In this week's Cover 3, the Giants.com crew shares takeaways from the first phase of training camp.
John Schmeelk: GUYS RUNNING ON GRASS WEARING JERSEYS AND SHORTS AND DOING THINGS WITH FOOTBALLS!!!!!! YES!!!!!!! HOOORAY!!!!!!
That is honestly my biggest takeaway. I've been waiting to see this since last December. With no OTA's, minicamps or spring practices, I haven't seen players on the fields outside the Quest Diagnostics Training Center in more than seven months. This is a long time coming. It's fun.
The team hasn't done anything more than walk-throughs or strength-and-conditioning drills yet, which means there hasn't been any competition between the offense or defense. There hasn't been any contact. The team is using this time to get their players in shape so they avoid injuries when workouts begin in earnest this week.
So, what are my takeaways? I have a few that may seem basic, but they are significant.
Daniel Jones looks like he put on some good weight and appears thicker in the upper body.
No one is on the PUP list. Even players who finished last season injured, like Ryan Connelly and Evan Engram, appear to be moving around well.
Joe Judge has had his team outside in all sorts of rain, including fairly heavy downpours. So, he is getting this team ready to play in inclement weather, and I would be surprised to see them inside during training camp unless lightning makes it unsafe to stay outside.
Everyone seems to understand the challenges facing this team this year. Whether it is executing new playbooks on both sides of the ball with a limited off-season or staying healthy away from the facility, the team is taking their responsibilities very seriously. It starts at the top with Joe Judge and his message seems to have reached the players.
All fans should watch the first episode of Giants Life, which shows how the Giants have altered parts of MetLife Stadium to allow the team to safely work in training camp. It is impressive how much thought and work has been put into the operations of the team this summer. Kudos to everyone involved, from the coaches, to the medical personnel, to the IT staff, video department, security and equipment guys to have all this come together.
Dan Salomone: I think the reasons why the Giants' top brass became enamored with Joe Judge during the interview process are shining through. Likewise, now that they are with him in person, you would assume the players are having a similar response. He has been nothing but clear in his message and says everything with conviction. He has also come across as authentic as opposed to a copycat of Bill Belichick and Nick Saban, which may have been a pitfall for their former proteges.
Judge said it from Day 1: There is no magic wand to get this team back on track. To do it correctly, it needs to be a daily grind. The players are buying into that philosophy; you can hear it in their sessions with the media. I've never heard the phrase "day-by-day" – or some iteration to the same effect – more than I have in the last few weeks.
Eventually, that "day" will be "game day" and that's when everyone will be ultimately tested. Until then, fans can be encouraged by their new head coach and how he is handling an incredibly complex time.
"You can see the things you want to go ahead and breathe into your culture coming together already," Judge said. "That's important and that has to sustain over the test of time. A few days together doesn't solve all our problems. As far as a starting point, I am very pleased with where we are going. We just have to be diligent with the day-by-day process of coming in with good energy, being attentive, and making sure we learn and then can execute at an improving level on a daily basis."
View exclusive photos of the New York Giants from their 2020 Media Day.
Lance Medow: As has been echoed across the league, this year's training camp is extremely unique. Practicing social distancing protocols while preparing for the upcoming season is no easy feat but based on what Joe Judge and several players told the media last week, it seems as if the routine is slowly becoming second nature - and that's going to be key moving forward. While I'm sure it can get frustrating for players and coaches, who are so used to interacting in close proximity, it seems as if the transition has gone relatively smoothly. The more the players get used to the new setup, the more and more the focus will solely be on the Xs and Os.
When Judge spoke to media last week, he even noted how he's been pleased with how the group overall has embraced this new environment: "There's an urgency to improve, there's an urgency to learn. We have a lot of guys reaching out to coaches on their own for help. We have players in meeting rooms doing extra. You can see the things you want to go ahead and breathe into your culture coming together already. That's important and that has to sustain over the test of time. A few days together doesn't solve all our problems. As far as a starting point, I am very pleased with where we are going."
At this point, the players are focusing on strength and conditioning while holding only walk-throughs. Considering they won't be putting on the pads for another week, the approach to those other activities will set the foundation for when they move on to the more physical tests of football. The teams that adapt and adjust most effectively will likely have the best results in 2020 and that process is well underway.
In addition to the Giants embracing what has become the new normal, they also welcomed back a familiar face in linebacker Markus Golden. Based on his production in 2019, his return to the team can't be overlooked as he led New York with 10 sacks and 27 quarterback hits. Aside from Golden, Kyler Fackrell is the only other player on the roster who has recorded a double-digit sack season. The best defenses in the NFL don't rely on just one player to do the heavy lifting, rather they have multiple weapons. That's why I'm sure Patrick Graham has no complaints about being able to utilize an additional proven pass rusher.