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Fact or Fiction: Training camp surprises & top plays

FACT-OR-FICTION

The Giants.com crew is presented with four statements and must decide whether they are Fact or Fiction.

The best offensive play of camp so far was Jalin Hyatt's long touchdown from Daniel Jones (which they did twice on Thursday).

John Schmeelk: Fact – I need to be slightly more specific because Jones and Hyatt combined for two such deep touchdowns on Thursday. The one in 7-on-7 was special. Hyatt was double-teamed with pretty good coverage, as both defenders were very close to the receiver. Jones placed a perfect pass right in front of Hyatt, who did not have to break his stride and caught it right over his inside shoulder. It was a perfect connection and an exact representation of the type of play we need to see more of throughout the season.

Dan Salomone: Fact – It wasn't just the play or the fact they did it twice. The most encouraging part was what it could mean for an offense that ranked last in pass plays of 20 yards or more. But don't get too excited yet. Brian Daboll isn't going full steam ahead on the hype train because he knows there's a long way to go. "I'd group him with all the rookies," the head coach said. "Some good, some bad, some things to learn from, but he's really in the same category as all the rookies that we have."

Lance Medow: Fact – When you take into consideration Jalin Hyatt's speed and Daniel Jones' accuracy, I don't think you'll find a better connection thus far during training camp. What was noticeable about both of Hyatt's touchdown grabs is that Jones put the ball in a spot where either the former Tennessee standout was going to make the catch or it was going to fall incomplete, and those are the only two results you want to see. Increasing explosive plays is a must this season and Jones and Hyatt have provided flashes of what could take form come meaningful games. Those two seem to be building chemistry by the day, very similar to what Darius Slayton and Jones accomplished in 2019.

Matt Citak: Fact – Hyatt has easily been one of the standouts of training camp thus far. Each day, the rookie seemingly makes a highlight reel play, many of which have come in the shape of a deep touchdown catch from Jones. Hyatt has true breakaway speed, and the 21-year-old has put it on full display so far this summer. If he can continue to stretch the field for the offense, Hyatt could add another dynamic to the Giants' passing game.

The best defensive play of camp so far was Jason Pinnock's one-handed interception.

John Schmeelk: Fact – It was unbelievable play that looked special on video given the air-time Pinnock got, which was made to look even better the way he lifted his knee higher at the top of his jump to get the ball. He looked like Jordan on his famous baseline dunk from the dunk contest in the 80's. Pinnock has been making a strong case as the second starting safety.

Dan Salomone: Fiction – I don't think Zyon Gilbert's interception on Day 2 got enough love. On an island, the cornerback tipped a pass to himself and secured the pick with one had as he fell backward.

Lance Medow: Fact – One-handed is the key description here, as what exactly would top that? Jason Pinnock made an ultra-athletic play where he climbed the rope full extension and snagged the ball out of thin air. His timing and reflexes were on point to produce what may go down as the best play of camp.

Matt Citak: Fact – The play may have already been called dead as Daniel Jones seemed to get sacked in the backfield, but there is no denying that Pinnock's one-handed interception was a thing of beauty. There have been other interceptions made during team drills, but none come close to the safety's amazing grab.

View photos from Friday's training camp practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.

Rookie cornerback Tre Hawkins III has been the surprise player of camp so far.

John Schmeelk: Fact – I know there was some positive noise about his level of play in the spring, but I didn't think that meant he would fight himself into consistent first-team reps before the first preseason game was even played. Hawkins has earned it, getting his hands on the football and staying close to receivers. If he can continue that level of play throughout practice against Detroit next week, in the preseason games, and against the Giants starters during the rest of camp, he could have a prominent role to start the season.

Dan Salomone: Fact – When a sixth-round pick gets first-team reps because of merit and not injury, you're onto something. "Oh, he's had a great camp," defensive coordinator Wink Martindale saido f the Old Dominion product. "He's had a great camp. It's amazing to me as you go back and you think about the different guys and where they come from. It doesn't matter where you come from once you get here because the resources and people that they have to work with at this level and the guys that are productive, you can see the confidence just build in them. I really think he's done a nice job, but he's got a lot of things to work on, just like we all do."

Lance Medow: Fact – I'm not sure Tre Hawkins receiving some first team reps early in camp was high on most prediction lists this offseason, so from that standpoint, he's absolutely been the surprise player. He's now on everyone's radar as a potential defensive option, as opposed to just special teams. Hawkins has the length to make a case as an intriguing prospect, but the fact that he's been thrown out there immediately bodes well for his opportunities this season since he's already caught the eye of the coaching staff. The sixth-round pick out of Old Dominion is making some noise with his work ethic and play, and you can't ask for anything more at this stage of camp.

Matt Citak: Fact – While Hyatt has been perhaps the biggest standout on offense, Hawkins gets that honor on the defensive side of the ball. The sixth-round pick has made plays in almost every practice, which has earned him some snaps on the first team defense. It's not often you see a rookie selected with the 209th overall pick step in and immediately look comfortable in the NFL, but such has been the case with the cornerback from Old Dominion. The next step for the rookie will be continuing his strong play next week in Detroit, first in joint practices and then in the first preseason game.

The defensive line is asserting itself as the strongest position on the team.

John Schmeelk: Fiction – It's too soon to tell. We have had one padded practice. I thought the offensive line actually did a pretty good job in the 1-on-1 pass blocking drills and 9-on-7. Do I still think the defensive line is the most talented group on the roster? Yes, but it is also important to remember that A'Shawn Robinson is not practicing yet. Ask this question again when we return from Detroit and I might have a different answer.

Dan Salomone: Fact – It's not just about the individual parts. The defensive front has built and continues to build something special in terms of cohesion and culture. You can tell they legitimately like playing with each other, which goes a long way.  

Lance Medow: Fiction – Given there's only been one-padded practice, it's way too premature to crown the defensive line. That's why I'm going with the position I think is the deepest and has proven that on the field in the first week of camp: wide receiver. Every day, several players at that spot are making their presences felt. Jalin Hyatt, Parris Campbell, Isaiah Hodgins, Collin Johnson, and Cole Beasley have all stood out for various reasons, and no matter the drill or team activity, at least one of them continues to produce. When you look at the versatility of that group and playmaking potential, at this point in camp, it's hard to put another position ahead of receiver.

Matt Citak: Fact – Even before training camp, the defensive line was seen as the strongest position on the team. Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams form perhaps the top interior defensive linemen duo in the NFL, with Rakeem Nunez-Roches and A'Shawn Robinson providing some solid depth. Kayvon Thibodeaux and Azeez Ojulari flashed their potential at times last season. Both young edge rushers could take a big step in their developments this year, not to mention veteran Jihad Ward right behind them. With all of the depth both on the interior and exterior, it's easy to see how the defensive line could quickly emerge as the strength of the Giants defense.

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