Notes and observations from minicamp (6/14)

Photos from the Giants final practice of mandatory minicamp

It was the final day of the offseason program for the New York Football Giants with the third day of minicamp practice. As expected, practice was abbreviated with only a few periods of team play. We will not see the team on the field again for another six weeks. Enjoy this last taste before training camp!

• Eli Manning basically got the day off today other than some extra throws on the side with Odell Beckham Jr. Davis Webb got all the throws with the first team and made the most of it. I thought it was one of his sharper practices of the spring. He was on time with the football, including a dart Rhett Ellison in the end zone for a touchdown that got there right before B.J. Goodson did.

• My favorite throw of the day for Webb came later in red zone drills, when he placed the ball perfectly over the head of Donte Deayon (who I think got a fingertip on the ball) and into the hands of Kyle Carter in the corner of the end zone. It was perfect touch and placement for Webb. I’ve written about those layering drills the quarterbacks have done with the throwing net throughout the spring and it paid dividends on that throw. 

• The kickers split the work on the final day of minicamp with Aldrick Rosas and Marshall Koehn with four attempts each between 34 and 44 yards. Rosas connected on three of his four kicks, and Koehn made two of four. The competition will continue later in the summer. The Giants, like every other NFL team, need a consistent placekicker to help win tight games. 

• The pads haven’t come on yet, but I already love the intensity of Will Hernandez. He is a competitor, and much like Richie Seubert, he is right in the middle of a lot of stuff going on during practice. You love to see that edge from a rookie. 

A few overall notes from the last couple days and trends from the spring: 

• I’ve seen Kyle Lauletta get more and more comfortable as the offseason program progressed. Early on, it looked like things were moving a little fast for him, and his accuracy suffered, but he has been much sharper at the end of OTAs and through minicamp. He looks a lot more like the guy I saw on film from Richmond. He relies on anticipation and timing to succeed, so it makes sense it took a little time to come together. 

• Throughout the spring, I’ve enjoyed watching the officials at practice have conversations with the players, which results in a real give and take on how certain rules are officiated and why certain calls were made. I think it is a great tool for players to learn from their mistakes. 

• There is no doubt in my mind that William Gay and Michael Thomas have emerged as the real vocal leaders of the secondary group. I hear those two guys talking it up all the time between plays, getting their teammates ready to go and motivating them. I love the attitude of both veterans. 

• I mentioned this before, but I also want to reiterate how much I appreciate the coaching style of secondary coaches Lou Anarumo and Deshea Townsend. Both guys are very active coaching up their players on the field after every play rather than waiting until the film room later in the day. I’ve spoken to a number of players who have told me how much that helps them correct their mistakes quickly and understand why the mistakes occurred. 

• Two of the most important competitions during the spring were for the slot corner spot and the second safety spot next to Landon Collins. In the slot, William Gay appears to be the starter for now, but Donte Deayon, Grant Haley and B.W. Webb have all shown up at different times. At safety, the depth chart has been moving all over the place with holdovers Andrew Adams and Darian Thompson getting plenty of chances. Do not sleep on three newcomers: Michael Thomas, Orion Stewart and Curtis Riley. Expect a good competition at training camp. 

• I’ve loved what I’ve seen from wide receivers Hunter Sharp and Roger Lewis Jr. at times this spring, but if I had to guess, the first 11 personnel alignment we’ll see on the field at the end of July will feature Odell Beckham Jr., Cody Latimer and Sterling Shepard. Latimer has looked like someone the Giants can depend on this year. 

• Pat Shurmur is going to throw to his running backs down the field. The wheel route has been prevalent the last few weeks, and not just for Saquon Barkley, who continues to destroy linebackers in one-on-one coverage for big gains. Wayne Gallman and others have had similar success on those plays. 

• My one big takeaway about the offense: it is diverse and versatile. The team should be able to run the ball better with the improved offensive line and Saquon Barkley. There are plenty of short and intermediate passes in the playbook, some with west coast principles and others not. There will be a ton of play action. Most importantly, there are plenty of designed plays that give the quarterback a chance to get the ball downfield. If you can do all those things, the offense will be tough to stop. Also, Eli Manning still has gas left in the tank. He has looked pretty darn good in the spring. 

• My one big takeaway from the defense: the number of varied blitzes James Bettcher has in his arsenal is off the charts. Whether it is linebackers, safeties or slot corners, a blitz can come from anywhere at any time. I do not envy quarterbacks having to read those types of plays. One thing that stood out when I talked to Bettcher: he said his blitzes aren’t designed to get a free runner every time. Rather, they are designed to create one-on-one matchups that will give his players a chance to win. He knows eventually his guys will have to beat the opponent, and it is his job to give them the best chance to do it. We’ll see how consistently Giants pass rushers can win those matchups when the pads come on.

Enjoy your next six weeks everyone! The next practice report comes your way on July 26.

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