In many ways, training camp doesn't officially begin until the pads come on for the first time. Thus, the unofficial start was Saturday when the players donned pads for the first time since last December. There was something resembling real football taking place at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. The conditions were temperatures in the high 80s and plenty of sun.
*Other than an overthrown deep ball to Bennie Fowler during the blitz period, Eli Manning was very sharp. He had zip on his intermediate passes and squeezed in passes to Golden Tate and Cody Latimer in traffic. As someone who has watched him throw in every practice since 2007, I have not seen any significant change in his velocity.
*Tate, after catching a deep ball down the sideline from Manning yesterday, was his primary target today. He had at least five catches, mostly in the short to intermediate range, including one for a touchdown during red zone 7-on-7's.
*The red zone 7 on 7's was the final competitive period between the offense and defense. Aside from the aforementioned touchdown to Tate, Daniel Jones threw a pair of touchdowns with the second unit. He put one in a perfect spot to tight end Garrett Dickerson, who had boxed out safety Kenny Ladler in the end zone. On the next play, Jones found Russell Shepard on a quick out for a touchdown, but the play was called back for offensive pass interference (pick play) on Bennie Fowler, which the offensive coaching staff protested. There's no doubt they'll be looking at the video of that play when the team reviews practice Saturday night.
*Kyle Lauletta threw a pair of touchdowns in the red zone drill, finding undrafted rookie free agent C.J. Conrad and then ending practice with a scoring pass to Russell Shepard. Alex Tanney completed the longest pass of practice, finding newly added Da'Mari Scott on a deep post over the middle between Corey Ballentine and Kenny Ladler.
*Ballentine had the best defensive play, picking off Lauletta after some kind of miscommunication between the second year quarterback and Scott. The interception would have been returned for a touchdown. Ballentine took reps with the second and third teams, picking up some plays due to an injury to Sam Beal (groin). As the Giants add receivers to replace their injured players, these types of miscommunications are bound to happen as the new players learn their assignments on the fly.
*Rookie corner Julian Love forced the other takeaway, stripping tight end Scott Simonson after a catch. The fumble was recovered by Kareem Martin. On the next play, Love knocked away a Daniel Jones' pass to Russell Shepard on a deep-out that was a little late. Love is rewarding the the coaching staff for its trust. He has worked at both the corner and safety spots.
*Generally speaking, the defense seems a step ahead of the offense, though there wasn't near the same amount of pressure on the quarterbacks today as there was on Friday. Getting into pads helps the offensive line, allowing them to play their technique more effectively and use their size and strength.
*It was fun to watch Dexter Lawrence, who played mostly 3-4 defensive end today with Dalvin Tomlinson at nose guard. You were never going to appreciate Lawrence until the pads came on. His power and quickness allowed him to knife through the offensive line a couple of times on plays that would have resulted in tackles for loss.
*There were a few too many procedural penalties at the line of scrimmage. After one false start, Pat Shurmur pulled the player from the next play.
*After leaving practice on Friday with cramps, Grant Haley was active with a sack on a corner blitz and a pass break-up.
*Rookie outside backer Oshane Ximines was spotted taking snaps with the first team.