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5 things we learned at OTA practice (6/9)

Posted Jun 9, 2016

Giants.com highlights five takeaways from Thursday's OTA practice:    


Nine down. One to go.

As spring football winds down, the New York Giants held their ninth practice of organized team activities on Thursday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. On a windy day not uncommon to East Rutherford, the longest-tenured Giant on defense intercepted the longest-tenured Giant on offense for the highlight of the afternoon.

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It was the penultimate practice of OTAs before Friday’s finale and next week’s mandatory minicamp (June 14-16). There was plenty of other action, so let’s get to it. Here are five things we learned from OTA No. 9:

1. JPP SCORED ON INT RETURN

During a simulated two-minute drill with the first-team offense vs. first-team defense, Jason Pierre-Paul intercepted quarterback Eli Manning and returned it the other way for what would have been a touchdown.

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The defensive end initially broke up the pass at the line of scrimmage, tipping it to himself, as the defense won the drill. Pierre-Paul has two career interceptions, both of which he returned for touchdowns. The first was in Week 8 of the 2012 season against Dallas at Cowboys Stadium, where he returned it 28 yards off Tony Romo in a 29-24 victory.

His second was against the Packers at home in Week 11 of 2013, returning it 24 yards off Scott Tolzien in a 27-13 win.

2. DEAYON DID IT AGAIN

After the first-team defense walked off with a win, the second unit came on the field and did it again. This time cornerback Donte Deayon intercepted backup quarterback Ryan Nassib on a deep pass down the right side. It was Deayon’s second interception of the week and one of a handful of good plays throughout OTAs by the undrafted rookie from Boise State. In OTA No. 7 on Monday, he notched a pick off Nassib on a tipped ball.

Meanwhile, coach Ben McAdoo has to be encouraged by the defense’s performance in the simulated setting after the Giants lost many of their games last year in the final minutes and, in some cases, seconds. Rookie safety Darian Thompson, their third-round pick also from Boise State, made a similar play on Monday and came down with a walk-off interception.

3. SHEPARD FOUND THE END ZONE

Despite Pierre-Paul’s play, Manning had the touch today at practice. There will be more on those highlights later, but the main one went to rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard. The second-round draft pick out of Oklahoma found an opening in the back of the end zone, where Manning zipped the ball to him for the score during team drills.

That’s the second consecutive day -- and third of four practices -- that the pair have connected on touchdowns in the red zone, or the “green” zone as it’s called around here.

4. DRC SAW REPS IN THE SLOT

Now’s the time of year to get a look at everything. While the Giants parted ways with Prince Amukamara in free agency, they have a variety of options at cornerback with the additions of veteran Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple, the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. “When you have two corners in this league, you’re short one,” general manager Jerry Reese said on draft night.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie makes it at least three and today the nine-year veteran took reps in the slot in one of the packages, something he did during his days with the Eagles. Trevin Wade, who last year played in all 16 games for the first time in his five-year career, often manned that role in 2015 for the Giants.

5. BEST OF THE REST

The tight ends featured prominently in practice today with Will Tye diving for a catch over the middle, similar to a play he made yesterday from Manning. Meanwhile, hybrid fullback Will Johnson also connected with the franchise quarterback down the middle.

A former Steeler, Johnson signed with the team in early April and has played in 63 games with 21 career starts in the regular season. On the defensive side, Bennett Jackson, a cornerback-turned-safety, broke up a Nassib pass that came close to being an interception in the two-minute drill.