys, Eagles and Giants during my ongoing NFC East training camp tour. Of those three teams, the Giants definitely seem to have the highest tempo in practice. In two practices Wednesday, the defense was dominant at times. Backup defensive end (he hates that phrase) Mathias Kiwanuka jolted Kevin Boothe so hard on one play that the 315-pound guard almost toppled over. Here's a look at some of the things that stood out to me Wednesday:
- Every time I looked up, a guy wearing No. 29 was knocking the ball away from a receiver or making an interception. That would be Stoney Woodson, a seventh-round pick out of South Carolina. The rookie doesn't seem to be overwhelmed at all in his first camp. And he's seizing the opportunity to have more reps with starters Aaron Ross and Corey Webster out with injuries. Mike Garafolo is driving the Woodson bandwagon, but I've decided to hop aboard.
- There's a lot more trash talking that goes on in Giants camp than the other two camps I've been in. The offense and defense really take things personally and it creates a highly competitive atmosphere. In Eagles camp, Asante Samuel was the one guy who was constantly running his mouth. Otherwise, it was fairly quiet. I know that Giants safety Michael Johnson got in someone's face Wednesday night. Still not sure what that was about. Practice ended with veteran offensive tackle Tutan Reyes wading into the middle of at least 25 defensive players and taunting them -- in a good-natured sort of way.
- Have I mentioned that rookie wide receiver Ramses Barden has taken this camp by storm? You can tell that Coughlin's trying to play it down, but Barden's been the most impressive receiver on the field -- by a wide margin. Am I getting carried away after watching two practices? Maybe, but some of my guys on the beat such as Tom Rock (Newsday) and Garafolo (Star-Ledger) say that Barden's been doing this the entire camp. Rock kept describing one play to me where Barden went up in the back of the end zone, twisted his body back around and snagged a ball with one hand. Maybe Hakeem Nicks will catch up to him at some point, but right now Barden has earned more playing time than the first-rounder. OK, I'm finished gushing.
- I don't know how Kevin Dockery can hold off Terrell Thomas for the nickel spot much longer. Dockery's a scrappy little guy who's making plenty of plays in camp, but Thomas is the smoother player. He doesn't rush anything, but when the ball's in the air, it's his. Everyone wants to talk about the reinforcements along the defensive line, but this team is stacked at cornerback.
- Since many of you have been asking about the other receivers, it looks like fourth-year player Domenik Hixon wants to nail down a starting job. He'll still drop the occasional slant because of a lack of concentration, but he's a true deep threat who's getting a lot better at beating jams. I should also tell you that Derek Hagan, a fourth-year player out of Arizona State, is quietly putting together a solid camp. He's not dropping the ball, and that's a big step for him. Steve Smith and Nicks need to get healthy and stay on the field. Nicks returned to practice Wednesday night. Smith remained on the sideline with a knee injury. Oh, and David Tyree doesn't look all that rusty to me. He's the veteran of this bunch. And Sinorice Moss catches everything thrown his way. I loved watching him come back on the ball on an Eli Manning bullet in the evening practice.
- The linebackers were going through a drill Wednesday evening where they lifted up a 30-pound sandbag and chucked it to the side.
- Coughlin just about lost it when an offensive lineman didn't finish a block during 9-on-7 drills. "Finish the block, finish the block," he shouted while adding a certain expletive for emphasis. What happened to the calmer Coughlin that I kept reading about two years ago?
- I think Kiwanuka's about to have the same type year Justin Tuck had in '07. He'll be the third man in the defensive end rotation, which means offensive lines will be worn down because of Tuck and Osi Umenyiora. I wouldn't be surprised if Kiwanuka finished with eight or nine sacks.
- Safeties coach Dave Merritt is asking the defensive backs to treat everything like a live ball. When there's an incompletion, he wants his safeties to race over and scoop it up.
"We have to learn how to pick up a fumble," he shouted to Woodson at one point Wednesday evening. "Hot ball, hot ball!"
- Dockery always seems to be in really good position, but he's still using the wrong hand at times when going after the ball.
- Linebacker Chase Blackburn had the play of the day when he jumped high into the air to snag a David Carr pass during team drills. Tuck was heard on the sideline shouting, "Who said white men can't jump?"
- For more information on Giants camp, I encourage you to read my Camp Confidential on Friday afternoon.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
- Ray Buck of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram takes a look back at the Cowboys' history of drafting stars from other sports.
- Not sure it was fair of Clarence E. Hill to characterize Greg Ellis as some type of "negative force" in Friday's story. Ellis may have complained in the offseason, but he never brought that inside the locker room -- at least to my knowledge.
- At least one local columnist would've enjoyed seeing Jeff Garcia in Dallas.
- A Cowboys rookie fullback was arrested Friday for possession of a throwing star and knife. At an airport!
- The Eagletarian links to a list of top 10 rivalries in the league.What do you guys think is the best rivalry in the NFC East? It used to be Cowboys-Redskins. If we did a poll, though, I'm thinking Cowboys-Eagles would win. Let me hear from ya.
- You know the dog days of the NFL offseason have begun when Bob Ford does a column on Sean Jones.
- A recent column on the National Football Post indicated that the NFC East didn't have a single "franchise quarterback."
- Mike Garafolo has more on David Diehl's stand-up act in Manhattan.
- Eli Manning says he wouldn't take his shirt off for a photo shoot.
- Tom Rock of Newsday took a well-deserved break, but he left us with this question.
- It's time for Brian Westbrook's little brother to emerge if he wants to stick with Redskins.
- Jason La Canfora of the Post says that Albert Haynesworth is expected to be interviewed regarding possible tampering charges against the Redskins brought by the Titans.
Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley
As the nation anxiously awaited Tuesday's NFL schedule announcement, Yahoo! Sport's Jason Cole reported that the Giants were "expected to" trade for Cleveland Browns wide receiver Braylon Edwards before the draft.
"The Giants are motivated, they're trying to win right now," a source familiar with the negotiations told Cole. "Edwards is a bigger guy that Eli [Manning] wants to throw to, like he had with Plaxico. The Giants know they can't leave Eli with no great receivers. They saw what happened last year."
We first heard about trade talks between the two teams last month, but Cole makes a trade seem imminent. Normally this type of report would cause a feeding frenzy among the Giants press corps, but the Star-Ledger appears to be sitting this one out. Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News doesn't acknowledge Cole's report in his Edwards story this morning. His report suggests the Browns still have an interest in defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka.
Tom Rock of Newsday says it's not a "probability" that the trade will go down. So we're sort of back where we started. But we can still obsess about it for the next 10 days or so.