EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – A sizeable portion of the crowd that attended the Giants' training camp practice today wore black – and it was not an invading horde of Pittsburgh Steelers or Oakland Raiders fans.
"We had some special guests at practice today, the Army (West Point) football team was here on their day off," Giants coach Pat Shurmur said. "Coach (Jeff) Monken brought his whole team and his staff, and so you saw at the end of practice there the players went over to acknowledge them (by walking over to the stands where the cadets sat). NCAA rules say they couldn't be on the field, because we couldn't give them special treatment, but it was nice for our players to acknowledge those young men.
"I have a fondness in my heart for the academies. I had my appointment to the Naval Academy. I wanted to captain a battleship and shoot the guns and do all that stuff, but I didn't want to be an engineer, so I turned it down. That was a little detail they left out when I was going through it. But, no, these guys are terrific young men and at some point they may be defending our freedom, so our guys, I thought it was great they went over there and acknowledged them."
*Shurmur declined to reveal how much playing time specific players will receive in the preseason opener vs. Cleveland Thursday night in MetLife Stadium, because had not yet discussed it with the players.
Asked specifically about Odell Beckham, Jr., who had ankle surgery last October, Shurmur said, "Every player will receive the consideration necessary with regard to the play time." Moments later, he said, "I have a general blueprint in my brain as to how much I want guys to play, and it changes as we go through the preseason, depending on where they're at. But you like to see them do something, and we'll just see how it plays out."
Regarding second-year backup quarterback Davis Webb, Shurmur said. "He'll play throughout the preseason like the other quarterbacks. … I think along the way I've gained an appreciation for Davis and his skillset and what he's able to do, and so I'm looking forward to seeing it in the game."
*Shurmur did list some general goals for the team and his coaching staff.
"I think it's important that we operate as a staff and getting in and out of the huddle, making sure we've got the right people on the field, and there's a lot to be learned especially between the first and the second preseason game when you're a new staff working together," he said. "We have a blueprint for how we want to do it, and games are uncontrolled settings, and there's things that happen. So the more uncontrolled things that happen in the game, the more opportunity you have to learn, and I think that's what we're looking for. We're trying to balance getting our team ready to play Jacksonville (in the regular-season opener on Sept. 9) with doing the final evaluations on the guys that'll be on our initial 53."
*When he became the head coach of the Browns in 2011, Shurmur did not have an offensive coordinator. He is still calling his own plays here, but he has an experienced coordinator in Mike Shula, who held that position with the Carolina Panthers the previous five seasons.
"That was one of the things that I did that I would do differently the second time around, is make sure I had the full structure of my staff in place," Shurmur said. "Mike is an outstanding coordinator, called plays in a Super Bowl, (and) we're very fortunate that he was available. There's a lot of things similar about the way we ran our system that made it a good mix for us, and I think the Giants should be happy that he's here. But, yes, I didn't have one (my first season) in Cleveland, and so that's not the right way to go. You need a coordinator."
Shula will be in close proximity to Shurmur on game day.
"Mike is going to be on the field, because Mike also talks to the quarterbacks and he's used to being on the field and being able to advise," Shurmur said. "I'm going to have plenty of experienced guys in the press box to see what we need to see up there."
*Shurmur said he'll have no extra emotion because his first game as the Giants coach is against the team he previously coached.
"It's a preseason game against a worthy opponent, and we're just going to go out and try to get better," he said.