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Practice Notes (8/3): Defense sets the tone

The team took off the pads for Friday's pracice after two straight days wearing them. The team will likely put the pads back on tomorrow before an off-day on Sunday. It was also the second straight morning practice. Fans were in attendance at practice on what was another very hot and humid day at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

-       Friday's practice belonged to the defense. The offense didn't look in sync for a second straight days. There were three interceptions thrown (see my Top Performers Story for more details on those), too many defensive players in the backfield, a ton of procedural penalties, and not nearly enough completed passes. There was another play where Pat Shurmur had to order the offense to rehuddle when a player didn't notice he had to go into motion presnap. He did not appear thrilled.

-       Quarterback Eli Manning had the chance to make two big plays during the first team period. On a pass from the pocket, wide receiver Sterling Shepard had corerback Eli Apple beat over the top, but the pass was underthrown, which gave Apple a chance to recover and knock the pass away. A play later, Manning rolled to his right and tried to hit tight end Evan Engram on a deep throw going towards the sideline. Safety (at least on that play) William Gay was able to come over and knock the ball away, which also might have been slightly underthrown. Engram had another play later in practice, a pass on the sideline near the goal line that he could have come down with after jumping over Gay, but he couldn't reel it in.

-       Gay saw some time as the first team safety, with BW Webb stepping in as the slot corner. Darian Thompson also saw first team safety work. It looks like James Bettcher and the rest of the coaching staff is still searching for the best combination in the secondary.

-       Nice defensive play by cornerback Chris Lewi-Harris, who at just 5'9 and 187 pounds was singled up on 6'5, 254 pound tight end Jerell Adams in the red zone. Lewis-Harris was in perfect position and kept Adams trapped against the sideline, and prevented the completion. Great technique.

-       Cornerback Eli Apple made a nice play during red zone drills. He was dropped in zone when tight end Evan Engram settled down in front of him. Apple closed quickly and dove around Engram to get his hand on a well thrown ball to knock it away. He got up and waived his index finger like Dikembe Mutombo after the textbook coverage.

-       There were a few of highlight offensive plays from the first group. Sterling Shepard made a nice sliding catch, but that only happened after what would have been a sack for cornerback BW Webb.

-       Saquon Barkley got lined up outside on Janoris Jenkins and executed a perfect slant route and received a pinpoint pass from Manning for what could have been a big run after catch. He is an advanced route runner and very tough cover outside.

-       Odell Beckham Jr. caught a couple of slant routes, but it was a diving catch in the corner of the end zone after coming across the formation that was the nicest grab. The officials ruled him inbounds, with his knee hitting before the white sideline.

-       A flag was thrown on the offense on that Beckham touchdown, and Eli Apple (who was not covering Beckham on the play) went over to see what the penalty was and was amicably chatting with the official as the rest of the first defense left the field. Defensive backs coach Lou Anarumo came over and playfully pulled Apple away from the official with a joking "c'mon knucklehead". I love his hands on, straight talking coaching style while still being able to relate and joke with the players on the field. He is going to be a real asset to James Bettcher's defense.

-       Rookie running back Robert Martin made a nice one handed catch on a high ball over the middle.

-       A nice "almost catch" from Ryan O'Malley in the back of the end zone. He went up and grabbed a pass from Alex Tanney between three defenders, but when he came down he landed on the back line and was out of bounds.

-       During O-Line/D-Line one on ones, I though Ereck Flowers had a couple decent reps. Each time, the defender tried to speed rush him and get low while bending the edge. Flowers carried them deep and around the quarterback, pushing them to the ground. Will Hernandez and Patrick Omameh had some nice blocks as well. Connor Barwin showed off his spin move again on a nice inside rush from left end. Avery Moss had a nice rush on Nate Solder, getting around the edge after knocking the offensive tackle's hands away. The pass rush of the day, however, went to Robert Thomas who knocked Chris Scott to the ground on a nice inside power rush.

-       Aldrick Rosas kicked field goals today and he connected on five of six, with his miss coming from 40 yards away.

-       The situation the team practiced today was a late game time management play. The team had the ball on 3rd down at the 34 yard line with 22 seconds remaining. The offense had to complete the pass inbounds, and then rush the field goal unit on and get a kick off with the clock ticking down. All three units pulled it off and Rosas made all three field goals.