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Practice Report: Competition rises in final week

Monday's practice was probably the final un-carded practice of the preseason, and it was one of the most energetic and action-packed of training camp. The starters, many of which are unlikely to play on Thursday, got plenty of snaps. The offense and defense chirped at one another throughout with good tempo and performances on both sides of the ball.

Here's what I saw from the sideline:

*Daniel Jones was sharp early in practice. He made several small window throws, the first of which went to Bennie Fowler, who made a leaping catch near the sideline and got two feet down. His next pass was a laser over the middle in stride to Russell Shepard. Those two throws were only a warmup for blitz period. He found Alonzo Russell on a perfectly thrown deep ball over his outside shoulder to the left sideline where only the receiver could catch it. Henre' Toliver had good coverage but no chance at the ball. On the next play, Jones found Russell Shepard over the middle with another bullet for an intermediate gain. Jones looked ready to make his first career start on Thursday night.

*The defense was active during blitz period, putting consistent pressure on the quarterbacks from several different players. Antoine Bethea used his instincts to anticipate and grabbed an interception on an Eli Manning pass over the middle intended for Golden Tate. Unfortunately for the defense, Markus Golden jumped offside on the play. On a Kyle Lauletta pass at the end of blitz period, cornerback Ronald Zamort got his hand on a slant intended for Alex Wesley. Zamort was upset he missed the interception, but was bailed out when the ball popped in the air and went right to linebacker Jonathan Anderson, who came down with the interception.

*The defense continued to dominate during the red zone period. On 18 plays in the red zone (many of which came outside the 10-yard line), the offense didn't score one touchdown. There were a couple of coverage sacks during the period, with excellent coverage forcing the quarterbacks to hold the football.

*The first team offense bounced back during the two-minute drill, which closed out practice. The first and second team offenses were each given the ball on their own 40-yard line, down four points, with only one timeout and 1:28 remaining on the clock. Manning started the period with a 34-yard connection with Evan Engram, putting the ball on the defense's 26-yard line. A few plays later, Manning tried to hit Cody Latimer in the end zone for a sliding catch near the sideline, but Latimer couldn't get his knee down inbounds. After a pass interference penalty on Janoris Jenkins covering Latimer over the middle put the ball at the one, Barkley ran it in for the game-winning touchdown.

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*The defense, however, won the last battle. On the fifth and final play of the second team's two-minute drill, Jones was pressured by Dexter Lawrence and tried to get the ball short to Alonzo Russell. Zamort jumped the route and grabbed the interception. As he ran it back for a would-be touchdown, Jones tracked him down and knocked the ball out of his hands while going to the ground. It was hard to see who recovered it on the opposite sideline, but Jones made a nice hustle play to strip it away.

*Aside from Engram's aforementioned catch in the two-minute drill, he also had a deep catch down the right sideline. As the summer wraps up, it is becoming clear how the team is going to use him as a mismatch weapon against opposing defenses.

*Darius Slayton did not practice due to issues with the same hamstring he hurt earlier in camp. Golden Tate was out of his yellow jersey as he returns from his concussion. Based on what head coach Pat Shurmur said after practice, it doesn't seems as if there is a chance Tate will play in the game on Thursday. DeAndre Baker and Corey Ballentine continued to split reps with the first and second teams at outside cornerback.

*Jabrill Peppers, TJ Jones, Brittan Golden and Golden Tate were the punt returners during special teams.

*On every offside or false start penalty, the entire offense and defense lobbied the officials at practice to get the penalty to go against the other side of the ball. They were having fun with it.

*If this was the final competitive practice of camp, it was the perfect way to end an offseason of hard work that was filled with a lot of energy and big plays on both sides of football. The team will now see if they can transfer that to the field on Sunday afternoons when the regular season starts on September 8.

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