The New York Giants' 2015 training camp is off and running, and it's all systems go for Week 1.
With four practices in the bag, the players will enjoy their first day off today before resuming in full pads on Wednesday. Until then, here are five major takeaways from the first week as the players recharge their batteries.
1. Cruz looks like old self; Jones bolsters WR depth.
The Giants held their first practice of training camp on Friday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center, and fans greeted Victor Cruz with a warm welcome as he returned to team activities for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury last October. While he is on a prescribed "pitch count" this summer, Cruz looks like he hasn't missed a step and maybe even gained one.
Meanwhile, the Giants added another piece to their deep wide receiver corps with the signing of veteran James Jones, who has more career catches, receiving yards and touchdowns than anyone on the roster. After spending seven of his eight NFL seasons in Green Bay, Jones was reunited with former Packers assistant coach and current Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, making it a perfect fit for the offense.
2. Jackson steps up in "wide open" safety competition.
Continuing the transition from cornerback in his second season, Bennett Jackson has become a factor in the "wide open" safety competition, in the words of position coach David Merritt.
After the spring and the first few days of camp consisted of mainly rookie Landon Collins and Cooper Taylor on the top tandem, Jackson rotated in there on Sunday, holding the position again on Monday while rookie Mykkele Thompson also got a look on the first team. It's all part of the plan to see what the Giants have after returning none of their starting safeties, and coaches won't get a true evaluation until they get into some preseason games.
3. First-rounder Flowers missed Monday with a hip flexor; other injury notes.
Ninth overall draft pick Ereck Flowers, who has been playing left tackle in place of an injured Will Beatty, sat out with a hip flexor issue during Monday's training camp practice. Afterwards, coach Tom Coughlin said, "hopefully, it's just a short amount of time."
In place of Flowers, Justin Pugh took over left tackle after having played left guard throughout the spring and so far in training camp. Of course, Pugh is no stranger to tackle, having started his first two NFL seasons on the right side and spending his college career at Syracuse on the left. Meanwhile, Adam Gettis assumed the left guard spot after having a strong practice on Sunday, and Geoff Schwartz, who missed Sunday's practice, was back in at right guard.
4. Offense sets the bar at 28 points per game.
In his first run as offensive coordinator, McAdoo turned the Giants into a top-10 team offensively and did so without Cruz for the majority of the season. With the wide receiver coming back healthy and Odell Beckham Jr. looking to build on his AP Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign, quarterback Eli Manning said he has more weapons now than any of his previous 11 seasons. Meanwhile, "28" is becoming the magic number in today's NFL.
"I expect our offense to score points," general manager Jerry Reese said. "If you don't score 28 points in this league, it's hard to win. Those 14-10 games, there are not a lot of those games left around the National Football League in light of how the rules favor the offense mostly, how the rules are made now. So you have to score points."
5. Cincinnati will be eye-opening.
In one week, the Giants will travel to Cincinnati for two joint practices with the Bengals before their preseason game on Friday, Aug. 14. That's when position competitions will really start to take off, especially for a new defense under Steve Spagnuolo.
"I think anytime we make mistakes, it's important to correct them before they get bigger later," cornerback Prince Amukamara said. "I think the biggest measuring tool will be how we come out versus the Bengals."
View the best images from the first four Training Camp practices