"Play it out" was the name of the period, and that's what the Giants did during Friday's intrasquad scrimmage as first-year coach Joe Judge took his team for a spin.
For more than an hour, the Giants conducted an extensive amount of live work, filled with wrapping up, tackling, going to the ground, blocking, and live pass rushes in 11-on-11 situations at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. The scrimmage, which was a first for the team in years but won't be the last, was especially important in a year absent of preseason games.
"We got a good bit of volume for the players," Judge said. "They were able to handle it. Their conditioning is improving. They came out with good effort and energy. That was very pleasing. Next week, we'll kind of kick it back up with the goal of building into an intrasquad game on Friday. We'll get back, talk with the trainers, talk with the strength coaches, look at the volume we've had with players this first week, which we pushed them through a lot, and we'll see how to structure next week's practices accordingly to make sure that we can go ahead and lead up to next Friday's game."
Today, the Giants and NBC 4 New York announced two special inside looks at next Friday's Blue-White Scrimmage, airing Saturday, August 29 at 6 p.m. ET and Friday, September 4 at 7 p.m. ET. The "Giants Blue-White Scrimmage Special" is presented by Quest Diagnostics, a Proud Partner in Health of the New York Giants. The program will also be available on-demand through Giants.com, the Giants Mobile App, and on the Giants YouTube page following the completion of each original airing.
"You want to see how guys perform in these situations because it's the closest simulation we can have to a game," Judge said. "If you put it kind of in context to what we're doing today, this would have roughly been equivalent to a competitive practice against an opponent, leading into preseason game one today. This would have been a similar setup we would have had with a common opponent and leading into the game. Next week, we have to flip around and kind of get into more true game mode and almost try to replicate that preseason game feel. Obviously, it's a fast-forwarded version of training camp. But we're trying to make sure we acclimate the players accordingly and build into it so they can do it effectively and safely."
View photos from the team's first intrasquad scrimmage on Friday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
The defense dominated the first portion of today's scrimmage, highlighted by a diving interception from rookie cornerback Darnay Holmes, a fourth-round draft choice from UCLA. However, tackle Andrew Thomas, the fourth overall draft choice, avenged the turnover for the offense by chasing Holmes down and stripping the ball away from him.
The back-and-forth play epitomized the scrimmage.
"It was definitely something. … Look, you want your defense to be ball hawks and flying around all the time," Judge said. "Those guys have been doing a really good job this week of working and improving. Again, it goes back and forth. Sometimes you turn on offensive drills and the defense falls. Then you turn it on the defense and the defense wins. But it was good today to see them out there in a competitive situation of not only applying what we're calling, but what we're calling in the situation.
"You can't just call plays. Is it 1st and 10? Is it 2nd and short? Is it 2nd and long? What's the third down down and distance? What's the personnel on the field? They need to process a lot of information in a short amount of time. By doing that, they put themselves in the right position. I was very pleased with that. The answer on Andrew is yeah, I was very pleased to see our offensive line hustle in that situation. That's what we preach right there in terms of looking for the turnover and securing the tackle. It's good to have things you preach in the classroom show up on the field. On the other side, Darnay is going to get ripped for fumbling the ball."
Eventually, the offense settled in with Daniel Jones under center.
"I think that's part of the process and the reason we are out there," Jones said. "I think … as it went on and we got into some of the more play it out situations, I thought we got into a rhythm and made some plays. That was encouraging. I think we will continue to work through those things and continue to learn from them. Overall, I was encouraged by what were able to do, we were able to move the ball down the field and execute. Like any day in practice and any situation like that in camp, we are going to have opportunities to learn and we are going to attack those opportunities."
*The Giants rested rookie safety Xavier McKinney, linebacker Ryan Connelly and wide receiver Corey Coleman. Connelly and Coleman both suffered season-ending knee injuries in 2019.
"You know what, we just thought they had a really strong load, and we're looking to really build into next Friday," Judge said. "Based on what they did the rest of the week, and those guys carried a heavy load for the team throughout practices, we thought it was best to just go ahead and rest them. We worked several other players throughout the practice as needed by certain periods. To be honest with you, there are a lot of young players that we had to see today. We have to think in context of, again, we didn't have preseason game one this year, where you see a lot of young guys get out there and show you how they compete. Today, in essence for us, it was a lot of preseason game one to see how guys get on the field, compete and what kind of impression they can leave us with."
*Judge opened his post-scrimmage video conference by sending his best wishes to Washington coach Ron Rivera, who announced Thursday that he has been diagnosed with squamous cell cancer located in a lymph node. According to a statement by the team, the cancer is in an early stage and is considered very treatable and curable, providing a good prognosis for a full recovery. For now, Rivera has asked the team to keep things "business as usual."
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Ron Rivera and his family," Judge said. "Obviously, we compete against each other on a weekly basis, there are rivalries within the division. When you hear news like this, you're all on the same team and we're all really, truly pulling for each other. I've been on the phone with several other head coaches just this morning, and I know everyone has the same sentiments as me. I'll let them speak for themselves. At this time, we want to send our prayers and thoughts to him and his family. I look forward to seeing him this fall on the field competing and getting well."
*The Giants players will have the day off on Saturday and return to their training camp routine on Sunday.