On Wednesday August 12, I got to make my first trip ever to training camp. However, because the Giants were not running full contact practice and there was no tackling, it was hard to really evaluate the defense and the running game. So in making my observations, I mainly focused on the quarterbacks and receivers. Overall, I believe the defense looked better in the live drills, but there were several great plays made by the offense.
In my opinion, Andre Woodson did not look very good. Many of Woodson's passes were off target, including one where he threw the ball with very little velocity right into the hands of a linebacker, who jumped up and easily intercepted the ball. It was a great play for the defense who read Woodson perfectly, but was a very poor decision by Woodson.
Both Eli Manning and David Carr looked very solid. Most of their throws were on target, although there were a few that were deflected by the defense or dropped by the receivers. Rhett Bomar also looked solid, but not particularly memorable.
One of the best catches of the day was made by Ramses Barden. Barden looked very good during the throw and catch drills, catching everything that came his way. He continued his solid play during the live combined offensive and defensive practice. Barden's best play was on a deep ball thrown by Manning. While Barden did not outrun his defender, Manning threw the ball up high and towards the sideline, and Barden turned on the ball perfectly, jumped up to go get the ball and reached over the cornerback's head to make a great catch. The whole crowd gathered at the practice went wild. It was a great looking play. If Barden can make plays like that, I definitely could see him making a strong contribution to the Giants this year.
The next best play of the day was made by Mario Manningham. Manningham made his defender, I believe it was Travonti Johnson (although I could be wrong), look really bad when he made a juke move to the inside and made the defender bite on an inside route. Manningham then sprinted down the sideline for a wide open catch and touchdown. On this play, Manningham showed a glimpse of what a dynamic player he can be.
David Tyree also stood out during the Wednesday morning practice. Tyree made several catches across the middle and ran a few nice comeback routes. He was probably one of the most active receivers of the day. Tyree looked really good at making catches in traffic and looks to have regained his form. Derek Hagan also made a very good catch beating his defender, Terrell Thomas, by sprinting along the sidelines and then running a comeback route, fooling Thomas and making the catch for a large gain.
From everything I have read about the performances of Manningham, Barden and even Tyree during the practice sessions, they have been looking great. My observations of them at this practice supports these reports. I am sure the performances of these receivers this will make Coach Tom Coughlin's decision over which receivers to keep, very difficult. With Smith, Domenik Hixon, Manningham, Barden, Tyree, Hakeem Nicks and maybe even Derek Hagan. Nicks will definitely have a spot on the roster even if he doesn't get much playing time.
All of these developing receivers mean the Giants have significant depth and this will definitely lead to some difficult decisions for Coughlin and his coaching staff. While the Giants do not have a clear #1 or #2 receiver, I think the Giants have several guys who could fill that role. And when you have so many players that could step up into those roles, the odds are that one or more of them will come through. I am incredibly optimistic about the Giants' wide receiver core this year.
On another note, Taye Biddle and Shaun Bodiford were not looking very good in practice. Both of them dropped several balls during both the throw and catch drills and during the live action drills. This is not a good sign for guys who are long shots to make the team.
Plans to Post
I plan to post an entry about Manning's contract and about tonight's pre-season game. But things are definitely looking good for the Giants. We will see tonight if that holds true. This has to be the most excited I have ever been about a pre-season game. I am really looking forward to watching both the first team and the backups play and see how they perform. I will definitely be focusing on the cornerback and wide receiver positions.
(as an aside - Kudos to Manning, Chris Snee, Taye Biddle, Osi Umeniyora, William Beatty, Steve Smith, Michael Matthews, Travis Beckum, among others for stopping to sign several autographs for the many eager fans. (Thanks to Manning, Snee, and Beatty for giving me their autographs)).