You can no longer talk about the early stages of training camp; the Giants are in the thick of it now.
Before wrapping up a marathon week with the first intrasquad scrimmage Friday, the team had another heavy practice Thursday at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Joe Judge has now seen everyone competing together on the field for more than a week, and his first impressions have been drawn.
"I'm pleased with the way they work right now," Judge said today after practice. "They come to work every day with a lot of enthusiasm and urgency. They're very coachable. These are guys that are very in-tune to the details that we're preaching within our program. I've seen a lot of camaraderie being built through the competition on the field, as well as the interaction off the field in the meeting rooms, in the dining hall and the locker room. You're starting to see a lot of the personalities really start to come out. It's a fun group to work with. I love coming to work every day."
Here are Thursday's standout players:
S XAVIER MCKINNEY
Nick Saban has a production point system at Alabama, where McKinney was consistently near the top during his college days. Termed a "real playmaker" by the six-time national champion head coach – who also helped mentor Judge – McKinney has shown this week why many considered him a steal in the second round. Today, the rookie broke up two passes to kick off the day during 1-on-1 drills. It followed up a Tuesday outing – yesterday was not a full-speed practice – in which he had an interception.
"I was on a blitz and I have a couple progressions to read through before I actually finish out my whole blitz," McKinney explained of the interception. "Once I go through all those progressions that's when I can kind of attack. I felt the quarterback looking my way, looking for something behind me. I felt something behind me and it was almost like a reaction play. I used my instincts and tried to make a play for us on the goal line."
McKinney added: "I almost had one today. I think I almost had a couple today. I didn't finish the play like I should have, but that's why we have film. I'm going to go back and see where I can get better and where I can improve."
DB JULIAN LOVE
Love notched the lone interception of practice, capitalizing on a pass that went through the receiver's hands. As you may have heard (multiple times) by now, the Giants are cross-training all of their players at different positions, especially in the secondary. Love is a player who can be used a variety of ways in a defensive backfield looking for players to step up after Sam Beal opted out of the season and DeAndre Baker was placed on the Commissioner Exempt List.
"If you watch this system of defense, you'll see that the parts are really interchangeable in the secondary," defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said. "You'll have safeties sometimes moving down and playing corner. You'll have corners sometimes moving back to play safety. We're asking all those guys to be versatile. We're asking them to learn multiple positions.
"That gives us flexibility because I always tell them that one week, especially when you have COVID in the mix and what can happen there, you may have been at corner all of camp and the next thing you know, we have an injury, another guy is out because of COVID, next thing you know, you've switched positions midweek and we play in a couple of days. We're trying to get guys kind of cross-trained and to be ready for when that happens, if it happens. We are asking them to cross-train and learn multiple spots."
WR DAVID SILLS V
Sills made the catch of the day on a walk-off touchdown pass from Colt McCoy to end practice. He beat his man down the left sideline as McCoy hit him perfectly in stride on the deep pass. Daniel Jones also connected with Sills earlier in practice during 1-on-1 drills as the former All-American out of West Virginia has put on a strong showing since starting camp on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Along with fellow first-year pro Alex Bachman and rookie free agents Derrick Dillon, Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, and Tony Brown, Sills is competing for reps in the pecking order.
"They're doing a really good job," Judge said. "One thing is, you look across the meeting room, those guys right there, those young receivers, they have wide eyes and they are staying attached to you the entire meeting wherever I move. They're in-tune and taking good notes."
Yesterday, veteran Golden Tate praised the young players for taking what they learn in the meeting room and translating it to the field.
"These young guys haven't gotten OTAs and the off-season work, we've only had Zoom," he said. "For those guys to be able to digest all that stuff and actually go out and perform on the field, I've been impressed. In my opinion, this is a really good class of young receivers coming in that I'm excited about to help grow. To help them help the team and we are going to take it from there. We are taking it day by day, working on our tools to get better."
RB Saquon Barkley could make this list every day, but he was particularly active today, especially as a receiver. His best catch came in traffic during a blitz period and he looks just as natural wherever he lines up. … McCoy threaded the needle on a pass during 7-on-7 drills to Mack, who had a few catches on the day. … CB Grant Haley nearly had an interception but couldn't quite hang onto the ball as he rolled on his back. … CB James Bradberry forced an incompletion with tight coverage on a deep pass down the sideline. … Rookie CB Darnay Holmes had another pass breakup. … Bachman had a few catches, which he seems to do on a daily basis. ... TE Rysen John made an outstanding catch on a ball from McCoy.