EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — New York Giants head coach Brian Daboll was optimistic Thursday morning that the midday practice against the New York Jets would not turn into a UFC bout.
“All we’re trying to do is get better,” Daboll said before heading out to practice. “We’re not looking to go out there and fight.”
There weren’t any fights. There was some hard-hitting line play, some thumps and a scare when Jets defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers got pushed into Daniel Jones’ legs, forcing the quarterback to fall over backwards.
All in all, though, both sides appeared to get good work out of the 90-minute practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
“Both side acted professional,” said Jets coach Robert Saleh after the practice.
“We both understood we were out here to make each other better, here to compete and make each other better,” said Giants defensive tackle Dexter Lawrence. The big defensive tackle did admit that it was nice that “I got to beat up on some other people.”
Daboll had said before practice that Giants-Jets practices could become a regular thing in seasons to come — provided everyone plays nice.
“I think it’s important to be able to practice with one another. We’d like to do this for a while,” Daboll said. “We’re certainly going to try to do what we can do to just have a good, competitive practice.
“It’s good to have a team right here across the way to compete against. But again, you got to do things the right way, I think. Show respect each other, work hard together to improve and play football. Not interested in going to see a UFC or boxing matches or anything like that, although I love both of those. Just good, competitive football.”
Let’s look at some of the takeaways.
Azeez Ojulari injury
Of course the Giants couldn’t get through practice without an injury.
As practice wound down the Giants ran sprints — 10, 20, 30 and 40-yarders. Halfway through the 40-yard sprint Ojulari, the second-year linebacker who missed the first three weeks of camp with a hamstring injury, pulled up and walked off the field with trainers.
Initial reports are that it is a lower leg injury not related to the hamstring injury. Initial reports from the Giants are that the injury does not appear to be serious.
The Giants are already dealing with several injuries at the edge defender position. Kayvon Thibodeaux is out for the next few weeks with a sprained MCL, Elerson Smith has missed the past couple of weeks with a foot injury and Jihad Ward has also been out of action for the past two to three weeks.
Other injury news
- Sterling Shepard did not do much on Thursday after returning to practice on Wednesday for the first time since tearing his Achilles tendon.
- Wa’Dale Robinson was held out of team drills.
- While we are on the subject of wide receivers, Thursday provided an optimistic sign for Kadarius Toney. Working his way back from an apparent right leg issue, Toney took a handful of 11-on-11 reps. Those are his first team reps in roughly three weeks.
- Wide receiver Alex Bachman, who apparently left practice on Wednesday with a toe issue, was a full practice participant.
- Darius Slayton, who has also been out of several recent practices, worked with the second- and third-teams during team periods. He drew a pass interference penalty on a deep throw by Tyrod Taylor.
- Center Jon Feliciano and interior offensive lineman Jamil Douglas participated in at least some of the team periods.
- Placekicker Graham Gano (concussion) was on the field in a red non-contact jersey.
- DID NOT PRACTICE: Kayvon Thibodeaux (MCL), Dane Belton (collarbone), Ben Bredeson (elbow), Rodarius Williams, Elerson Smith (foot), Cor’Dale Flott, Jihad Ward, Shane Lemieux (foot), Joshua Ezeudu, Garrett McGhin. C.J. Board (ribs) ran on the sideline. Ward did individual drills and conditioning sprints. Ezeudu did some individual work.
Good day for DJ
Giants’ quarterback Daniel Jones has looked better in his two preseason appearances than he has working against the Giants’ defense in practice. That trend continued on Thursday.
Jones went 14 of 15. He did threw an incompletion on a play whistled dead due to a Jets’ offside penalty. His only real blemish of the day was an interception by Bryce Hall of the Jets on a fade for Kenny Golladay in the left corner of the end zone. That, incidentally, was Golladay’s only target of the day.
“I thought overall, it was a pretty good day,” Jones said. “I thought we executed well against their stuff going against a new defense.”
Jones acknowledged feeling increasingly comfortable in the team’s new offense.
“I think we’re all a good bit more comfortable. That’s the process, that’s what happens,” he said. “As you get reps, you get time on task, you run plays, you correct them, you move on. Going through that whole process, you get more and more comfortable. We’re able to get a feel for putting guys in different spots and what guys do best. I think we’re all a good bit more comfortable.
“With that being said, I think we’ve got a good bit of work to do here before our first game in Nashville. That’s what we’re focused on now is continuing that process and getting more and more comfortable.”
Big day for David Sills
Before Collin Johnson was lost for the season, coach Brian Daboll had said that Johnson and David Sills were not only pushing for roster spots, but for playing time.
Thursday, with Shepard and Robinson not practicing and Johnson out of the picture, Sills had a big day. He ran with the first-team offense, aligned most often in a three-receiver package with Golladay and Richie James. Sills was on the receiving end of six of Jones’ 14 completions on the day.
“I think he’s done a great job for us this camp. He’s an extremely hard-working guy who you can count on to be in the right spot,” Jones said. “He’s a smart football player, he knows how to get open, he’s talented from a route-running standpoint and someone who I have worked with a lot. He’s been here for a few years, and I’ve really enjoy working with him. He made a lot of plays today, and he’s made a lot of plays this camp.”
The way practice was structured, the Giants offense worked against the Jets defense on one field, while the Giants defense and Jets offense squared off on the adjacent field. Media had to choose a field and stay there. Yours truly chose to watch Jones and the Giant offense. Here, though, are notes passed along to me about the defense.
- Xavier McKinney and Olaijah Griffin had interceptions.
- The Giants were said to be dominant against the Jets running game.
“They’re strong up front. Savvy. It was good to go against them,” Lawrence said. “You feel different things going against different people. It’s good to have that kind of competition.”
All four of the new Giants — tight end Tanner Hudson, wide receivers Jaylon Brown and Baily Gaither, and cornerback Harrison Hand, participated in practice. Hudson caught a long pass from Tyrod Taylor when the Jets appeared to blow a coverage.
- The two teams did an interesting punt drill. They did what looked like an 8 on 8 drill with the Jets punting and the Giants rushing. It looked like a live rushing/blocking drill, and there was a fair amount of physicality.
- The closest anyone came to an altercation came early in practice when Franklin-Myers beat Evan Neal during a 1-on-1 blocking/rushing drill and finished the play with an extra shove as the rookie walked away.
- Devery Hamilton, stationed at left guard, appeared to have a tough time in those 1-on-1 drills. He appeared to commit fairly obvious holding penalties on both of his reps.
- According to my notes, Saquon Barkley had four rushing attempts and one reception during 11-on-11 work.
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