Friday looked and smelled like football. On Monday, when the full pads come on, it will sound like it, too.
Beforehand, the New York Giants ramped up training camp activities today with their first practice in both helmets and "shell" pads. They held live 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, which provided the first on-field highlights of 2020.
Here are the standout players from the practice:
QB Daniel Jones
The bulked-up quarterback stands a little taller and straighter these days. This is his team now, and throughout the virtual off-season, coaches and teammates spoke about his development as a leader. Those video conferences are over. Now they can see his command in person. It was evident Friday as the second-year pro, who led all rookies in touchdown passes last year, connected with tight end Evan Engram and wide receiver Darius Slayton in the end zone for scores.
"The thing you just like so much about Daniel is just his approach," offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said. "He clearly has ability. He's someone who's big, he's strong, he's athletic, he has a really good arm. He has all the tools you're looking for. But the thing that really jumps out is the approach that he takes every day. Like I said, he's a ball guy. He loves ball. He works very hard at it and he's always trying to refine his skills. He's always trying to gain more knowledge and find a way to become a better quarterback, individually and for our team. That's what you get most excited about."
CB Corey Ballentine
A sixth-round pick in 2019, Ballentine got his second season off to a strong start. He broke up a few passes today, including a touchdown-saver during work in the red zone.
"The thing that I appreciate about Corey is that he wants to be coached," defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said. "He has come to me and said, 'I want to be coached. I want to know, and I want feel like I can go out there and play confident.' I'm making sure that he feels confident when he goes out, giving him instruction, and making sure that he can give it back to me. He's a guy who has some ability. He's in the mix, just like everybody else is, to play a big role for us. I'm excited to work with him."
View the best photos from Friday's training camp practice.
WR Darius Slayton
The promising second-year pro made the catch of the day, winning a jump ball from Jones in the back-right corner of the end zone. With a full season under his belt, one in which he tied for the NFL rookie lead in touchdown catches, Slayton looks to develop even further in Year 2.
"At this point of time last year, he hadn't played an NFL snap," wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert said. "Now, he has some game experience. He can go out there and he knows the speed of the game and how the defensive backs play in the NFL. That's, to me, the biggest difference. He's a smart guy. He's starting the new offense, as we all are. But we're looking forward to Darius getting to compete. Last year was last year. It's gone. This is a new year. He's out there competing with everybody else. Again, being healthy is the biggest thing. If we can stay healthy and have all our guys out there on the field, I think we'll go out there and we'll play pretty hard and play well. Let's see what happens."
TE Evan Engram
Engram caught Jones' first touchdown pass of the session, which was spent largely in the red zone and close to the goal line.
"I think Evan is in the mindset that he should be in, and that's just getting better today," tight ends coach Freddie Kitchens said. "We're trying to stay in the moment here with every position, with every player, with every coach, and keep our head down and just work to get better each and every day. Evan has done a good job up to this point in doing that. He did a hell of a job this summer in rehabbing and getting back to where he's at right now, and just kind of taking it day to day and getting better with his releases, his hand placement, with everything. Every aspect of Evan's game, we want to try to get better at each and every day. Evan's done an unbelievable job in staying focused and concentrating on, even more specific to every day, just every rep. He's done a good job and we're just going to stay in the moment."
CB Darnay Holmes
The rookie fourth-round pick, who is a master chess player and graduated from UCLA in less than three years, showed his smarts on a nice pass breakup on the sideline during a goal line drill.
"We're cross-training him right now, outside and inside, as all our players are doing right now," Henderson said. "He's doing a good job in camp, but he has a long, long way to go. We haven't even gotten to the pads yet to really see. That'll be when you can really see what you have in those guys, is when we put the pads on and it's a little more competitive, it's real and he's going against guys. Right now, we've just been in shorts. He's been positive, doing some positive things. He has some growing to do. But we'll see what he is when we put the pads on and actually compete against each other."
RB Saquon Barkley did Saquon Barkley things with some explosive runs to the second and third levels…WR Derrick Dillon made a pair of nice catches early in practice from QB Alex Tanney, including one where he went full-extension on the ground…S Jabrill Peppers prevented a score with a pass breakup in the end zone…DB Dravon Askew-Henry followed up shortly after that with a PD of his own…QB Cooper Rush threaded the needle from close range on a TD pass to WR Austin Mack.
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