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5 things we learned at Training Camp (8/1)

5things-8117.jpg's Dan Salomone highlights five takeaways from Tuesday's press conferences:


>Cover 3: Training Camp in full swing
>Giant sign kicker Mike Nugent
>Coach's expectations for Evan Engram
>Top photos from Giants practice
>Watch post-practice interviews

For the first time all year, kicker Aldrick Rosas, who has never played in a regular-season game, has competition on the roster. Today, the Giants signed Mike Nugent, a 13-year veteran who most recently played the previous six seasons in Cincinnati. While perhaps lighting a fire under the untested Rosas, Nugent is out to prove he is capable of winning the job.

"I don't think I'd be here if that wasn't true, so I'm really excited to get out there and just do my thing and apply what I've learned over the years," said Nugent, whose goal is to play 20 seasons. "At the end of the day, it's kind of like a golf tournament: it's not so much about how everyone else does, it's about how you do."

"We thought at some point in time we were going to add a kicker to create some competition, we just weren't sure when we were going to pull the trigger," coach Ben McAdoo said. "We thought it would be a good idea in the spring to get Aldrick all the kicks, get him a good foundation underneath him and then provide competition in camp."


In the span of a year, the Giants jumped from the No. 30 scoring defense all the way up to No. 2. The top defense, owned by the Patriots, went on to win the Super Bowl. That's where the Giants are trying to get to this season after Seattle's four-year reign came to an end.

"Could it be [the best]? Could be, yes," Collins said. "It's not the best yet. Definitely could be. We are working to get better each and every day. We've got a good offense that we're working against, so each and every day we're trying to get better."


If there was ever a question about who was the frontrunner to start opposite Collins, an All-Pro safety, the matter has been put to bed in training camp. Darian Thompson has taken all the first-team reps so far, and Collins seemed pretty fired up about their potential together.

"We don't make any mistakes," Collins said. "That's the biggest thing. We complement each other in that area. If I'm calling something wrong, he always fixes me. Everybody looks at me like I'm that guy back there, but he's my right-hand man. So it's like, if I mess up, he's got me. If he messes up, I got him. The only time we mess up is when we both mess up and both make the wrong calls at the same time. We're always on the same page. When we're in the film room, we're sitting right next to each other."


Wide receiver Dwayne Harris, who made the Pro Bowl as a special teamer last season, left practice with an injured shoulder and did not return. Meanwhile, running back Shane Vereen and defensive end Devin Taylor, the former Lion who signed with the Giants at the end of May, are sore with lower body injuries and missed practice.


From college to the pros, all great defensive lines have a healthy rotation that can bring wave after wave of players with fresh legs. If there was one thing missing from the Giants' defense last year, it was that. Defensive ends Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul rarely left the field, and this year, the Giants also have to replace defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins. Robert Thomas is the next man up right now next to Damon Harrison.

"[Thomas is] a big man. He's built low to the ground, he has that natural type of leverage. He's a little bit of a spark plug," McAdoo said. "He has some good, natural lateral quickness. He's still learning our techniques, he hasn't played a lot in pads here. He missed some significant time when he first came on last year for us. But he's a guy that's going to keep getting better for us and has some upside."

McAdoo added: "I feel that he may be able to go in and do some of Snacks' role. Asking anybody to be Snacks is a challenge. But he can also play off of him, he has some flexibility there."

Meanwhile, rookie second-round pick Dalvin Tomlinson is waiting in the wings.

"I think just in football in general, no matter what level, everybody wants to start," he said. "Just being a football player and being so competitive, you want to start. I feel like we're going to have a great rotation on the defensive front just like I did at Alabama. It's going to be a great rotation. We have great defensive tackles and great defensive ends. It's going to be a rotation all the way across the board."

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