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Notes and observations from OTA practice (5/31)

The weather for Giants practice was in steady decline this week, culminating with a nice drizzle during the second half of the Giants’ sixth OTA on Thursday. Pat Shurmur kept the team outside to deal with the elements, but he did cut short a couple of periods at the end of the practice. The plyers handled the conditions well.

  • It’s not easy tracking James Bettcher’s defensive line rotations because of his variety of personnel groups and formations, but from what I can tell, his primary base defense first down group appears to be Damon Harrison at nose tackle, with Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill at the end positions. Those are three extremely large bodies to stop the run.
  • Kerry Wynn has been very active throughout OTAs. He has gotten more opportunities as a stand-up rusher during the past couple of OTAs and is making the most of it. He has flashed and gotten his hand on the football a lot.
  • The offense definitely had an overall better day on Thursday despite the weather conditions. The timing between the quarterbacks and the receivers was far better than on Wednesday.
  • There were some fun wide receiver and defensive back matchups in the red zone near the start of practice. Cody Latimer made a nice jumping catch to beat Janoris Jenkins on a fade. Sterling Shepard beat Eli Apple on a quick out. Travis Rudolph ran a nice slant to separate from Jeremiah McKinnon for a score.
  • On the final play of one-on-ones, Apple made what looked like was going to be a great play, undercutting an out route by Russell Shepard. It would have been a pick if Manning had not elevated the ball just over Apple’s head to Shepard for the score. It was a wonderful throw by Manning to counter a nice anticipatory play by Apple.
  • With no contact, there are only mental reps with blitz pick up and so far, at least with the naked eye, Saquon Barkley has looked great. He had his first miss I could remember during practice today when he let Kareem Martin get to the quarterback. Barkley knew he made a mistake immediately (before the play even concluded) and you could hear him let out a loud sound of annoyance with himself as soon as he realized his error.
  • Good communication between Sterling Shepard and Manning during blitz drills. Shepard saw that the slot corner lined up over him was looking to blitz, and he let Manning know pre-snap so the offense could make the correct adjustment.
  • Wide receivers coach Tyke Tolbert was very vocal instructing both Hunter Sharp and Roger Lewis during blocking drills.
  • Good heads up play from linebacker Thurston Armbrister, who was ready to catch a pass that deflected into his hands off running back Wayne Gallman for an interception.
  • Marshall Koehn was the kicker today and made 5 of 8 field goals in adverse conditions, with all his misses coming from 48 yards or deeper.
  • The second half of practice was something I’ve haven’t seen before. Most practices use play sheets that the coaches have ahead of time and the players work on during walk-through earlier in the day. Two Minute, which sometimes comes at the end of practice, is always unscripted, but the period before was unscripted on Thursday as well. It was a challenge from Pat Shurmur to himself, and the offensive and defensive coaches and the players, to think on their feet and mimic an in-game situation where they have to call and execute plays on the fly depending on down and distance (which was also not known beforehand).
  • When the third team was on the field during the period, defensive tackle Kristjan Sokoli made a nice play batting a ball at the line of scrimmage and his defensive line mates all started yelling “SKOL” from the sideline. Why? Apparently that’s his nickname. Why is that his nickname? As far as I can tell, it’s because of his very Nordic name, and he looks like a Viking. I can’t really argue with either.
  • Manning missed Evan Engram on a pass over the middle on the final play of the two-minute drill that landed in the arms of Curtis Riley. It gave the defense the win on that series. After the first team got off the field, Manning called his wide receivers together and explained some of the checks and hand signals he might make during a game in those situations so he and the receivers stay on the same page.
  • The final period of practice was the two minute with the second units on offense and defense. The defense came out on top during that period, as well, when Chris Lewis-Harris knocked away a Davis Webb pass to prevent a fourth down conversion. One other play of note during this period was when Webb hit Jerell Adams near the sideline and before Adams even secured the ball, Webb was yelling that he should go out of bounds. You always like to see the quarterback being aware of time and situation.

There are four OTA’s next week before mandatory minicamp the second week of June. Only two weeks of the offseason program remain. Enjoy it!

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