EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – When Nate Solder steps on the practice field this week, he might well feel he's living in the past instead of the present.
The Giants fly to Detroit tomorrow to hold three days of joint workouts with the Lions before the teams meet in a preseason game Friday night in Ford Field. Solder and the Giants offense will work against the defensive scheme designed by new Detroit head coach Matt Patricia – just as Solder did the previous six seasons when he was New England's left tackle and Patricia was the Patriots' defensive coordinator.
"Matt Patricia is a great coach," Solder said today. "I've had the great opportunity to play against his defenses in practice for years. I have the utmost respect for everything they do. I'm looking forward to it, I think they will expose some things we need to work on. It will show some of the areas we are strong in. That's always good. It's a refining process that we all have to go through."
Coach Pat Shurmur also has experience working with Patricia. During his tenure as Philadelphia's offensive coordinator, the Eagles twice practiced during training camp with New England.
"I've got a good relationship with Matt," Shurmur said. "I've done this twice when I was with the Eagles against the Patriots, and Matt and I worked together on it. The offensive coordinator on one team works with the defensive coordinator on the other, so Matt and I kind of organized our stuff. We're used to the process. So I anticipate it'll be really good work."
Responding to another question, Shurmur said, "These three days of practice are good because it'll be very competitive."
The issue for coaches of both teams is to make sure the players don't get too aggressive with one another. There's always a danger of someone getting hurt, because a player is trying to zealously to impress his coaches, or he has a perceived score to settle.
The Giants and Jets fought so often during a joint practice in 2005 in Albany they never scheduled another one. But three years ago, the Giants worked with the Cincinnati Bengals with no significant incidents.
"My experience practicing against one another is both teams need to be smart," Shurmur said. "Both teams need to understand the tempo of every drill. We're out there competing, but this certainly isn't the first time teams have practiced against one another. … We've got a good feel of the tempo and how we want to do it. We kind of set the ground rules ahead of time, and try to get good work."
The players are unconcerned about extracurricular activity interrupting their work.
"We know what to do, we're veterans, we know what it is," safety Landon Collins said. "It's still preseason and we just want to make it to the season. When it gets there, it gets there. We'll figure it out once we get there."
"My experience has always been positive with it, they (the practices) have been very competitive," Solder said. "Usually, it's a very professional atmosphere where guys play hard between the whistles. I think that's the way you have to keep it, because tensions can rise when you're that competitive at times. That's always a good thing as long as guys are doing it in the spirit of competition.
"I think scrappiness and high level of competition is all really good. I think it all starts to break down when guys are taking cheap shots and doing things that are outside the whistle which are not conducive to a good working relationship with the other team."
*Solder has candidly said he was not pleased with his 16-snap performance at left tackle in the Giants' preseason-opening loss to Cleveland.
"You always have to have the mindset of needing to improve," he said. "I wasn't happy with the way I kind of slowly oozed into that game. I thought that you have to come out firing, ready to go first snap. I wasn't happy with my preparation, I think I need to do better preparing for the game coming up. I think that with every year, you have to get yourself in the mindset of playing four quarters. Your condition, your footwork, your fundamentals, all those things need to continue to ratchet up as the (season) comes closer."
*Eli Manning watched the team periods of practice today as Davis Webb took the first-team snaps.
"That was two-fold," Shurmur said. "It gave him a little less and that allowed the other quarterbacks to get a little more."
*Linebacker Connor Barwin did practice because he was "sore from the game," Shurmur said. Safety Darian Thompson (hamstring), cornerback Donte Deayon (hamstring), tight end Ryan O'Malley (ankle), linebacker Thurston Armbrister (hamstring), and wide receiver Travis Rudolph (quad) did not practice.
Safety Curtis Riley and cornerback William Gay, who missed the Cleveland game with hamstring injuries, returned to practice.
*Karen Francis Bettcher, the mother of Giants defensive coordinator James Bettcher, passed away on Saturday, Aug. 4, in Lakeville, Ind., where she lived most of her life. She was 76. Karen Bettcher is survived by her six children (James is the youngest), 20 grandchildren and 24 great grandchildren.
Mrs. Bettcher's funeral was today in Lakeville. Shurmur said James Bettcher will join the team in Detroit.
Secondary coach Lou Anarumo called the defensive signals in practice today.