With summer heating up, the Giants.com crew discusses memorable training camp stories.
John Schmeelk: Wow, this is a tough one because training camp is so repetitive and everything tends to blend together, but I will always remember the years we spent in Albany, N.Y. Everyone within the organization had a chance to bond with one another. There were nightly basketball games and then trips to downtown Albany. Living in the dorm rooms and being able to bike back-and-forth to the racquetball courts, where our production studios were set up, and then going between the practice fields and the cafeteria was fun. It was truly an experience that I will miss, even though being away from home for a week at a time could be a little rough.
There were other unique parts of the Albany experience. The ice tubs for the players were under a tent outside the athletic facility. When it rained, the players had to do walkthroughs in the gymnasium (which Tom Coughlin disliked). In addition, the fans could get close to the players as they navigated the campus.
In terms of the practices, coach Coughlin's commanding presence will always stand out. Somehow, he was able to see it all - no matter where he was standing on the practice field or what was happening. It didn't matter if it was something important or potentially insignificant, he could use it to give you a hard time when he saw you in the hallway later. He saw EVERYTHING.
I'm having trouble remembering anything specific on the field. The most explosive players I've seen in action were Victor Cruz, David Wilson, Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley. Watching these amazing athletes up close was fun. Witnessing the battles between the Giants' offensive and defensive lines in 2007-08 were a blast, including the annual first fight of camp between guard Richie Seubert and one of the defensive linemen.
I hope this year's camp, as unique as it is going to be, will provide similar memories as we learn a lot about Joe Judge and how he is going to run his team.
With the Giants reporting this week, take a look at rare photos of training camp through the years.
Dan Salomone: This will be my 11th training camp, which believe it or not, still makes me a newbie by Giants' media standards. I think we need to get Paul Dottino and Michael Eisen on a podcast to discuss this more in depth. Regardless, a few things immediately come to mind: First, is Richie Seubert fighting. Second, is the Tom Coughlin post-practice press conference. Third, includes everything that's not for public consumption.
One story in particular, though, jumps out. The 2010 preseason game between the Giants and Jets was significant for a football game in August. It was the first game in MetLife Stadium, an undrafted rookie named Victor Cruz caught three touchdown passes, and Eli Manning dripped so much blood that center Shaun O'Hara said it was "something out of a Friday The 13th movie." That's where this training camp story comes in. The three-inch gash on the left side of Manning's forehead was a result of a botched play when Brandon Jacobs accidentally clipped him with his shoulder and propelled him into a sandwich between Jets defenders Calvin Pace and Jim Leonhard. When the Giants reported to Albany for their next practice, all the offensive linemen walked by the media (which was the only way to the cafeteria) with bandages on their foreheads.
This happened during my first month on the job and will stay with me forever. As an intern at the time, my first stories were on Bear Pascoe and some other reserves. So it was cool to see a role player wind up catching a touchdown pass in the 2011 NFC Championship Game and winning a Super Bowl.
Lance Medow: Let's go back to the summer of 2012. The Giants signed tight end Martellus Bennett, who spent his first four seasons in the league with the Cowboys (behind Jason Witten). Bennett was itching to become a team's No. 1 tight end and the Giants were looking for someone to fill the void left behind by Jake Ballard, who tore his left ACL in the second half of Super Bowl XLVI. It didn't take long for Bennett to break out of his shell, on and off the field, as he immediately showcased his unique personality.
When Bennett arrived in Albany for training camp, during his first encounter with the Giants media, he gave a classic response to the question of "How is your conditioning with your extra weight?" Said Bennett: "I'm kind of bigger than I was. I'm more muscular than I was in the past. I actually started lifting weights really, really hard. But I'm in the best shape I've ever been. Ask any of the guys in the camp, I'm stronger than I've ever been, I'm faster than I've ever been. I could run all day. I'm kind of like a black unicorn out there. It's amazing to watch."
Bennett's humorous responses didn't end there. In that same interaction with reporters, he also compared offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to "Professor Dumbledore," a character from Harry Potter, because of Gilbride's attention to detail and his ability to explain the offense clearly to his players. The coach even used his wife's decision-making process when choosing a meal to make a point about Eli Manning's decisiveness on and off the field. Bennett only played one season with the Giants, but he set the tone in training camp for what ultimately became an extremely entertaining season full of memorable lines and media sessions. He was quite the character.