5 Things We Learned as Training Camp concludes

Posted Aug 22, 2016 highlights five takeaways as 2016 Training Camp draws to a close:

With training camp closed, the New York Giants are flipping the switch to game mode.

From seeing the new free agents in action for the first time to position battles heating up in the preseason, a lot has happened since the team reported to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on July 28. Now there are less than three weeks until Week 1 at Dallas.


“Where do we go from here? We've got a lot of work to do, so we need to set our jaw and get back to work,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “We're going to have plenty of opportunity this week to develop our fundamentals, physicality and building up for the first game. We've seen some great things in practice that haven't carried over to the games yet, but we still have some work to do.”

Here are five things we learned from training camp:


Given their rankings last year, it’s no surprise the Giants used their resources in the offseason on defense, specifically the front four. It’s tough to gauge linemen in practice, but after a couple of preseason outings, it looks like those moves will pay off.

Olivier Vernon, the former Dolphin, has three quarterback hits and a sack in limited reps for the starters in the first two preseason games.

As a team, the Giants have 13 quarterback hits and seven sacks after finishing 30th in that department a year ago. Coaches also have to be encouraged by the play of second-year defensive end Owa Odighizuwa, who has accounted for two of those sacks. Last year’s third-round pick is looking to become the third pass rusher behind Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul, who is out to take care of some unfinished business after re-signing with the team.


From Justin Pugh to Odell Beckham Jr. to Ereck Flowers, the Giants have leaned heavily on their rookies starting from Day 1. This 2016 class -- three on offense and three on defense -- looks to do the same.

Wide receiver Sterling Shepard and safety Darian Thompson (who suffered a shoulder injury last week in Buffalo and is week to week) have been listed as starters, while Eli Apple, the 10th overall pick, is part of a trio of cornerbacks with veterans Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins.  Additionally, linebacker B.J. Goodson, running back Paul Perkins and tight end Jerell Adams are all in open competitions at their respective positions.


“I trust them right now,” McAdoo said. “We’re not going to be afraid to play young players.”


Camp closed, but the competitions did not. One of the main storylines heading into the Bills game was Kelvin Sheppard seeing first-team reps at middle linebacker, a spot held by Jasper Brinkley.

“There is a good competition going on right now,” McAdoo said. “B.J. (Goodson) made a good push [Saturday], but Kelvin and Jasper are battling it out. There is a good competition going on right now.”

Meanwhile, the pecking order at wide receiver is starting to become clearer with Odell Beckham Jr. in the lead role, followed by the rookie Shepard. But players like Myles White and Tavarres King are making pushes for the 53-man roster, which will be announced on Sept. 3. The same goes for running backs and tight ends, two positions with a mix of veterans and players looking for their breakout campaigns.


In his pursuit to play in his first game in almost two years, wide receiver Victor Cruz dressed in full pads for warmups this past weekend against the Bills but did not play. It was a step in the right direction as Cruz deals with a groin issue after separate knee and calf injuries ended his last two seasons.

“We're going to put him back out there and we're going to let him work back into it,” McAdoo said Sunday. “If we have to limit him, then we'll limit him. If not, he's going to go.”

When asked last week what he has to say to fans who think he’s done playing, Cruz said “tune in.”


Left guard Justin Pugh missed the second preseason game with a bruised shoulder but has “intentions” to play in the third against the Jets this Saturday. However, the goal is always to be healthy for Week 1. Bobby Hart, who had been backing up Marshall Newhouse at right tackle, played in his place. Meanwhile, Darian Thompson injured his shoulder in last Saturday’s game and is week to week. Apple is still dealing with a strained leg muscle. Tight end Matt LaCosse (knee) is day to day. Safety Mykkele Thompson suffered a concussion against the Bills. Wide receiver Geremy Davis (hamstring), tight end Will Johnson (stinger), cornerback Leon McFadden (bruised lower leg), defensive end Kerry Wynn (groin) and linebacker J.T. Thomas III (PUP, hamstring) did not make the trip to Buffalo.