After their first day off, the New York Giants resumed training camp on Tuesday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Coach Pat Shurmur, position coaches Bill McGovern (linebackers) and Craig Johnson (running backs), and players met the media before today’s practice.
Here are five things we learned:
1. Eli not looking to prove people wrong, just wants to win. Eli Manning knows the deal. He is entering his 16th season and the team drafted a quarterback the highest it has since taking him in 2004. Manning’s motivation has nothing to do with any succession plan. Winning is what it has always been about for the two-time Super Bowl MVP.
“It’s the desire to chase that feeling of winning games,” Manning said. “What that feels like in the locker room, what it feels like to get on a hot streak and win four or five in a row. The excitement, the attitude, winning a playoff game, and getting that feeling of winning a championship, and the things you get to experience when you go through those scenarios. I think that’s kind of more the motivation than trying to prove someone else wrong. … It’s more of a personal motivation.”
2. Manning leaning on Latimer after WR injuries. The wide receiver position has dominated talk in the early going of camp, a result of Corey Coleman (torn ACL), Sterling Shepard (fractured thumb), and Darius Slayton (hamstring) suffering injuries. Making the situation even more precarious, Golden Tate is appealing a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Manning, who said he felt bad for Coleman losing his season, sees it as an opportunity for the other receivers while he hopes to get back Slayton and Shepard soon.
“[Shepard has] at least able to run routes and be able throw some routes,” Manning said. “We don’t want him to get in bad habits, he has to catch everything with one hand. Not throwing him the ball but we can have him run the route full speed. I can look at him, I can see his body language and still kind of get some timing stuff. When he comes back from the thumb he won’t be a step behind. I think it’s a great opportunity to get Cody [Latimer] going and get some of these young receivers going. Getting Bennie Fowler and Evan Engram moving around. I think its an opportunity for other guys to step up and see what they do. It hasn’t affected our offense in the sense that we are not able to go out there and execute the against the defense.”
Manning expanded on what Latimer brings to the offense.
“I think he’s come on strong, he can really run, he knows all of his assignments, he’s dialed into what we are doing and he’s made some nice plays for us,” Manning said. “He’s a big target who can also stretch the field and he’s having a great camp so far.”
3. Dexter Lawrence isn’t “everybody else,” and he is getting roommate Daniel Jones to open up. First-round picks Dexter Lawrence and Daniel Jones are rooming together this summer. One being a 342-pound defensive lineman and the other a quarterback, they don’t exactly talk about the play script for the next day’s practice. Rather, they talk about normal roommate things – or as “normal” as it gets between two of the best players in college football over the past couple years.
“I just ask him how his day went,” Lawrence said. “What things he feels like—just normal roommate stuff, like how he did, what he could have done better. We kind of just talk about that, not about what’s the script the next day.”
So what’s Jones like?
“Probably how he is with you all [in the media], a little quiet, but I got him to open up more,” Lawrence said. “He’s accepting that I’m his roommate, and I talk a little trash. I asked him, ‘Do you see us in your face all the time?’ He said, ‘No, because you all can’t touch me,’ or something like that. Just a little trash talk.”
While Jones is living “50 First Dates” and learning a new install every day, Lawrence is getting used to the switch from his 4-3 days at Clemson to the 3-4 scheme of defensive coordinator James Bettcher. Lawrence enjoys the newfound space to make plays as a 3-4 end while the coaches plan to use him for all three downs like he was in college. That means they expect to get some help in rushing the passer, which is rare for a guy his size at the NFL level. Lawrence was asked what makes him different.
“I’m not everybody else in the league,” he said. “I’m Dexter Lawrence II. I’m different. I bring a different attitude to the game. That’s kind of what this summer, well, this spring … [I was] just working on my pass rush, trying to be a three-down guy for the team, just to help win games.”
4. Ximines flashing his natural ability. A third-round draft choice, outside linebacker Oshane Ximines is making the major transition from a small program to the NFL. Shurmur said his natural ability is evident, but it is a long road. Ximines is trying to navigate it as fast as possible.
“Just basically show them that they can use me in whatever they need me to do,” Ximines said of his goals at camp. “Whether it be special teams, whether it be offense or defense, just to prove to them that I can handle any kind of work load, and I’ll just be ready for whenever they call my number. … It’s a lot more complex than what we played at Old Dominion and I am playing a new position, there’s been a learning curve. But the older guys on the team like Lorenzo [Carter], he was just in my shoes last year, and Kareem [Martin], they help me out a lot and they pretty much make it all go pretty smoothly for me.”
5. What does Saquon do for an encore? What do you say to a player who led the NFL in yards from scrimmage as a rookie? A position coach can always think of something. Craig Johnson said the single biggest difference for Saquon Barkley will come from that fact that he’s now been through a year of the grind. That spoke to the larger theme of the Giants being further ahead than where they were at this time last year. The 2019 rookies, Shurmur said, are ahead of where the 2018 class was last July because the systems are in place.
“Where we’ve made the most progress, I think, is the familiarity with the schemes on really all three sides of the ball, so offense, defense and special teams,” Shurmur said. “I think our younger players have come further this year than maybe they did last year. Those are probably the areas (we’ve made the most progress). This is a critical week, as you get into the second week of training camp, so to speak, because our next off day will be Sunday, then we start to get into training camp slash game prep stuff for the preseason game. We’ve got a long way to go, I think, to get where we need to be. But I think it’s a good first week.”