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Fact or Fiction: Takeaways from 1st half of camp


The play of the young DBs has been the most impressive part of training camp, so far.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - I think the offensive line has held up well in 1-on-1 drills, which are designed to give the defense an advantage. The defense has won their share of the matchups, but the young offensive linemen have not looked overmatched. They adjust from snap to snap and have improved as camp wears on. Possible starting veterans such as Fleming and Nick Gates have looked strong, too. I haven't seen anything that makes me especially worried about the position group.

Dan Salomone: Fact - With Sam Beal opting out of the season and DeAndre Baker being placed on the Commissioner Exempt List, there were legitimate questions about the depth in the defensive backfield. The good thing about this time of the year, especially in football, is it gives more opportunities for young guys to step up. From Darnay Holmes to Julian Love to even undrafted rookie Jarren Williams, this group has done so. Back at the NFL Scouting Combine, Joe Judge said the youth on the roster is actually a positive because that gives the coaching staff fresh clay to mold. I think you're seeing that now. This is a hands-on staff, and the players are responding.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Fourth-round pick Darnay Holmes has stood out after the first week of padded practices with his aggressive play and ball-hawk qualities. The same can be said for Julian Love, who looks to expand his role in 2020 but I think, overall, the young wide receivers have been the most impressive group. The competition for maybe the final two receiver spots is heating up thanks to the play of David Sills and Alex Bachman (who spent time on the practice squad last season) as well as undrafted rookies Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor and Derrick Dillon. Sills is a noticeable athlete who also played quarterback in college and, unlike the rest of the receiving corps, Victor stands out because of his length and size as an attractive red zone target.

Andrew Thomas vs. Lorenzo Carter has been the best 1-on-1 matchup.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - This has been a fun matchup, with both players winning their fair share of the matchups. I've enjoyed watching Sterling Shepard going against James Bradberry. Bradberry likes to use his strength against wide receivers, but Shepard counters with his quickness and change of direction off the line of scrimmage. Shepard's ability to leverage his athleticism, even in short spaces such as the red zone, has been impressive. Shepard has been one of the tougher covers in camp, so far, and if he can stay heathy, he could have a big season.

Dan Salomone: Fact - As Michael Eisen wrote, these two former Bulldogs-turned-Giants lead parallel lives. Now, they are being counted on as key contributors to revive two important facets of football: protecting the quarterback and pressuring him. One interesting aspect of training camp this year is that Thomas, the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, sees an array of moves from a group of diverse collection of front-seven players, Carter included.

Lance Medow: Fact - Andrew Thomas has matched up with several different pass rushers but given the history between Thomas and Lorenzo Carter, it's a battle with a bit more intrigue. The two were teammates at Georgia in 2017, when Thomas was a freshman and Carter a senior. With no preseason games, Thomas needs to get as many reps as possible against NFL pass rushers before the start of the season and Carter is looking for a breakout campaign after showing some flashes over the last two seasons.

Darnay Holmes has been the most surprising player, so far.

John Schmeelk: Fact - I hesitate to call Holmes a surprise because immediately after the draft I felt he had a real chance to compete as the slot cornerback. He has not disappointed. I have been a little surprised at how well he does in getting his head around and making plays on the ball, which is hard to do when playing man-to-man defense. Holmes has not only knocked away passes, he has made interceptions.

Dan Salomone: Fact - When the Giants drafted him and people dug into his story – he graduated from UCLA in less than three years and picked up chess to train his mind – he quickly became one of the most intriguing prospects in the team's 2020 class. But he had to wait more than three months to show what he could do on the field. He has not disappointed. As the leader in interceptions at training camp, he will be a player to watch – and listen to – this season.

Lance Medow: Fact - You never know how rookies will adjust to their first training camp, especially in the middle of a global pandemic, but that hasn't been an issue for Darnay Holmes. The transition from college to the pros has gone rather smoothly for a player who didn't have the luxury of a typical NFL off-season. From that perspective, Holmes has been a bit of a surprise but you can't overlook his eight interceptions at UCLA, where he was a very smart player and earned his degree in three years.

Must-see photos of the Giants in action with training camp now in full swing in East Rutherford, N.J.

The offense has been ahead of the defense through the first few weeks of camp.

John Schmeelk: Fiction - As is often the case early in training camp, the defense has been a bit ahead of the offense. There have been a number of individual matchups won by the offense, but the defense has prevented the offense from making big plays in the team sessions.

Dan Salomone: Fiction - It's the boring answer, but it really has been back-and-forth. You have to remember that the Giants had to install two completely new systems under extraordinary circumstances. Sometimes the offense looks in sync; other times it's the defense. And the switch isn't just day to day. It can be series to series or rep to rep.

Lance Medow: Fiction - Typically, in the early stages of camp, under normal circumstances, the defense is usually ahead of the offense and that holds true for the Giants, thus far. As a I referenced in my above response to Darnay Holmes, he's been very active through the first few padded practices as has Julian Love. The defensive line has also shown some flashes - especially in last Friday's scrimmage, when Dexter Lawrence made his presence felt in stopping the run. It's still very early in the process, but I'd give the defense the slight edge over the offense as Daniel Jones and Co. are still getting acclimated to the new scheme.


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