The Giants returned to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Friday for Day 3 of training camp.
Head Coach Brian Daboll, wide receiver Kadarius Toney and safety Xavier McKinney each spent time talking to the media.
After several former players visited with the team during the spring, another Giants alumni was at the facility Friday. Ring of Honor wide receiver Amani Toomer met with Daboll before addressing the team following the conclusion of practice.
Here is what we learned on Friday:
1. McKinney reached out to Eric Weddle in offseason
Xavier McKinney was a leader on defense last season, finishing third on the team with 93 total tackles and recording a team-high five interceptions. McKinney spoke to the media for the first time since OTAs on Friday, when he shared Wink Martindale connected him with former Baltimore Ravens safety Eric Weddle in the offseason so he could learn more about the new defense.
"I actually talked to (Former Ravens Safety) Eric Weddle a couple times during the offseason," said the young safety. "He helped me a lot actually with just kind of how to disguise certain things and how to be on the same page with (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale), and things like that. We had good convo. He really helped me out in terms of looking at film, studying film, how he did it when he had Wink, so he was really helpful."
Weddle spent three seasons with the Ravens, but only one while Martindale served as Baltimore's defensive coordinator. The former NFL safety finished third on the team in total tackles that year while starting all 16 games, and was named to his sixth and final Pro Bowl. Following Weddle's departure in Baltimore, the Ravens saw very solid play out of Chuck Clark at the safety position.
"I am definitely still learning it, but I definitely feel a lot more comfortable because I'm able to kind of do everything," McKinney stated about his feel for the new defense. "That's kind of been my main focus for a couple years now. Like I said, I'm still a little bit rusty. I'm still learning through some things. It's definitely been fun being able to be everywhere on the field. It's something I always like doing."
2. Holmes excelling at start of camp
The Giants are three practices into training camp and, so far, Darnay Holmes has made a highlight-reel play at every one. During Wednesday's practice, Holmes made a diving interception. He followed that up with an interception and a diving pass breakup yesterday. On Friday, Holmes read a screen play perfectly, stepping in front of the receiver to intercept the pass and bring it the other way for a touchdown.
Holmes has started nine total games across his first two seasons, registering seven total pass breakups and an interception in each campaign. The 24-year-old is competing for a starting role this season.
3. Toney says there's "a lot of juice" in new offense
Kadarius Toney flashed his potential during Weeks 4-5 last season, a two-week stretch in which he caught 16 passes for 267 yards. The young receiver has had a strong start to camp, making several good catches on passes from Daniel Jones each day at practice. Daboll and OC Mike Kafka came from two stellar offenses in Buffalo and Kansas City, respectively, and so far in camp, Toney and the rest of the offense can feel the two coaches' impact on the unit.
"I feel like it's a lot of energy they brought into the building," Toney said about the new coaching staff. "A lot of flexibility, I guess you could say. It's more open. I really enjoy it… It definitely is a lot of fun out there. A lot of juice, a lot of energy. I like that they came here honestly."
After missing spring workouts due to an injury, Toney's first appearance on the field for Daboll and the new coaching staff came earlier this week. But just because he wasn't practicing earlier in the offseason doesn't mean he wasn't building a strong relationship with his new head coach.
"He's a good person. He cares about his teammates. And we have good communication, him and I," Daboll stated about the second-year receiver. "He likes football. He likes music. I think he's a very loyal, a loyal guy. And you got to build trust with KT. And he had to build trust with me. Really no different than a lot of guys. Trust is probably one of the most important things in any relationship you can build. I've told you from day one, I've been very happy with KT, his approach, how he is as a person, first and foremost, because that's what matters to me. We've seen him in college. We evaluated him. He has a tremendous skillset. He's smart. We move him around quite a bit. He's a good young player that we're going to help develop anyway we can both on and off the field."
View top photos from Day 3 of training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
4. McKinney, Jones play coordinator
Near the end of practice on Thursday, Daboll did something a little different. At the very end of the session, the head coach cut off the communication between the two coordinators and the two players wearing the green dots, McKinney and Daniel Jones, leaving the players responsible for calling the play. The purpose of this was to help prepare the two young leaders for that situation in case the headset or walkie-talkie communication during a game cuts out, something that does happen periodically.
"I think signal callers (Safety Xavier McKinney) X and (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones), they're relaying plays in at times to the players. Just put them on the other end of it, I think there's some friendly competition fire there and the guys get a kick out of it," the head coach said Friday morning. "There was a lot of energy there at the end of practice. I asked X this morning if he liked his play call, and Daniel too, and usually you like it when it works, and you don't when it doesn't. But X was pretty firm on his call. We'll do that as well. We'll have the walkie talkies or headsets out there for our players and there will be times – and I did it in the Spring – where I will purposely cut them off on (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) and (Offensive Coordinator Mike) Kafta because it could happen in a game like that and now they have to take control and be able to operate and not panic and all the hand gestures. Just go out and make sure you have a play all in mind and be able to lead the team. "
Speaking of the green dots, McKinney has been wearing it on defense since OTAs. While this is the first time the safety has been the defensive play-caller since entering the NFL, he is not new to being the player to receive the signals from the sideline.
"I talked to Wink and it's not something that's new to me," McKinney told reporters. "I've done it before – I did it at 'Bama. It's not something that's surprising or it's not something that's too hard. It's different when you've got grown men in the huddle and you're trying to get the call to everybody. Obviously being on the backend of it, you might have to run 30-yards and run back to get the play to everybody. It's not too unusual to me."
5. Daboll has confidence in WR Darius Slayton
Training camp serves as the time for everyone on the team, players and coaches alike, to prepare for the upcoming season. Daboll highlighted that Friday morning when he was asked about wide receiver Darius Slayton dropping a couple passes in the first few days of camp, and reiterated that it's more important to see how a player responds to a negative play than the play itself. As for Slayton in particular, the fourth-year receiver bounced back during Thursday's practice by catching a short touchdown pass from Jones.
"I have confidence in Slay. We all saw he had a couple of drops out there, but that's what practice is for," Daboll stated. "But again, we're in the second day. A lot of mistakes that will be made – some physical, some mental. And that's why you have coaches. You have so many coaches on a football team. Coaching is technique and fundamentals and figuring out reasons why. It's easy to come back – a player comes back – and you say, 'You need to block this guy, or you need to catch the ball," but find out the details, coach it up. He's worked real hard, and he'll continue to work. And he'll get reps throughout camp…
"Darius is in a good spot. Again, there's, dropping a ball and throwing a bad pass, that's so easy for everybody to see and it's right there in the open. But how you respond, and I believe right there at the end, we had a call it period when he came down and ran a little shallow, and Daniel scrambled out and he made a big play. So being able to respond to that is important."
Giants Fan Fest returns to Metlife Stadium
Free and open to the public, the Giants Fan Fest will feature a Blue & White intrasquad scrimmage, autographs by Giants Legends, and a fireworks show.