It never rained at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center on Tuesday, but there was lightning in the vicinity of the practice field, making it unsafe for anyone to be outside. Practice was moved inside where the team held its fifth practice, the third in full pads.
Here is what I saw from the sideline:
*There were no 1-on-1’s but the team did have five team periods with competition between the offense and defense. The defense forced a couple turnovers.
*Rookie corner Corey Ballentine made the defensive play of practice during the red zone blitz period. He undercut a Daniel Jones slant pass to Garrett Dickerson and got his feet down before running out of the back of the end zone. He also knocked away the ball on a deep pass from Kyle Lauletta to Bennie Fowler on the last play of practice. Ballentine is getting his hands on the football often and he should continue to improve as he gets more experience. He is making the most of his opportunity with the second team since Sam Beal has been limited by a sore groin. The Giants may have found something with their sixth round pick out of Division II Washburn University.
*The other takeaway came on an Antonio Hamilton strip of Russell Shepard after a completed pass during the final team period. Julian Love scooped up the fumble for the defense.
*Oshane Ximines had a strong practice. Both he and Markus Golden are given a few snaps with the first team defense during team drills, and Ximines is taking advantage of it. He would have had a sack of Eli Manning after getting inside Nate Solder on the first play of the next to last team session. It was a telling play since Ximines said during media avails that the veteran tackles had told him he was telegraphing his inside move a bit too much and he was working on correcting that. Mission accomplished. He also batted a Jones screen pass at the line later in practice. He has remained effective even as the practices have gotten more physical.
*Fellow rookie Ryan Connelly, who has been the MIKE linebacker with the second unit, had a chance for a turnover of his own. He dropped into zone and got underneath Jones’ intended receiver on a short pass to the outside. His positioning and instincts were spot on but he couldn’t come up with the catch.
*Michael Thomas had an active practice. He knocked the ball away from Scott Simonson on a well-placed back-shoulder seam throw from Jones during a team period. On the very next play, he came down quickly on a wide receiver screen and would have made a tackle for a very short gain.
*Eli Manning had another sharp practice. He has shown a strong arm, accuracy, and he is getting his passes out on time to the right receivers. The team threw some wide receiver screens today, but Manning’s best throws were on some deep-outs that he got out to the sideline for intermediate gains.
*Golden Tate, Evan Engram and Bennie Fowler were Manning’s favorite targets today. Tate caught at least one of those deep-outs, and was also active in the short and deep areas of the field. Tate got open on the fourth play of the first team period, and Manning tried to hit him deep down the left sideline. Jabrill Peppers got over in time to make the play but did not get his head around and ran into Tate for an obvious defensive pass interference penalty. Peppers has been very active crashing the line of scrimmage on run plays since camp opened. He is not afraid to get involved from a physical standpoint.
*Bennie Fowler was especially active in the red zone, getting wide open on a slant during the red zone blitz period. He got inside rookie cornerback DeAndre Baker and Manning hit him with a perfect pass for a touchdown. Baker will learn to take the inside away as he gains more experience.
*Evan Engram had a few impact plays. He scored a touchdown on a one-handed grab of a Manning pass during the red zone blitz period. On the second play of practice, he caught a deep cross and showed off his speed by getting to the sideline and turning the play into a big gain. It was his most impactful practice of the summer.
*Sterling Shepard continues to have a high participation rate in practice despite his fractured thumb. He even donned a yellow jersey (telling the defense no contact was allowed) during a team session, and was catching passes from Manning one-handed throughout the day. Manning iterated earlier in the day how helpful it is to have Shepard participating in practice despite the injury.
Check out the best photos from the Giants' practice on Tuesday.