I had the opportunity to attend training camp today as a "VIP guest" and thought I would share a few notes/anecdotes:
- I've attended camp for many years and this is probably the deepest/most talent QB group the Giants have had in preseason for a long-time. Eli looks extremely sharp in practice, his arm is still very strong, and he seamlessly makes the right reads and beautiful throws - the question is whether he can still do it consistently in a game while the bullets are flying, which we'll know soon enough. Jones looks great. I really wouldn't worry about when he becomes the starter whether it's mid-season, end of the season, or in 2020 (that has more to do with how Eli and the team is playing) but just be excited that the Giants drafted this kid and he'll be the future QB. He throws a beautifully tight spiral with incredible ball-placement. He missed wide open receiver for a TD but made up for it with a picture perfect fade in the end-zone to TJ Jones.
- While the offensive line seems set in terms of the starting 5, the rest remains a big question mark re: how many guys they'll carry and which ones will make the final roster. Pulley seems to be the only lock, but Nick Gates and Chris Slade were both getting reps at left and right tackle, respectively, which tells me the Giants are looking for versatility. Wheeler seems to have fallen in the depth chart and was not getting many reps with the first or second team. Evan Brown seems to be working exclusively at guard (not center)
- The wide receivers are an interesting group that I don't think is getting enough credit. They may lack a "star", but the talent and depth is there. Behind Sterling Shephard and Tate are solid veterans in Fowler, Latimer, Russell Shephard, and TJ Jones (who can all get the job done) but #80 Alex Wesley caught my eye - he's a long-shot but a smooth route-runner who gets open and shows good hands. I sat with Darius Slayton's father who was wearing Giants polo, cap, and shoes and excited to watch his son's first practice, although was a bit nervous about his son's uphill battle to make the team (I reassured him that few of the receivers have the top-end speed that his son has and as long as he stays healthy, he has a very good shot at being on the 53).
- I paid close attention to the goaline scrimmage today. The first team defensive unit consisted of Carter, Hill, Lawrence, Tomlinson, McIntosh and Martin along the front, with Davis and Connelly,Thomas, Bethea, and Peppers. They stuffed Barkley on one play and BJ Hill got in Barkley's face after and was chriping a bit, which seemd to get to Barkley who then through the ball in Hill's face and the two had to be separated. Far from a "fight" but good to see some spirited competition
- I noticed Eli Penny and Kenny Ladler were the last two on the practice field working on some technique together. Penny is a really underrated player who is an asset to this team. He's more than just a blocking fullback, but a guy who can catch the ball out of the backfield and on screens.
- Don't count out Nate Stupar to make the team again. Aside from being a special teams standout, he's very vocal and flies around the practice field making plays (even if just with the 2nd team). He also has a big fan in Bettchner.
- At the end of practice, I had a nice heartfelt conversation with Jake Carlock, who was playing with two little kids on the field (presumably his cousins or nephews). I told him it was a hell of a job by him going out there and making a couple big plays the other night. He said the pick-6 was great but seemed almost proud of the sack. For those that don't know this, Carlock is not only from the area (grew up in Babylon and played college ball at LIU) but has been a HUGE Giants fan his whole life. I told him "The whole Giant fanbase is pulling for you, not just because you're a local guy and an underdog story, but because you're one of us", which brought out a big smile from him.