EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Joe Judge so disliked the beginning of this afternoon's practice he ordered the players to repeat it.
Early in the scheduled two-hour practice, Judge gathered the team around him on the field, voiced his displeasure with what he'd seen and directed them to start the workout over – including the stretching.
The two team captains who spoke to media via Zoom afterward considered it the absolute right decision. This was an important session, because after today the Giants have just two full workouts before their Monday night season-opener at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
"I love it, I love it," running back Saquon Barkley said of the second practice beginning. "That's something that we knew we were going to focus on. Everything we do is going to have purpose behind it. Coach didn't like how we started off, so we had to start over. As captains and as leaders of the team, we had to step up to the challenge and I think that we responded. The thing is that on Monday, there won't be any restarts. We have to find a way to have that energy and find a way to have that purpose from the beginning. It shouldn't take a restart for it to happen. But that was the case, that was a challenge that coach presented us with and I believe we responded the right way as a team."
Linebacker Blake Martinez, a five-year veteran and first-year Giant, said "that was definitely the first time" he had participated in a practice reboot.
"It was one of the moments where we didn't come out the right way and we need to kind of refocus and get things going again," Martinez said. "We did that and had to bounce back and show our resolve and our ability to adapt. As a team, understand what we're doing wrong and come back and fix it."
Martinez said Judge's directive achieved his desired result.
"It was really cool how everybody took it in a positive way," he said. "It wasn't kind of like here we go, why are we doing this? It was just like, hey this is what we need to fix, we need to make sure we get this right. I think we all understand how big this first week is to kind of set a statement for ourselves as a team and what we want to be moving throughout this season."
View photos from Thursday's practice heading into Monday Night Football against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
*Asked whether he's decided if Spencer Pulley or Nick Gates will start at center, Judge said, "We're going to give it another day or so. It wouldn't be much fun for you guys if you just knew the answer right away. We're going to see how today's practice goes and hopefully we have an answer by tomorrow."
*Although briefly dissatisfied with what he saw today, Judge cited a list of attributes when asked what he considered the Giants' strength.
"I really view the strength of the team right now as their passion for the game and the way they can play together through adversity," he said. "We've gone through a lot of situations this offseason. I never heard one player complain, I never heard any two players have a disagreement that carries over and affects the way they work for the rest of the day. I think the strength of our team right now is we have a team, and that's something to be proud of. There's a lot of teams out there with a lot of talent that are split in different directions. I like when I see our guys and I see everyone moving in the same direction. There are going to be a lot of things we need to progress on and improve on throughout the year, but right now, I'm proud of the way our guys come to work every day, work together to get better, support each other and challenge each other on a daily basis."
*Linebacker Markus Golden did not practice today because of illness. Four players were limited, including three with hamstring injuries: wide receiver Golden Tate, tight end Levine Toilolo and rookie linebacker Tae Crowder. Defensive back Adrian Colbert has an illness.
The Steelers listed two players on their injury report. Guard Dave DeCastro (knee) and wide receiver Diontae Johnson (foot) did not practice.
*The Giants are 50-40-5 in season openers and have lost their last three Kickoff Weekend games. They are 17-13 in season-opening home games and 50-42-3 in home openers, including 3-7 in MetLife Stadium.