The Giants on Sunday held their first practice since Thursday night’s preseason-opener against the Jets. Weather was absolutely perfect with highs in the low 80s and no humidity.
Head coach Pat Shurmur did shorten portions of practice, eliminating some of the reps for the third groups due to a number of players being limited or unable to practice. Some of the players who normally work with the threes got some reps with the first two groups.
* The two stars of practice today were obvious to anyone watching: Eli Manning and Saquon Barkley. The Giants unleashed Barkley in the passing game and got him down the field for big plays. His first play came against safety Michael Thomas with Barkley lined up near the sideline as a wide receiver. The running back ran a go-route, ran past Thomas and caught a pinpoint throw from Manning over the shoulder for what would have been a touchdown. The most impressive aspect of the catch was the subtle way Barkley slowed down to make contact with Thomas just slightly to use his strength to create more space for the catch.
* Barkley’s other catch came against linebacker Tae Davis. On what looked like an option route in the middle of the field, instead of taking it inside or outside as we’ve seen often in practice, Barkley went up the field and created space for what would have been a big play. He is beating linebackers and safeties in the pass game, where he might be just as valuable as he is as a runner. After one of his catches, Shurmur gave him a nice slap on his helmet and told him, “good job.”
* Manning was sharp and might have had his best practice of the summer. He completed his first 10 passes, including a throw to Golden Tate that he placed between cornerback Corey Ballentine and safety Antoine Bethea. During red zone drills, Manning hit Cody Latimer on a back shoulder fade to beat Ballentine. He went back to that same matchup later in practice, this time hitting the veteran wide receiver for a deep pass down the left sideline. Manning and Latimer have shown excellent chemistry throughout camp.
* With a knee injury to DeAndre Baker early in practice, Ballentine got valuable reps with the first team playing opposite Janoris Jenkins. Even though Latimer got the best of him a couple of times, they are valuable reps for a young guy continuing to improve.
* Julian Love and Michael Thomas were both on the field together with the second team and were swapping back and forth playing deep and in the slot. Thomas had what would have been sacks as he rushed from the slot on two separate plays during blitz period. Both players will be valuable and interchangeable pieces for the defense this year.
* Safety Sean Chandler had the lone interception of practice, picking off Daniel Jones in red zone drills. Chandler got himself position inside of TJ Jones and got to the ball for the takeaway. He will be receiving one of the small “turnover trophies” that each defensive player gets when they force a takeaway.
* Wide receiver Alex Wesley made a tough juggling catch near Julian Love during 7-on-7 at the end of practice. He did not come up with the initial catch of a Daniel Jones pass but managed to get control of it before Love could knock it away.
* With Alec Ogletree (calf) sitting out practice, it was Tae Davis and Ryan Connelly running as the first team nickel linebackers. Even though Connelly is the mike linebacker and receives the calls from sideline, I heard Davis doing some nice communication with Ballentine, discussing which of them would cover the running back and the tight end on a given play.
* The offensive and defensive linemen went one on one at the end of practice. Oshane Ximines flashed some quick inside moves. Nick Gates, who is taking snaps at offensive tackle, had a pair of nice pass protection sets.
Check out the best action shots as Big Blue returned to the practice field on Sunday for training camp.