Today was an abbreviated practice for the New York Giants, which was ironic because it was cloudy and (relatively speaking) cool. I’m sure it will be a billion degrees tomorrow, which also happens to be the first day pads come on, though only the shoulder pads.
Full pads go on for Sunday, and then we’ll get a really good look at where the team is at both schematically and physically.
Before we get into our abbreviated practice notes, let’s talk about a few general NFL things.
Ray Rice Gets The Hammer Dropped
If you sense sarcasm there, well that’s because there is a lot of it.
After months of waiting, the NFL announced that Rice will be suspended the first two games of the season, returning just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, as pointed out by Pro Football Talk’s Darin Gantt.
Now, there is a lot to unpack here and I’ll try to do it quickly.
First, we don’t know all the details and while we are told there is a video of the incident, we haven’t seen it. So maybe there is something in it which makes a difference.
I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate because personally, I find the punishment ridiculous.
Secondly, whereas suspensions for marijuana are more severe, that’s because the league has a policy for it. It does not have one regarding domestic violence. It should, but doesn’t.
As far as anyone outside the league is concerned though, it looks as though you can hit your wife (two games) but don’t do it while smoking pot (a four game suspension if you’re in Stage One already).
The problem of domestic violence in our country is very real. As the NFL is often a reflection of society, it’s also very real there. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear it was a bigger problem in the NFL because we are talking about guys who play highly physical and violent game.
Regardless, we’re looking at a situation which-at least on the surface-seems to be the league being more concerned about someone smoking pot (legal in some states) than it is punching your fiancé.
There’s no good way to look at this. While I doubt the four-to-six games we all expected would have satisfied everyone, the two games satisfies very few people.
Hopefully this is a wake-up call for the league. I won’t hold my breath though.
In other news:
Chris Ivory is already hurt in Jets camp. Which allows me to use this gem:
Also under the “you don’t say” portion of our report, Oakland Raiders cornerback DJ Hayden is on the PUP to start camp and just had foot surgery for a stress fracture. There is no timetable for his return.
The Raiders took a chance on the athletic corner despite some injury issues and last season those issues kept him off the field for eight games. It looks very much like that will be the case to start the season again.
Already indefinitely suspended Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon was arrested for pot possession. Owner Shad Khan will not be cutting him. Given that fellow receiver Ace Sanders is also in trouble for drug issues, maybe the Jaguars have an issue or two with weed?
You Packers fans already know that Jordy Nelson is looking for $10 million per season. Personally I’d pay the man, who has taken discounts before, but it’s not my money.
Rookie running back Terrance West has been activated from the active/non-football injury list by the Cleveland Browns and while everyone will talk Brian Hoyer/Johnny Manziel, the camp battle I am interested in is at running back between West and Tate. I would not be shocked if West won the job outright, and fully expect to see a lot of him even if he doesn’t as Tate has a horrible habit of being hurt anyway.
So your fantasy football tip is: grab West in the mid rounds. You’re welcome.
Now onto the Big Blue Report for today:
As I said earlier, it was an abbreviated practice today but that didn’t stop coach Tom Coughlin from continuing to be frustrated with rookie receiver Odell Beckham Jr, who continues to have a hamstring injury.
I wasn’t kidding when I tweeted this today:
There seems to be growing frustration with Beckham and his hammy. Everytime Coughlin says "soft tissue injury" his eyebrow twitches.
— Andrew Garda (@Andrew_Garda) July 24, 2014
And I’m not the only one who sensed a growing, shall we say, concern over Beckham’s continued issues.
Coughlin on Beckham's recovery: "Let's face it: I don't want it to be like it was in the spring."
— Ebenezer Samuel (@ebenezersamuel) July 24, 2014
The problem here is, the longer Beckham is out, the smaller his role will probably be and the team could really use him as a vertical threat. Right now Jerrel Jernigan is ostensibly the No. 3 receiver here and potential vertical threat. But Beckham has a lot more upside and I think more speed.
So getting Beckham on the field will help him learn the offense as well as work on the chemistry between he and Eli Manning, which as you all know is key to this type of short-game, rapid-pace offense.
Manning looked very good today, especially when he looked for Cruz. If a Giants fan was looking for some hope that things will be ok, that’s where they should gaze. The overall offense is still a work in progress, but every day they look better.
"There are always going to be small gains," coach Tom Coughlin told us after practice wrapped. "You may have a good day, but it is the consistency factor, the competition factor, working against good people, it's the intelligent communication adjustments from the quarterbacks to the entire offense to the receiver corps."
Cruz said the other day that he loves to get the ball into his hands quickly, where he feels he can do some real damage. That seems to be bearing out, at least in shorts and shells, as every pass he took from Manning seemed destined for a big gain.
While the offense is struggling a little with timing, Cruz and Manning are already on the same page.
Which only highlights the need to get Beckham off the trainer’s table and onto the field.
On another note, I may have been one of backup quarterback Ryan Nassib’s supporters, but this week is putting that to the test. He takes too long to get the ball out, gets too many passes batted and throws too many ugly looking balls.
NJ.com writer Jordan Raanan called it “uninspiring” in his practice piece today and that sums it up perfectly. Other backup Curtis Painter hasn’t exactly been Phil Simms out there, but Nassib is the one GM Jerry Reese hung his hat on and it’s hard to imagine anyone is very pleased with his progress so far.
Not so with running back David Wilson, who looks like he has some pep in his step as he returns from injury. Of course, ball security is his issue and we won’t see if he has solved it until there is contact. But he looks to be establishing himself as the No. 2 behind Rashad Jennings, who has looked very strong himself.
Far behind is rookie Andre Williams, who runs well but hasn’t established himself as a pass-blocker or pass-catcher. They didn’t ask him to catch the ball much at Boston College and the last time I saw that in a player who might have a shot at starting was with former New York Jet and current Tennessee Titan Shonn Greene.
And we all know how that has turned out so far.
That’s not to say the guy can’t learn, just that it is a dicey proposition. He does get a lot of goal-line shots though, so that might be a good role for him.
I’m betting you have noticed that there haven’t been a lot of defensive notes so far this week. There’s a reason for that and really it’s just too tough to really tough to gauge how a defense will look when there are no pads.
I will say that I have been surprised by the play of rookie linebacker Devon Kennard, who according to the unofficial/official depth chart we were handed today is the starting SAM linebacker. He’ll likely get moved out of there when Jon Beason returns to the middle and then Jameel McClain kicks out to the SAM, but it’s encouraging and so far his play has been solid.
Beyond that, I am hoping for some more notes after this weekend when we see the guys in pads.
Until tomorrow, have a great night!
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