- Safeties Jackson and Thompson will rotate in with the first team.**
A day after Bennett Jackson got a look with the first team at safety, the cornerback convert will run with the ones again, and so will rookie fifth-round draft pick Mykkele Thompson, safeties coach David Merritt said today. Merritt and the defensive coaching staff will keep rotating safeties in a competition that is "still wide open."
"Today, for instance, I am going to throw in Bennett Jackson," Merritt said. "He is going to be out there with the ones, and then I'm going to try Mykkele Thompson out with the ones. The thing is that when you look at these linebackers and the corners, they need to feel comfortable about who's going to be back making the calls. So, there's no one that has a job that it is walking in saying, 'Hey, this is your starting job.' Even though a lot of people want to put it on Landon Collins, right now, there is no clarity."
2. Cincinnati week 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. Merritt said the safety competition won't be decided until the coaches can see their players in those preseason settings.
"Always when you're going against an opponent, that's going to be a great eye opener for a lot of these young guys that never played in the NFL, such as a Landon Collins and Mykkele Thompson," Merritt said. "So, once you go against an opponent, again, that's going to clear up a lot of things. Not only just the first preseason game. You go into the second, and then hopefully by the time you roll into that second preseason game, going into the third for sure—hopefully you have this thing solidified."
3. Jackson "fully recovered" from stressful rookie season.
Drafted, injured, waived, practice squad, position change, and now practicing with the first team, Jackson has already been through a lot in his first 15 months as an NFL player. But the cornerback-turned-safety is looking forward to 2015 as he feels "fully recovered" from his knee injury.
"Shoot, I remember the day I got that text to get cut," Jackson said. "It's definitely humbling, but I got another opportunity to go on the practice squad. And then I got another opportunity this year and really you've just got to make the best of all your opportunities."
4. There is a long way to go in nickel cornerback competition.
In addition to safety, the Giants are looking for their next nickel cornerback, a position that continues to grow in importance each year. And like the safeties, the competition still needs time to develop.
"It is really early right now," new cornerbacks coach Tim Walton said. "So we have a long time before we play and what we have to do is evaluate the strengths and areas of improvement that each player needs to do and even at the spots at corner, we try to create competition so we can evaluate. We move guys around so we can evaluate and try to see what works best together, what guys' strengths and weaknesses are and now you get a chance to see it in live action. In OTAs you are just in shorts, so you can't really tell what people can do until this time of the year. So we need to just give that process time to develop and get a true evaluation of it."
5. Cruz started to look like his old self in spring.
Victor Cruz's comeback started to become a reality last week when the wide receiver reported to training camp and participated in team drills for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury last October. So far, Cruz doesn't look like he has lost a step, something wide receiver coach Sean Ryan saw as early as spring.
"I think, to be honest with you, I saw signs of the old Victor as far back as into the spring watching him work out with the training staff. I think his movement is good. The most important thing to me was how confident he'd feel getting in and out of his breaks and really trusting it. And he's got that. He's got that confidence."
6. The game makes sense to Odell.
When Odell Beckham Jr. gets brought up, most people think of his freakish athletic ability that led to "The Catch" during his incredible rookie run. But it was his sense of the game that enabled him to overcome missing the first quarter of the season.
"The thing with him, he gets it," Ryan said. "He's one of these athletic guys who the game makes sense to him. I think, in fact, most games make sense to him. So the fact that he's able to pick things up quickly and do a lot of different things and move around for us, after about a couple weeks here, I realized that this is a football-smart guy."
7. Ayers asked Strahan for an autograph.
Defensive end Robert Ayers Jr., a native of Jersey City who played at nearby Hoboken High School for part of his prep career, grew up watching and idolizing all-time Giants sacks leader Michael Strahan, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last season. And during a visit to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in 2014, Strahan was approached by someone and asked for an autograph. "I went up to him like a fan," Ayers admitted today.