Note: I had all good intentions of doing a morning and afternoon report, but given that there just isn’t enough time in between the practices to write the report and to do all the little side stories that go with it, I’m going to do one big report at the end of the day.
The Giants began the first of four on-field practices with a combination of draft picks, undrafted free agent signings, veteran tryouts, rookie tryouts, and eligible already on the roster –63 players all together – as head coach Tom Coughlin and the coaching staff sought to gauge how well the youngsters responded to the information being thrown at them in the classroom.
“It was a basic introduction, but it also led to the idea that this is an opportunity, and this is part of the journey right here for a lot of them,” said Coughlin. “You’re evaluated in everything you do –come out here, do the best that you can and impress people.”
Before I go any further, let me answer a question regarding eligibility of players for this camp. If a player was not on a 53-man roster or injured reserve last season, he’s eligible. So practice squad players, drafted rookies, undrafted free agents, and tryouts are all eligible to be here. So too are veterans who, again, were NOT on a roster or on IR last season.
In a camp where there isn’t contact and mostly drills, there were some guys who stood out and some who didn’t. I’ll stop here though to remind you that these are mostly rookies going against rookies and so what you read in this and any of the camp reports should be taken with a grain of salt.
With that said, here are a few quick hits from the morning practice. I’ll have a much more detailed report in the forthcoming May issue of Inside Football.
*First round pick Justin Pugh (D1-13, Syracuse) lined up at right tackle while seventh rounder Eric Herman (D7-13, Ohio) lined up at center on a few early morning practice snap before moving over to guard for the majority of the other snaps.
Pugh showed good foot work and was very fluid when he went through agility drills. His pad level was low enough to where he was able to get underneath his blocks when going against the sled.
Herman, who was an engineering major n school, plays with a nasty streak that reminds me of Rich Seubert in many ways. As soon as the ball is snapped, Herman charges into his blocks much like a bull charges at a matador. You can hear Herman coming at his man and when he hit the blocking sled, you could also hear the pop of his pads against it.
On one sled blocking drill, Herman was paired up with Pugh, and Herman pushed his side of the sled further and with more of a purpose, giving it a little toss of sports when the whistle blew, a la Seubert when he was just starting out. It’s still too soon to say if Herman can replicate Seubert’s success, but he sure does have a nasty streak in him.
*OT Matt McCants (FA’13), last year’s sixth round draft pick who spent his rookie year mostly on the Giants’ practice squad, was working at left tackle. The good news is that he appears to have added some bulk to his 6-5 frame. His footwork seemed a bit deliberate, as it didn’t look as though he was quite sure of himself. But when working against the blocking sled, he gave a solid effort, though his pad level was, at times, too high.
*DE George Selvie (tryout, South Florida) seemed to be polished footwork wise in the shuttle drills 9which interestingly, were being watched by former Giants linebacker Jessie Armstead). But when Selvie came out of the shuffle and went after the “quarterback,” he flailed his arms all over the place, showing very little body control.
*OT Kirby Fabien (tryout, Calgary) went to get into his block, but instead of exploding upward, he ended up lunging – and falling–flat on his face.
*It’s early, but a guy who seemed to be especially active was LB Charleus Dieusel (UDFA, Mount Union). He showed a good first step and in pass rushing drills, he had very little wasted motion in going for the strip. I’m not sure if there will be room for him on the final 53, and again, it’s early, but he’s one of the players who stood out in the morning workout and I could see him possibly becoming a mainstay on special teams this summer.
* Very impressive showing from S Cooper Taylor (D5-’13, Richmond) so far. First, his size is not an exaggeration – he’s tall enough to where one might mistake him for a quarterback or an undersized linebacker. He’s not quite as bulky as I remember Deon Grant to be, but I could see where with a little additional muscle he could perhaps develop into that kind of role.
Anyway, in coverage, Taylor did a nice job of watching the quarterback as he dropped back. He also obviously did a good job of keeping the receiver in his sights because when the receiver broke, so too did Taylor, who on every play I saw of him, was in position to make a play on the ball.
Even when it came to the run, he did a nice job of not selling out what he was doing as he inched up toward the box and quickly broke in the direction to shadow the ball carrier.
* I thought QB Ryan Nassib (D4-’13) had a mixed showing. His footwork, from what I could see, was not very polished as several times he threw off balance or tried to throw across his body despite there not being much of a pass rush in his face. His timing with the receivers also seemed a bit off, especially in the morning practice, though that’s to be expected given that he didn’t work with many of these guys before.
For what it’s worth, Coughlin was pleased with how Nassib picked up the information necessary to run the offense. “ He was poised; picked it up well. You don’t really have any meeting time, just this morning. Sometimes you have a little trouble just getting the cadence. But he did well.
“As time went on he got more comfortable and got better with it. Guys started to respond. He had better help. Huddle breaks – I don’t know if you could tell from where you were – but he got some better huddle breaks.”
Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride also thought that Nassib had a good day as far as running the offense.
“I think first day out he did a pretty good job of mastering the terminology. He didn’t seem overly confused by what we were trying to do. There’s so much thinking going on that it’s hard to execute at a level that I’m sure we’re going to see down the road. But for the first day, pretty good.”
Nassib, who is not afraid to run with the ball, also tends to sling shot his passes – on one deep sideline pass, he was in the air as he heaved it down the field. The pass was completed but only because the receiver made an adjustment by slowing down in his route to get it.
Again it’s early, but one thing to watch is if Nassib, who described his lone interception by S John Stevenson (tryout, Georgia Southern) as “a simple play, bad read, bad ball” that he “corrected it right away,” has the patience to sit in the pocket or if he’s going to be quick to pull it down and run. Either way, don’t take this to mean I’m down on the kid – it’s his first day of practice and it was assuring to know that he wasn’t overwhelmed by all he had on his plate regarding running the offense. And I certainly defer to the coaches’ opinion.
*CB Charles James (UDFA, Charleston Southern) muffed a punt but quickly found the handle before darting up field for about 10 yards.
*Interestingly, Gilbride said his star of the first day was tight end Michael Palmer (veteran tryout, Clemson). I agree with the pick, as I don’t think I saw Palmer, a four-year veteran, drop a single pass in both practices. And I also wouldn’t be surprised if he’s somehow added to the roster if he has another strong showing on Saturday.
*In a swim and rip drill, FB Ben Guidugli (tryout, Cincinnati) had his share of problems, finishing last and falling to the ground a few times.
*DE Damontre Moore (D3-’13) managed to knife his way past tackle Kirby Fabien (tryout, Calgary) in the afternoon practice for a sack, or what would have been a sack had it been a live drill.
* LB Jake Muasau, who was in camp last year but whose attempt to earn a roster spot was derailed by an injury, made a great read on a running play, blowing it up in the backfield. He also showed great patience when going against a receiver in a one-on-one drill, breaking up the pass.
* Linebacker Isaiah Keys (tryout, Kentucky Christian) walked off the field under his own power with a trainer, so it’s not known what happened with him. Also, another tryout candidate, LB Mister Alexander (Florida State) was carted off the field in the afternoon practice.
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In contract news, the Giants signed four of their 2013 draft picks, all to the standard four-year deals. The four are DT Johnathan Hankins (2nd round), DE Damontre Moore (3rd round), S Cooper Taylor (5th round), and RB Michael Cox (7th round). Rounds 3-7 typically get the minimum salary and have splits in years 1-2. I’ll try and get the signing bonuses for you later on.
Also the team confirmed that the y signed the following undrafted free agents: RB Jeremy Wright (Louisville); WR Marcus Davis (Virginia Tech); LB Etienne Sabiono (Ohio State); LB Charleus Dieuseul (Mt. Union); DB Charles James (Charleston Southern), and S/LB Alonzo Tweedy (Virginia Tech).
However, with the signing of linebacker Aaron Curry, someone is going to need to be cut, as the Giants are unofficially at 91 on their roster (I say “unofficially” because the Curry transaction occurred after the league’s close of business today so it won’t be official until Monday.)
I’ll check tomorrow to see if anyone from the rookie class is not there. Of course, a veteran could also be cut, so we’ll see what the corresponding move is.