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Sideline View: Live tackling drill highlights practice


The second day of padded practice jumped from 90 minutes to 1 hour, 45 minutes. It was the most physical practice of training camp as the team continues to take the necessary steps to be ready for the regular-season opener.

* The highlight of practice was the first live tackling drill I have seen at Giants training camp in a long time. An offensive player and defensive player lined up five yards apart, with the ball on a pad directly in front of the ball carrier. The offensive player was tasked with running through the defensive player, while the defensive player was required to properly tackle the ball carrier.

The drill is designed to teach safe tackling with the proper technique and to prepare them for the physical contact coming at the start of the regular season. Without preseason games, drills like these become essential.

The drill was loud and raucous with both sides of the ball cheering on their players in their matchups. Linebackers went against running backs and tight ends, while wide receivers went against defensive backs. Dravon Askew-Henry forced a fumble during the drill and recovered it. Corey Ballentine went down at the end of the drill, but returned to practice after being looked at by the trainers.

* Offensive-defensive line 1-on-1 drills occurred right in front of where we were allowed to watch practice. The rookie offensive linemen are learning what it means to block in the NFL as they are subjected to different rush moves and different pass rushers throughout the drill. They win some reps and lose others, but every experience makes them better.

* Lorenzo Carter had the most impressive defensive rep of the pass rush period, using a combination of his length and power to knock his opponent to the ground. BJ Hill had a couple of good power rushes, using his leverage to get under the pads of the offensive lineman paired against him.

* Cameron Fleming did well during the drills, holding his own against a variety of rushers put against him. Nick Gates is easy to find even though the Giants are moving him around the offensive line, with his long hair and jersey rolled up above his stomach. He has not lost many reps.

* Of all the offensive linemen, Will Hernandez was the most impressive at practice. During run drills, he pulled around his fellow linemen with a powerful thud in the hole, clearing the defense for the running back. He also excelled in pass protection drills, showing off his strength on one rep by holding a defensive lineman off him with just one arm.

* Since the Giants didn't trade for him until mid-season, this is the first time we are seeing Leonard Williams up-close and personal at practice. His combination of size, strength and athleticism provides a challenge for the offensive linemen matched against him.

* Saquon Barkley is an impossible cover in 1-on-1 receiving drills. The linebackers assigned to him in those drills don't have a much of a chance to match his athleticism and quickness. Dion Lewis still has plenty of quickness and shiftiness to his game, and has shown the ability to find small creases in the blocking scheme in front of him. Wayne Gallman showed good vision, breaking a couple of long runs outside of the tackle box.

* Sterling Shepard has been the toughest wide receiver to cover in camp. He looks extremely quick in and out of his breaks and is able to create separation against opposing cornerbacks. He caught another touchdown pass during team red zone drills, beating the cornerback to the back corner of the end zone on a perfect corner fade from Daniel Jones. Colt McCoy hit him for another score over the top in the corner of the end zone. Shepard and Engram each caught passes down the field from Daniel Jones near the sideline earlier in practice.

* One of the final plays of practice came during red zone drills. Rookie safety Xavier McKinney stepped up and undercut a short pass into the flat. He grabbed the ball out of the air, and could have brought it back all the way for the touchdown if he kept his feet after coming down from his leap.


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