EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** The Giants practiced in full pads for the first time today, an annual training camp milestone that results in some ineffective execution and heightened intensity between the offensive and defensive linemen.
"It was kind of sluggish, to be honest with you, as it usually is the first time in full pads" coach Tom Coughlin said. "Their legs are covered etc. etc. But they have to learn how to handle that, and they will."
All spring – and every spring – the coaches say they can't fully evaluate the linemen until they put the pads on. That process started Sunday when they wore shoulder pads for the first of two practices. Today, they were out of their shorts and wearing football pants with pads. And for the first time, practice included a 9-on-7 run/run-stopping drill with live hitting.
"They're competitive, you don't want to lose, especially when you have 9-on-7 and those types of drills," guard Geoff Schwartz said. "That's what we do - we run the ball and stop the run, so it's pretty intense. We get after it a little bit more. I definitely think our position has to be evaluated with pads on. Our job is to be physical and to move people. The only way you can do that is to practice in pads."
"It was a lot of fun," defensive tackle Kenrick Elis said. "We finally get to be physical without remorse, attacking and stuff. We're the big guys, so we pride ourselves on being physical. When the pads come on, that's what we do, we're physical. It's like gladiators now, battling to the death out there."
That attitude also prevails in the one-one-one pass block/pass rush drills that become more intense when the pads go on.
Photos of players during Giants Training Camp Wednesday.
"In the OTA's, we don't have pads on, we can't really touch each other," defensive end George Selvie said. "So when you get the pads on, you've got to get physical and get ready for the season. It's going to ramp up a little bit. Tempers are going to flare. You got to see who's a man, how he's going to dominate, and how good you are. So you know it's going to get intense when you put the pads on."
"It's a big day, because we get to get that first jolt of hitting somebody in the mouth," right tackle Marshall Newhouse said. "That's just what we're trying to do and these first days everybody is a little rusty. You don't walk around 365 days with pads on, so this is our acclimation period of what that feels like and working with the guy next to us. And you're going against the defensive guy who's also trying to hit you in your pads. So a lot of good, a lot of aggression, a lot stuff we can work on. But it's work, and we're trying to make little baby steps every day."
- Coughlin came up with another novel competition to end practice, having the wide receivers and defensive backs attempt to hit the crossbar with passes. On Sunday, practice concluded with a punt-catching contest between the offensive and defensive linemen.
That was more successful than today's event. Five receivers and five defenders got two passes apiece. Of the 20 throws, just two hit the crossbar, one by wide receiver James Jones and another by cornerback Josh Gordy.
"It wasn't pretty," Coughlin said. "They all tried to kick field goals with the ball, and throw the ball up in the air. Take the ball and zing it. It was an eye-opener, let's put it that way. Not anywhere as competitive as the last thing we did."
Corner Trevin Wade and Odell Beckham Jr. led off the contest passes from 25 yards away. After seeing them badly misfire, Coughlin had the contestants move up five yards for a 20-yard toss. But Chandler Fenner, Rueben Randle, Jayron Hosley, Julian Talley and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie put their throws over or under the bar until Jones hit it on his second try. Gordy than matched him on his first pass before Victor Cruz closed out the proceedings by going 0-for-2.
"I thought I was pretty accurate," said Randle, who was a quarterback in high school. "But there was a lot of wind out there today. Wind kind of took it a little bit, so that's my excuse for the day. Usually I would be able to hit that throw.
"I just threw it right over the thing. Mine landed just over, a little long. I should have dropped my target a little bit, then my velocity would have carried and hit the pole. I think the strength was okay, I just threw it a little bit too high."
Randle has a suggestion for Coughlin to improve the event.
"This is not the easiest competition to go through," Randle said. "He could have given us something else, maybe hit a trash can or something. That thin goal post, that's a hard thing to hit.
"It's definitely a fun way to loosen everybody up after the long day of practice. Especially being the first day of full pads, just have some fun at the end to get everybody back energized."
Coughlin said the idea is to "find stuff to make them compete. Just compete, just always something, in addition to the field, obviously."
- Center Weston Richburg (knee tendinitis), left tackle Ereck Flowers (hip flexor) and safety Nat Berhe (calf) did not practice.
"(Flowers is) day-to-day," Coughlin said. "He's much improved. Whether they let him go tomorrow or not, I don't know. But he was much improved."
With Flowers out, Justin Pugh continues to play left tackle and Adam Gettis is the first-team left guard. Dallas Reynolds stepped in today as the center on the first line.
Linebacker Jameel McClain (stinger) and cornerback Prince Amukamara (groin) left the workout early.
"(McClain has) to run through all the tests," Coughlin said. "Prince had a little strain in the groin area during one-on-one. So, naturally, he was out."
- The Giants will hold two joint practices against the Bengals in Cincinnati next Tuesday and Wednesday, one in full pads and the other in uppers. The teams will then face each other in the preseason opener on Friday.
Coughlin said he and Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis planned most of the schedule in the spring.
"The practice schedule is set, everything is set," Coughlin said. "I'm sure there will be maybe one more phone call, but most of it has all been done."
- Four NFL officials are working the practices this week, led by referee John Parry, the referee in the Giants' victory in Super Bowl XLVI.