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Practice Report: Defense takes Day 2 of camp

Day 2 of training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center is in the books. Here is what I saw from the sideline:

*There comes a point in every training camp where I get to write the words "early in camp, the defense is usually ahead of the offense," and this year it gets to be after the second practice. An efficient offense requires a lot of moving parts to work in concert with one another and sometimes it takes a few days of practice for everything to click. It didn't help that the unit was without two of its weapons, Sterling Shepard (thumb) and Evan Engram (load management). Spare a few plays that I'll detail in this report, the defense got the better of the battle between the two units, making plays in the backfield and the secondary. The only negative for the defense was a few too many offside penalties.

*Lorenzo Carter started practice where he left off on Thursday. On the second play of team drills, he set the edge brilliantly, forcing Saquon Barkley back inside where Dalvin Tomlinson was waiting for a tackle for loss. Carter has flashed the ability to impact the game as a run stopper, pass rusher, and coverage linebacker.

*Corey Ballentine made a good play the during team portion. Quarterback Alex Tanney tried to hit wide receiver Reggie White Jr. on a route heading towards the middle of the field, but Ballentine anticipated it and beat him to the spot to knock the pass away. A penalty was called initially, but the flag was picked up.

*During the blitz period, the first-team offensive line showed great signs of communication. On three plays, the defense got no pressure on the quarterback with the offensive line and Barkley picking up multiple blitzes. Barkley had a particularly well-executed pick-up on a safety blitz on the first play of the period. Manning also did a nice job with hard counts, getting the defense to show their hand before snapping the ball.

Check out the top photos from Big Blue's second practice of training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

*Barkley displayed his leadership throughout the day. Before that blitz period, Barkley went up to every offensive lineman in the huddle and gave each a pound, telling all of them how important it was for everyone to communicate on blitz pickups. Later in practice, Barkley was encouraging his teammates to keep showing great energy.

*Corner Julian Love was seen all over the field. He played the slot with both the first and second groups, and also played safety with the second group. The Giants loved his flexibility when they drafted him and it looks like they trust his handle on the mental part of the game to throw the responsibilities of two positions on him. Grant Haley had to leave practice with cramps and if he has to miss any time, Love could slide into the nickel role with the first team defense.

*There was pressure on the quarterbacks throughout practice, including appearances in the backfield from Oshane Ximines, Dexter Lawrence, and Carter. The defensive front was consistently in the backfield on both run and pass plays throughout the day, especially against the second- and third-team offenses. There were even a few plays that resulted in what I would consider coverage sacks, where the quarterback had to hold the ball due to tight coverage in the secondary that it gave the defense time to get home.

*Russell Shepard had the play of the day for the offense when Daniel Jones hit him on a deep post. Shepard reached out and made a great hands catch for what would have been a big gain.

*Haley had the lone takeaway of practice. A Kyle Lauletta pass deflected off Russell Shepard and bounced in the air before Haley grabbed it. Edge rusher Markus Golden left practice with cramps, and wide receiver Brittan Golden suffered a groin injury. Brittan Golden suffered the injury doing exactly what coaches want their players to do: finish plays. He caught a contested Lauletta pass (that was thrown off his back foot due to an effective all-out blitz) over Mark McLaurin and turned upfield for a big gain. At the end of the play, he injured his groin trying to avoid a defender on the way to the end zone.

*Despite having the fractured thumb, Sterling Shepard was on the field for everything but the team portions of practice. Instead of catching a football, he was catching a tennis ball one-handed during individual drills. He was also practicing one-handed catches with his good hand on the side throughout practice. He also ran drills practicing his route running while his teammates were in team drills. It looks like he is making sure that when the thumb is healed that his lower body and endurance is where it needs to be to start practicing and playing right away.

*Golden Tate, Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler were the first three wide receivers on the field in place of Shepard.

*Both practices this weekend are open to the public.

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Cole Beasley (11) after a catch against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

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