Football is really starting to feel like it’s back for real with the New York Giants practicing in pads for the first time Saturday.

Returning to Good Health

Not only was it encouraging to see Odell Beckham Jr. and Landon Collins in pads, but Damon “Snacks” Harrison as well. This was Harrison’s debut on the practice field at training camp. Beckham caught a pass in Collins’ area of the field, adding to the camp battle they’ve been having.

Competing for Playing Time

Cornerback Donte Deayon made two very nice plays. He jumped a route to pick off a pass and almost had another interception but couldn’t secure the catch. Deayon is having a strong camp performance this year and it wouldn’t be shocking if he makes the 53-man roster.

Wide receiver Hunter Sharp got open twice against Janoris Jenkins, which isn’t easy by -any means. Sharp caught a touchdown in last year’s regular season finale so don’t count him out just yet.

Roger Lewis picked up his play with a deep reception. He desperately needed that since other receivers have been more impressive so far in training camp. Cody Latimer caught a deep pass on Eli Apple. The competition for the No. 3 wide receiver spot is starting to heat up.

Reasons to be optimistic

Saquon Barkley caught 2 touchdown passes in 7-on-7 drills. He also made a very impressive catch when the ball was thrown at his feet. He was able to make the catch and then explode upfield.

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Beckham’s explosiveness is returning to form while Sterling Shepard gave the corners all kinds of trouble in one-on-one drills as he was rarely covered well.

This looks like the best camp Olivier Vernon has had with the Giants so far. He has gotten consistent pressure every day of camp. His role in James Bettcher‘s 3-4 scheme seems to suit him better since he was an undersized 4-3 defensive end.

Connor Barwin showed he has options when it comes to pass rush moves. He’s been working with the second team but probably not for long with the kind of pressure he’s generating.

Giants who didn’t practice

Defensive lineman R.J. McIntosh (non-football injury) hasn’t been on the practice field as of yet. He was diagnosed with a thyroid condition during the NFL Combine.

Synopsis

It’s hard to tell if the Giants’ offensive tackles aren’t playing well or if Olivier Vernon has unlocked his full potential as a stand-up pass rusher. Vernon is 6-foot-2 and weighs 260 pounds so having his hand in the dirt might not have been ideal for him. Even if Vernon is much better in his new role, the offensive tackles need to start winning their fair share of matchups. The depth at cornerback has been looking good also. The two main concerns going into the season have been coverage and the pass rush and with both of those areas looking competitive, the 2018 Giants have the chance to be a very good team.

– 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.

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