It’s that special time of year as the entire New York Giants team started practicing together Thursday.
In some ways, it looked like a first practice. In other ways, it was very encouraging.
Returning to Good Health
Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. looked healthy coming back from a broken ankle. He was a limited participant, but Giants fans should be optimistic about his 11-on-11 live team reps where he caught a few passes. Beckham lined up in the slot more often, something we haven’t seen very often in the previous offense. Fellow receiver Sterling Shepard said Beckham actually looks more explosive than he’s ever seen from him, which is almost hard to believe. Beckham also got extra work in with quarterback Eli Manning after practice.
Safety Landon Collins looked to be healthy after having forearm surgery during the offseason. He participated in many live reps Thursday.
Competing for Playing Time
Cody Latimer is getting the first crack at the No. 3 receiver position. Latimer was able to get behind cornerback Janoris Jenkins down the field but couldn’t capitalize since the pass was thrown short by Manning. While this was encouraging, the team seems to like what they’ve seen from Amba Etta-Tawo and Hunter Sharp as well. This competition isn’t nearly over but Roger Lewis could be on the outside looking in.
Darian Thompson lined up as the starting free safety. Andrew Adams, Curtis Riley, and even Michael Thomas will get opportunities to showcase their abilities as well. This will be one of the most heated battles throughout training camp unless Thompson taps into that third-round potential very soon.
Jon Halapio started out as the first team center. Brett Jones also saw first-team reps but not as many as Halapio. Halapio is in the lead right now, but that could change when the pads come on. Head coach Pat Shurmur seems to favor Halapio because of his size advantage on Jones.
Cornerback William Gay lined up as the starting nickel back. Gay has plenty of experience but the team was very high on Donte Deayon in training camp last year. If Deayon excels with the second team again this year, he could push Gay for first team reps.
Reasons to be optimistic
Linebacker Alec Ogletree was credited with a couple of pass breakups and was all over the field which is something the Giants have been missing from inside linebackers in recent years.
Cornerback Eli Apple was able to turn his head around in coverage and break up a pass without contacting the receiver, something he hasn’t been very good at so far in his young career.
The defense was in the backfield for much of Thursday’s practice session. That’s not so good for the offense.
Rookie running back Saquon Barkley was very involved in the passing game and had the awareness to cut off a defender’s lane to Beckham, giving him a clear path to a would-be touchdown.
Players who didn’t practice
Nose tackle Damon Harrison didn’t practice with an undisclosed injury, but the team expects to see him in action soon. Rookie defensive tackle R.J. McIntosh began training camp on the non-football injury list. McIntosh has been dealing with a thyroid condition.
Training camp has just begun and the team looked rusty in certain areas. There are also reasons to be optimistic. It doesn’t look like the 2018 Giants will have trouble on the offensive side of the ball which makes the defense an X-factor for playoff contention this coming season.
– Christian Morell is a Contributor for Full Press Coverage and covers the NFL and the New York Giants. Please like and follow on Facebook and Twitter. Christian can be followed on Twitter @Cmorell72.