Much is made each year of the first time pads come on at training camp; it takes on a bigger meaning in 2020.
Five months after NFL facilities shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Giants strapped up Monday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. It is a pivotal week for the team as they ramp up the intensity level less than a month from their Monday night opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 14.
Here are today's standout players:
QB DANIEL JONES
The second-year quarterback was nearly flawless during 1-on-1 drills, which pitted a receiver against a defensive back. Jones went through two rotations until his first incompletion, throwing red zone touchdowns to Sterling Shepard, Golden Tate, Corey Coleman, Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor, and Alex Bachman. Later, during team drills, Jones showed his decision-making and athleticism when he tucked the ball with nothing open and ran for a touchdown.
QB COLT MCCOY
McCoy matched Jones touchdown-for-touchdown during the aforementioned 1-on-1 drills, connecting with Bachman (twice), Shepard, Cody Core, Derrick Dillon, David Sills V, and newcomers C.J. Board and Tony Brown. McCoy, who signed with the Giants as a free agent this year, was also pretty animated out there, especially on his touchdown pass to Shepard. He brings a lot to the quarterbacks room.
"I think all of our quarterbacks are making improvements every day," coach Joe Judge said. "Colt's done a really good job of sharing his experiences with the other quarterbacks, embracing the system he's in and learning it to the best of his ability. He did a good job today and made some really nice throws for us. He had a good period down there in the one on ones and did some good things in the team competitive periods."
CB DARNAY HOLMES
The rookie is 3-for-3 in making these "Standouts" articles, which is arguably the greatest accomplishment for the former five-star recruit who once scored five touchdowns in four different ways in a California state high school championship game, went on to lead UCLA in interceptions three times while earning his degree in less than three years and becoming an expert chess player for the fun of it. This, by far, stands above them all.
In all seriousness, defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said last week that Holmes has been doing some positive things but was quick to point out he has a "long, long way to go." He wanted to see how Holmes would handle contact when the pads came on because, until today, they practiced in shorts. Well, Holmes passed Monday's test and made a sliding interception in the end zone late in the team period.
"I think he's doing a good job day by day," Judge said today. "We've seen a consistent improvement from him. Like every rookie, they have to get used to the pace and the adjustments within this level of football. But I don't think Darnay is really backing off from any challenge. I've been pleased to see how he comes out every day and competes. I've been pleased to see his energy and enthusiasm on the field, and that competitive nature definitely shows up."
WR STERLING SHEPARD
Anyone involved in Judge's practices describes them as "efficient." There is not a lot of wasted time, with the energy focused on maximizing each rep. That is also a good word for Shepard's practice today. Right off the bat, Shepard set the tone for the 1-on-1 drills with a touchdown catch off the arm of Jones. Shepard looked confident in the new offense, a testament to the work he and the rest of the team accomplished during the virtual off-season.
"I think we're all capable of making plays," Shepard said when asked about the team possibly lacking a true No. 1 receiver. "I think the only thing that's important, when it all boils down, is that can you trust the guy to make a play. I think we have three guys that are able to do that. Another guy who you forgot to mention is Evan Engram. He's basically a wide receiver playing the tight end position. I think we have a lot of guys who can make plays. I don't think we're focused on putting a number on any of us."