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Practice Report: Physicality ramps up at camp

It was the fourth straight day of practice and the second consecutive in pads before an off-day on Monday. It was the hottest day of training camp so far with temperatures approaching the low 90s. It was also the most physical of the practices thus far, and there were a few chippy moments but no scuffles of any kind.

*The team had offensive line – defensive line one-on-one period for the second straight day. The drill is always a highlight of practice. I watched the 7-on-7 red zone instead of the lines on Saturday (they happened simultaneously), but I focused on the trenches on Sunday. It was a good back and forth with neither group dominating. The two best moves came on the outside, when Markus Golden beat Mike Remmers inside with a wicked spin move, and later on in the drill when Oshane Ximines beat Nate Solder inside with a swim move. Otherwise, the offensive line held its own (including Solder and Remmers on their other reps).

*Rookie defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence continues to show his physical prowess. His power in pass rush one-on-ones is nearly impossible to deal with (especially for centers who have to snap the ball), though guard Will Hernandez anchored fairly well against him on their lone rep against each other. It was a play later in practice from the Clemson product that caught the eyes of the observers on the sideline. Russell Shepard was handed the ball on a reverse. Lawrence got upfield, but managed to stop, pivot, and get back into the play tracking down a WIDE RECEIVER that is 6-1, 199 pounds from behind. Lawrence is 342 pounds. It was impressive.

*On that same play, Daniel Jones looked very willing to engage as a blocker on the edge to spring the play. With his red jersey, there was no excessive contact, but he was in position to make the block on the outside edge of the play if it was a game situation.

*The offense rebounded after a couple of practices that were better for the defense. It started practice hot during red zone team drills, with Saquon Barkley using his speed and quickness to get around Janoris Jenkins and to the sideline for a touchdown on the first team play. Trying to solo tackle him is a nightmare. 

*The second unit scored on three straight plays when they got their red zone opportunity. Two came on Daniel Jones play-action rollouts to the right when he found Russell Shepard for scores. Sandwiched in between was a Rod Smith (who has looked decisive running downhill) run through the middle for a touchdown. I need replay review to determine whether the fourth play with the second unit was a score or not. Paul Perkins ran outside to the right and got to the pylon, but if tackling was permitted, Ryan Connelly might have takne him down at the one. Connelly has been getting snaps as the MIKE linebacker with the second unit and has shown good speed and instincts.

*During the blitz period of practice, the defense was in the backfield frequently. At one point, the third team had what would have been sacks on four consecutive plays. During that same blitz drill, corner Antonio Hamilton jumped an out-route on Amba Etta-Tawo and nearly intercepted a pass from Jones.

*Also in the blitz period, Alex Tanney made one of the two best throws of the day from the quarterbacks, a perfect touch pass over the top, hitting tight end C.J. Conrad in stride near the right sideline. Conrad has flashed some real nice play throughout camp (including a good block on Keion Adams during team drills), something Pat Shurmur acknowledged from the podium late last week. Tanney's second great throw came at the end of practice when he hit wide receiver Reggie White Jr. on a deep throw over Corey Ballentine.

*Ballentine has been exactly what you would expect a Division II player would be after missing time in the spring. He has made as many plays on the ball as anyone, but he has also given up some catches. All the athletic skills are there, and all these live reps will be invaluable for his development.

*It looks like Eli Manning is getting into a nice rhythm with Cody Latimer. Used as a deep threat frequently last year, Latimer has caught a few comeback routes in tight coverage. Manning is getting the ball to him on time with anticipation, and Latimer is using his frame to keep defenders off the ball.

*Nick Gates showed hustle at left guard late in practice. On a run, he secured his first block. As the play wound down, he burst to the second level trying to make another block to turn a short gain into a long run.

*Veteran safety Antoine Bethea does not look his age. On Saturday he showed his range, running from the middle of the field and knocking away a pass thrown to the sideline for Wayne Gallman. Today, he closed on Gallman near the one-yard line and forced a pass to be thrown incomplete short of the goal line.

*Jabrill Peppers and Golden Tate were back catching punts during special teams. During kickoff return, it was Peppers, Latimer and Ballentine.

*The next practice is on Tuesday.

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