The New York Giants today returned to the Quest Diagnostics Training Center for their first practice since Thursday’s preseason opener. Here are the players who stood out:
QB Eli Manning: The veteran looked extra sharp today, kicking things off with a deep throw to running back Saquon Barkley down the right sideline. He had another pinpoint pass to wide receiver Cody Latimer on the opposite side later in practice. Both were placed perfectly. All three were clicking on Sunday as Manning also threw touchdowns during red zone drills to the running back and wide receiver.
“I thought he did a great job,” coach Pat Shurmur said. “I think he’s practiced well throughout [training camp]. Now, after I’ve watched him [during] this three-week stretch, I think he’s throwing the ball better than he did last summer. He’s got a real good grasp of what we want to do offensively. He had another good day out there.”
RB Saquon Barkley: Barkley, who did not play in the preseason opener, wowed the fans in attendance on Sunday and showed once again that his receiving skills are just as good as his ability to break tackles. He made the aforementioned sideline catch look effortless, causing people to forget for a moment that he is a running back. He also found an opening in tight quarters on the red zone touchdown and, oh by the way, still sprinkled in some Saquon-esque runs throughout the day.
WR Cody Latimer: Take your pick for play of the day. The sideline catches by Barkley and Latimer were the highlights the day and were just as good as the throws. Latimer, who also had a touchdown catch in the red zone, had two catches for 36 yards in the preseason opener. Thirty-one of those yards came on a play that jumpstarted the perfect (to the naked eye) touchdown drive by the rookie Daniel Jones.
“Cody is probably one of our most veteran receivers,” Shurmur said. “I think he shows that out there. He knows how to practice. He knows how to compete. He has a unique ability to make a play down the field. I think he does a good job -- there are times when he can get behind the [corner] and he’s open. But then there are other times when he’s in a contested situation where he can make a play on the ball. That’s hugely valuable when you’re a wideout.”
CB Corey Ballentine: First-round pick DeAndre Baker left practice early after feeling something in his knee during non-contact individual drills and is undergoing further tests. In the meantime, Ballentine is there. The sixth-round draft choice saw some time with the first team today in Baker’s place.
“I’ve said it all along he’s a very competitive, tough guy, and because that’s his nature, when we’re playing the uncontrolled game of football, he shows up,” Shurmur said of Ballentine. “That’s why he’s out there. He’s done a good job to this point. We’re hopeful that he’ll stay on the same track and keep getting better.”
“Obviously, I wish him the best,” Ballentine said of Baker. “I don’t know what happened to him, but I’m always ready to step up whenever I’m called on. It felt good to go out there with the ones and get some reps and some practice running with a faster-paced offense. I’m just taking it day by day trying to improve and not take it for granted.”
This came after Ballentine intercepted a Davis Webb pass against the Jets. Safety Jabrill Peppers revealed today that the defense has been awarding turnover trophies, and Ballentine is leading the way in the room. Ballentine said he couldn’t sleep after making his NFL debut.
“I was up thinking about it all night,” Ballentine said. “It’s just such a crazy feeling. Not everybody can say they are in the NFL, or even playing. For me to even get out there on the field, it was just crazy—and to make a play on the ball. There were a lot of emotions going through my head, so I was really excited.”
S Sean Chandler: Chandler also got a trophy today. He intercepted a pass from Jones on the back line during red zone drills. The turnover probably wouldn’t have happened in a live game because the defense would have sacked Jones before the throw, but the defensive back still made a great play on the ball. Chandler, who saw action in all 16 games last season after making the roster as an undrafted rookie from Temple, caught the eye of Shurmur last week in practice. The head coach praised his toughness and competitive spirit.
Check out the best action shots as Big Blue returned to the practice field on Sunday for training camp.