EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –** James Jones and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie today renewed acquaintances for the first time in almost six years at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
Jones, the nine-year veteran receiver whom the Giants signed yesterday, and DRC, the eighth-year cornerback in his second season with the team, went head-to-head several times in a training camp practice. They had last squared off in 2009, when Jones' Green Bay Packers faced Rodgers-Cromartie's three times (preseason, regular season and postseason, all in Arizona).
"I remember one time he hit me with a sluggo (slant and go) and went (32) yards on me," DRC said of a play in the preseason game. "I definitely remember that. Things like that stick out, but we definitely had our battles."
"I beat him on the route, but he caught me from behind," Jones said. "I had hit him with a double move and caught the ball on him on a route and then he caught me from behind. He's got a little more speed than me. It was good competition, though."
It still is. Now teammates, they welcome the opportunity to challenge each other and sharpen their skills in one-on-one practice skirmishes.
"Good veteran receiver with a lot smarts and savvy in his routes, so definitely a good fit," Rodgers-Cromartie said of Jones. "Looking at our receiving corps, it's guys I tend to know. When you get a guy like (Jones), old and savvy, he can teach you a lot about the game. It's always good to get a veteran like that to come in and just learn from him."
Jones was quick to return the compliment.
"DRC has been a great player in this league for a long time," he said. "It's good competition, that's what it's all about. In Arizona we had some battles, some shootouts. It's good for me going against him, knocking some of that rust off. He has really good feet, he's a smart player. He understands the game extremely well. When you run a route against him, you have to make sure you're not giving him anything that's going to tip your route off or anything to let him break on the ball."
After each play in which they went against each other today, Jones and DRC would exchange a few words. It wasn't to taunt or boast, but to extend the learning process after the whistle blew.
"As a route runner, you want to understand what he's thinking," Jones said. "If he breaks on a certain route, I want to know what I did to make him think I was stopping. Whether it was the coverage that you were running or if it was something you saw in my route. So, we were just communicating. He asked me why I flattened off my routes and stuff like that. I just let him know, 'I felt you breaking on it so I'm trying to make sure it doesn't get intercepted.'"
"He said he could see when I'm sitting it and ready to break on something, so he cut his route short," DRC said. "I was asking him what made him do that. He gave me a lot of insight on what I am doing that he sees."
The competition – and the lessons – will continue tomorrow and throughout training camp.
Photos from Saturday's Giants Training Camp practice
- Prince Amukamara, the other starting cornerback, had praise for two of the Giants' incumbent receivers, Victor Cruz and Odell Beckham Jr.
"(Cruz) looked great," Amukamara said. "I don't remember if he caught any balls, but he looked great. He looked great running routes. It really doesn't seem like he missed a step. And man, Odell looked great, too. He looks pretty fast also."
In the opening camp practice yesterday, Beckham caught a short pass and zig-zagged his way up the field for a touchdown. In a game, he might or might not have been tackled.
"It's funny you brought that up because we've been arguing about that since this morning," Amukamara said. "He keeps saying that I wasn't a factor and that he was more worried about DRC. It was on film and I think I would have got him, because he did cut back. He just said, 'You touched me and we're not playing two-hand touch.' I told him, 'Alright, next time I'm going to give it to you.' Let me clarify that: I'm going to hit you."
Of course, if he really hits Beckham hard, Amukamara will feel the wrath of the coaching staff.
"Exactly right," he said. "I'd make it seem circumstantial or something, I don't know."
"It was good," he said. "I felt a little rusty. Knock some of the rust off. I understand the offense extremely well, that's a good thing. I finally got my hands on a couple balls, catching the balls. Other than that, it was a typical first day. I got to knock some of the rust off, tomorrow will be better. It feels good to be running around again and having fun."
- Tom Coughlin was not pleased with half of the team's performance.
"I didn't think too many people on offense showed me anything today," he said.
- Wide receiver Preston Parker and tight end Jerome Cunningham were carted off with cramps.
- Two rookie free agents were waived/injured after they were hurt in the opening camp practice yesterday: tight end Matt Lacosse (hamstring) and defensive end Brad Harrah (quad).