The Giants.com crew discusses the major takeaways from the first week of training camp.
John Schmeelk: You can’t make too much out of the first few days of camp, especially with only two practices in pads. I want to focus on the big people up front, however, because we are really seeing that group for the first time in pads doing what they would do in a real football game. They work in the spring, but how they perform without pads is only a glimpse. Many speed players dominate as rushers in the spring, but then disappear when the pads come on and offensive linemen get physical with them in the summer.
The impact of having Nate Solder and Mike Remmers on the field together as the starting offensive tackles is obvious even to the untrained eye. While neither player has a Pro Bowl on his resume, when they are on the field, the pocket is much cleaner and the outside rushers have to work a lot harder to get to the quarterback. Both players missed the spring OTA sessions and minicamp due to injury, and it is good to see both on the field and moving well.
On the other side of the ball, it is the first time we are seeing the defensive linemen do what they do with pads on and use their physicality to its full extent. Dexter Lawrence has stood out. Not only is Lawrence the biggest of the interior defensive linemen, it looks like he might have the best movement skills of the group. His combination of size, quickness and explosiveness is better than any other defensive tackle I’ve seen since I started working for the team in 2007. He has pass rush potential, and we will see him at the three technique, with Tomlinson at nose tackle, a lot more than maybe anticipated.
Dan Salomone: Major checkpoints on the NFL calendar like training camp are always interesting because it’s a time to check the temperature of the team. General manager Dave Gettleman gave his state of the team address this week and was asked what constitutes success in 2019 for the New York Giants. It’s an interesting question at an interesting time for the organization, which has overhauled the roster over the last year and a half under the new regime. Rather than flippantly talk about the “drive for five” or anything along those lines, Gettleman narrowed the scope.
“Improvement,” he said. “You would like to think that guys like Saquon (Barkley), and Will (Hernandez), and B.J. (Hill), and Lorenzo (Carter), and RJ McIntosh are going to make a significant jump. That old saying from ‘year one to year two.’ You’d like to think that those three first-rounders are the next man, and Julian (Love) and Corey (Ballentine) can come in to make us better. It’s about just to continue improvement. I’m not going to put a record on it. It’s not fair, and it’s not fair to the kids.”
“Improvement” might not entirely quench the thirst of every fan right now, considering the team’s record the past two seasons, but it’s reality. Rome wasn’t built in a day. You have to go brick by brick and not skip any steps if you want to build a real foundation.
Along the way, the Giants will have to replace a cornerstone with what they hope is another that can handle the weight. Gettleman was asked about how he prepares himself and the organization for the day when they transition from Eli Manning to Daniel Jones.
“As long as you do everything the right way, that’s how you prepare yourself,” he said. “You, in your mind, go through the things you need to go through, and you do it like a pro, you do it like a pro. But there is always the human piece of this that makes it difficult.”
Again, Gettleman didn’t put himself in a box as to when that will be.
“At the end of the day, it’s going to be clear,” Gettleman said. “When anything happens, you’ve got to, don’t lock your knees and just go.”
Lance Medow: Takeaways from first week of camp?
If there’s one thing certain in the NFL, it’s that you can’t predict the injury bug and, unfortunately, the Giants became the latest team to learn that the hard way as both Sterling Shepard and Corey Coleman suffered injuries during the very first training camp practice. Shepard fractured his left thumb, while Coleman tore his ACL and will miss the entire season. As if that wasn’t enough to digest, rookie Darius Slayton is nursing a hamstring injury, and in the team’s second training camp practice, Brittan Golden suffered a groin injury. So what’s the biggest takeaway from the first week of camp? You can never have enough depth at any position.
Fortunately for the Giants, entering camp, wide receiver was one of the deepest positons on the roster and that has proven true thus far. Cody Latimer and Russell Shepard have both taken advantage of their reps and have consistently made plays when their number is called. Although their career stats may not jump off the page, those two shouldn’t be overlooked. Last season, Shepard filled in admirably when other receivers were sidelined, and Latimer also showed some flashes once he returned from injured reserve in late December, highlighted by a six-reception, 72-yard performance in the season finale against the Cowboys. Both players are capable of filling the voids left behind by Sterling Shepard, Corey Coleman and Golden Tate, depending on how the appeal of his four-game suspension plays out.
In addition to Russell Shepard and Latimer, the Giants will also take closer looks at Bennie Fowler, who was on the team last season; Alonzo Russell, who spent the bulk of last year on the Giants practice squad and has made a number of plays in the first week of camp; as well as newcomer TJ Jones, who is a polished vet that spent the last few seasons with the Lions. Jones also provides the Giants with another option in the return game.
While you never like to see players suffer injuries early in camp, the positive aspect is it now gives other receivers an opportunity to step up and shine. When wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert was asked about the tone of his room, he said: “Actually, there’s a little bit more excitement in the room than I would expect there to be because the guys are more excited about the extra reps they’ll be getting. I’m excited equally about coaching those guys. We’ll give some other guys some other reps, who don’t normally get as many reps. Now you get to coach them more, give them more reps, and it makes it exciting.” Now it’s time for that excitement to turn into production on the field.