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Cover 3: Takeaways from spring practices

COVER-3-JOE-JUDGE

In this week's edition of Cover 3, the Giants.com crew discusses what we learned from spring practices as the offseason workout program wraps up.

John Schmeelk: The competitive periods were at a controlled tempo so rather than picking out individual players or units, let's just say the team appeared in shape from a good off-season workout program, the rookie class looked the part of NFL players and Daniel Jones' arm was strong - beyond these things, there isn't really much to say.

We can say, however, that in-person Spring work matters. In the interviews Nearly every player who was interviewed as part of our Giants Huddle podcast series talked about how much it helps to be able to take what they are learning in the classroom onto the field. Some players learn better by doing things on the field, which makes these workouts valuable.

It doesn't mean there has to be full-tempo work. In fact, avoiding it might be beneficial to avoid injuries. But it does mean that the team will be more prepared to execute the offense in September than they were last year because of the work being done on the field in June.

Catch up on all the action with must-see photos from minicamp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Dan Salomone: Joe Judge isn't the type of coach to make snap judgments in contact-less Spring practices, but he said communication was the one thing they could work on at this point in the year - and you don't need pads to accomplish this goal. What you do need is a normal off-season – or as close as it can be given the protocols still in place – and that's what NFL clubs got. While they never made excuses, installing a new offense and defense while trying to lay the foundation in a virtual setting was a tall task for the Giants' coaches last year. In 2021, they were able to do it on the field and not in tiny boxes on a computer screen.

"To me with the rookies, one of the most important things they can get right now is the communication with the vets, guys who understand our system a little better, have a little more experience with what we are doing and getting used to being on the field and talking with it," Judge said. "You have to remember when these guys got here a few weeks back, they are naturally just shy guys walking down the hallways trying to learn everyone's faces and names. For them it's not natural to sit down and have a conversation and say, hey, can we try to bridge that gap as much as we can. This is part of the process to make sure when they are on the field there's no hesitation in having the confidence to speak up and make the right check, put yourself and be in the right play call and be all on the same page. In terms of this time in the spring overall with the rookies, this is really valuable."

Lance Medow: There's only so much you can take away from the field portion of Spring football because there's no contact and defensive players aren't able to truly challenge their offensive teammates as they would in training camp. So, the biggest developments from OTAs and mandatory minicamp were the mindset and outlook of players. Nate Solder may have been the player who impressed the most. He seems like a completely new person after opting out in 2020 and taking a break from the daily grind of football. Although he's appreciative the Giants are giving him an opportunity to compete and not getting too caught up in the label of being a starter, I wouldn't mistake that for his lack of drive and hunger to get back on the field. He's definitely a player to watch during training camp.

There also seems to be much more continuity and competition in play this off-season as the bulk of the players returning feel a lot more comfortable with their respective schemes. Daniel Jones is working in the same offense for the second straight year for the first time as a pro and players such as Logan Ryan, Jabrill Peppers and James Bradberry are anxious to see what Patrick Graham can cook up this season with a few more weapons (Adoree Jackson and Aaron Robinson) in the secondary. They may afford Graham the ability to play a bit more man coverage this season.

Jason Garrett brought up an interesting point when he emphasized how turnovers in the first half of the season and the lack of explosive plays overall were two factors that defined the 2020 season. The offense had 15 of their 22 turnovers in the first eight games and recorded just 36 pass plays of 20+ yards (second-fewest in the NFL). Those are big reasons why the team is hoping the additions of Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney help improve a unit that averaged just 17.5 points per game.

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