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NEWARK STAR LEDGER
GIANTS' PLAYERS ROUNDING INTO "FOOTBALL MENTALITY" AT START OF ORGANIZED TEAM ACTIVITIES
"The sight of Brian
Witherspoon writhing on the ground as the rest of the Giants’ defensive backs knelt in prayer was
an all-too-familiar scene for a team that lost a bunch of cornerbacks, including
Witherspoon, a season ago.
It was certainly a poor way to begin the first of the 10 organized team
activities sessions. But the workout continued for the rest of the team in a
gathering (I’m running out of ways to say “practice” without saying “practice”
because OTAs aren’t supposed to be called “practices”) that was short and
limited in contact.
"All of these workouts are important for everybody to get back into a
football mentality," coach Tom Coughlin said. "Our first thing
out here is we try to be safety-first. We don't have any pads on; we don't even
have any shells on. We can go against each other a little bit in this phase.
"But the development of these young guys is real important. Just to learn the
new language is real critical."
As you'll see below, some of the young guys are very early in the development
A few notes from the session, and beyond:
--The following players appeared to be limited in some form or fashion: RB
Ahmad Bradshaw (foot), CB Corey Webster
(unknown), CB Terrell Thomas (knee), LT Will
Beatty (eye), DT Linval Joseph (ankle), LB
Clint Sintim (knee), TE Travis Beckum (knee),
CB Prince Amukamara (foot) and WR Dan DePalma
(hip). Amukamara says he’ll begin running next week. DePalma revealed
he had hip surgery this offseason after practicing through a torn labrum. He’s a
guy a few veterans have mentioned as a possible breakout player, so we’ll keep a
close eye on him when he begins working fully. It sounds like that won’t be
until training camp, though.
--TE Martellus Bennett left practice midway through with a
sore hamstring. But that doesn’t stop the learning. “(The trainers) can wrap you
over here,” TEs coach Mike Pope yelled toward Bennett, meaning
he wanted him closer to provide instruction on what the other players were
--These players were not in attendance: DT Chris Canty
(knee), TE Jake Ballard (knee), TE Adrien
Robinson (finishing school) and DE Osi Umenyiora, who
has yet to make an appearance around these parts this offseason. (I'm guessing
Ballard wasn't around because he comes in early for rehab. I'm not sure if
Canty's absence on the field had to do with his knee, which he had scoped this
--Here’s how the first-team offensive line looked: LT James
Brewer, LG Kevin Boothe, C David
Baas, RG Chris Snee, RT David Diehl.
Pretty much what we expected, save for Brewer in for Beatty. Expect Brewer to
get plenty of reps at right tackle, too.
--Your starting LBs were Mathias Kiwanuka, Chase
Blackburn and Michael Boley. Newly acquired Keith
Rivers was working with the second team. Rivers received some instruction from
defensive coordinator Perry Fewell because he was peeking in
the wrong gap on a running play. On the next play, Rivers was upset with his
drop into a zone when WR Jerrel Jernigan caught a ball on a
hook inside him.--S Tyler Sash worked with the starters in Phillips'
--DT Markus Kuhn (seventh round) was in action after missing
rookie camp with a leg laceration. All's well, apparently, as he got up to bat
down a pass late in practice.
--CB Jayron Hosley, the team’s third-round pick, made a nice
play in team drills when he slipped underneath WR Isaiah Stanback
on an in cut from QB Ryan Perrilloux. Hosley was
playing over top of Stanback but drifted even with him and then got inside his
shoulder to get position and knock the ball away. Hosley showed good instincts
on that play. A little later, though, he didn’t drop into a zone properly and
allowed WR Ramses Barden to catch an easy intermediate pass
near the sideline. “Get your depth,” secondary coach Peter
Giunta said. And Hosley struggled to read a comeback route late in
practice. His momentum carried him too far upfield on that play. “Watch the
three-step (drop),” Giunta told him. In short, Hosley has the ability but like
many rookies, needs to work on his technique.
--With Witherspoon likely done for the season and CB Antwaun
Molden suffering an apparent hamstring injury today, depth at corner
remains paramount for the Giants. One player who could help in that department
is CB Justin Tryon, who was playing well last season before breaking
his arm. Tryon looked pretty good out there today, including on one play
when he defended a pass from QB Eli Manning to WR
Victor Cruz on a double move. Tryon didn’t bite and stayed with
Cruz as he ran the corner route. Giunta thinks it could’ve been an ever better
play if Tryon had turned back to find the ball. “Play the ball and that’s an
interception,” Giunta told Tryon.
--Speaking of the coaches’ commentary, Giunta and safeties coach
David Merritt liked what they saw from undrafted free agent S
Jojo Nicolas on one play when he stayed on top of a deep pass
from QB David Carr to WR David Douglas that
fell incomplete, thanks in part to Nicolas’ coverage. On the next play, Nicolas
came from down low in the box to cover the deep half of the field, as the Giants
are wont to do with their safeties. Nicolas, who signed with the Giants in part
because of fellow former Miami Hurricanes Phillips and Antrel
Rolle, will have to fend off Will Hill and
Janzen Jackson for a roster spot. That figures to be a very
--RB David Wilson, the first-rounder, ran into the flat on
one play when he should’ve run the short hook over the middle. Carr just pointed
to the area in which Wilson should’ve been standing when he was left without a
check-down option. This is all part of the learning process for Wilson.
--On the play Molden was injured, veteran S Stevie Brown
covered some serious ground to get to a deep ball up the sideline. He looks
spry. S Chris Horton, another veteran free agent, isn’t moving
so well and was saying in the locker room he doesn’t have a burst because his
hamstring has been tight lately. There’s apparently a lot of that going around
--Perrilloux has really been throwing the deep ball well this spring. Today,
he laid one on the hands of a diving WR Brandon Collins, though
Collins couldn’t hold on. Yeah, I said Collins was diving, but Perrilloux didn’t
have much to work with on that play. Trust me, it was a good ball.
--OT Matt McCants, the
sixth-round pick I wrote about on Tuesday, showed real nice balance on one
play when he handled LB Jacquian Williams to one side and then
stoned him as Williams tried to bounce the other way. McCants has looked pretty
good so far. Again, the hitting isn’t live yet, so let’s not make any snap
judgments on guys playing the more physical positions. In fact, that’s why you
won’t see much here about the players in the trenches because it’s just too
difficult to gauge them when no one is wearing any pads. But from a footwork
standpoint, McCants has been sharp when I’ve spotted him.
* * * *
was asked about receiving the Outstanding Civil Service Award from the U.S.
Army during a ceremony in Virginia this evening.
"I think it’s a tremendous honor. I’m very humbled in receiving this honor,
and I look forward to spending an evening with Gen. (Raymond T.) Odierno and the
other people being honored," he said. "I have learned a little more what this
honor is over the last week or so. It’s very humbling. It’s an honor to be in
that company and to realize the historical significance of where we will be when
this takes place tonight, where all the Chiefs of Staff have lived going way
back to the 1800’s, and what this represents in terms of our support for the
military, our men and women who serve our country.
"If you think back going all the way to back to 9/11 and how that changed the
way, I hope, all Americans feel about our armed forces, the changing of the way
in which war is conducted and what (the military does) for us on a daily basis,
so we can work in this great National Football League and all Americans can
sleep under the blanket of freedom. It is a very, very humbling experience that
I’m looking forward to."
Asked what he's learned about the honor he's receiving, Coughlin replied,
"Just the nature of what this represents. It’s the third-highest civilian honor
that can be bestowed on any non-military persons. I’m deeply, deeply moved by
* * * *
And one final note: the Giants will be honored by President Obama at the
White House on Friday, June 8. So, you know, if you’re in the neighborhood, stop
NFL WINS SALARY CAP FIGHT WITH COWBOYS AND REDSKINS
"An arbitrator has upheld the salary cap reductions the NFL placed on the Dallas
Cowboys and Washington Redskins for this and next season.
Stephen Burbank ruled today in favor of the league and dismissed the
grievances filed by both teams. The Redskins lost $36 million over two years,
and the Cowboys $10 million for overloading contracts during the uncapped 2010
season despite league warnings against such maneuvering.
The Cowboys and Redskins, who filed their grievances against the league and
players association, said in a joint statement they would "abide by the
arbitrator's decision to dismiss."
"We will continue to focus on our football teams and the 2012 season," said
the statement from the NFC rivals.
Before the grievance was filed on May 10, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said the
reduction forced the team to "go into the future and get some of those dollars
that we wouldn't have had to do had we not had that adjustment. So that will
just create a challenge for us in the future."
THOMAS PLANS TO BE "FULL GO" IN TRAINING CAMP
"He’s not quite sure how that very first full-speed, all-out tackle will feel,
or how his body – and perhaps his psyche – will hold up when he begins that
first backpedal while shadowing an elite receiver in Week 1.
But Terrell Thomas does know this much: Come the start of Giants training
camp in Albany, his right knee, the same knee that’s undergone two ACL
reconstruction surgeries in the past six years, will be ready to go.
“Training camp, I’ll be a full go, without a doubt,” Thomas said on
Wednesday. “The way my knee’s feeling right now, I should be able to do
everything by then.”
Thomas made that statement shortly after providing the latest evidence of his
recovery during the Giants’ organized team activities (OTAs) on Wednesday. Ten
months after tearing his ACL in a preseason game, Thomas felt healthy enough to
participate in the OTA session.
He began by playing catch with safety Antrel Rolle, then did some drills with
the corners. He did not participate in seven-on-seven drills, but the successful
workout session still buoyed his confidence, so much so that Thomas insisted
that he will be able to handle a full two-a-day load in training camp.
“I feel my knee is ready to do all these things,” he said, “so I had to just
jump right back in.”
Thomas knows he needs the reps, because while his words exude confidence, his
mind may remain fragile until he finally delivers on the field, in live action.
The 27-year-old has spent the past few weeks insisting that he will reclaim his
starting job opposite Corey Webster, rising above the defensive backfield
GM Jerry Reese has stockpiled corners over the past two seasons, drafting
Prince Amukamara and signing vet Antwuan Molden. But Thomas believes the
four-year, $28-million deal he inked in March cements his position in the CB
“I feel that’s why they brought me back,” he said. “Obviously, come training
camp, there’s going to be a lot of competition, with me, Prince, Corey, young
guys, Molden. There’s no position set, except for probably Eli (Manning). But
starting, that’s my mindset going into it.”
“My best thing is to prove that the knee is 100% back,” he added, “not that
the player is back.”
He must prove the knee’s health to the Giants, and to himself. While Thomas’
twice-rebuilt ACL held up in workouts Wednesday, he watched teammate Brian
Witherspoon, another corner trying to return from a torn ACL suffered last
preseason, collapse in a drill and get carted away. Coach Tom Coughlin said he
is “afraid” that Witherspoon has reinjured his ACL.
“It was heartbreaking,” Thomas said of Witherspoon’s injury.
“That’s the hardest part, coming off an injury, especially when you see
somebody with that injury,” he added. “When it’s time to go, that first tackle,
that first blitz, that first coverage, that first fall, you’re going to be a
little bit hesitant at first. It’s natural, you’re human.”
Thomas hopes to work that out of his system in Albany.
“Try to rep that out in camp,” he said, “so when Sunday comes, you’re not
OTHER OTA NOTES
- I've already told everyone who was NOT
at Wednesday's workout, but there were also two surprise players in attendance.
TE Travis Beckum, who is still recovering from a torn ACL
suffered in Super Bowl XLVI, was at the facility. He rode a stationary bike
early on, then stood with his teammates during seven-on-seven drills.
- Another surprise participant? Ahmad Bradshaw. Shortly
after the Super Bowl, the Giants' top tailback had hinted that he might not
participate in offseason activities, an effort to rest his chronically injured
feet. Yet there Bradshaw was on Wednesday, doing drills with the Giants' other
RBs and even taking a handoff during seven-on-sevens. Worth noting, however: He
took of his helmet and watched from one knee as the tailbacks did some
footwork-intensive agility drills, so he was resting his foot just a bit.
- Perry Fewell said Chase Blackburn was the
man to beat at middle linebacker, and that's what it looked like on Wednesday.
Blackburn handled first-team middle linebacker duties during scrimmage action.
He was flanked by Mathias Kiwanuka and Michael
Boley. Of course, it's very early in the process, second-year man
Greg Jones is learning a new position, and new acquisition
Keith Rivers is learning a new defense.
- The Giants lost two cornerbacks in their first OTA session on Wednesday in
Antwuan Molden (hamstring) and Brian
Witherspoon (likely a torn ACL for the second straight season). On the
bright side, some other CBs who battled injuries last season made it through
practice unscathed. Michael Coe was fine, as was Justin
Tryon, if you'll recall, was picked up by the Giants early last season and
impressed Coughlin with his grittiness on special teams. But a broken arm landed
him on injured reserve at the end of October.
He was back yesterday, though, and he added that he actually could have
played for the Giants down the stretch last season. He said his broken arm wound
up healing in less than a month.
Either way, Tryon is back now, and he'll compete with the Giants' bevy of CBs
for playing time this season.
- Second-year WR Jerrel Jernigan made several nice catches
during seven-on-sevens, and he seemed far more comfortable than he was a year
- WR Domenik Hixon was also back from the torn ACL that
wrecked his 2011 season, and he seemed to be running fluidly. He was among the
options fielding punts - along with Victor Cruz and rookie
Reuben Randle - and he also ran a handful of pass patterns. In
one instance, with Tryon in coverage, Hixon ran upfield about eight yards,
stopped hard, then turned around to make the grab.
He told me his knee felt "fine," and he wasn't tentative at all.
"I felt good," he said. "Didn't even think about it."
Hixon's also bulked up a bit for this season. Hixon told me he weighed around
190 last season. Right now, he looks considerably bigger, and he said he weighs
more than 200 pounds. His frame carries the extra weight well, and it doesn't
appear to have cost him any speed or agility.
- Rookie RB David Wilson got an earful from RB coach
Jerald Ingram after running a shaky pass route, but the
first-round pick did not seem too concerned afterwards.
"It was more of a tip than a get-on," Wilson said. "Said I want to be more
shallow. I was three yards from hash. He said be five yards from the hash. It
was a small tip."