Without Justin Tuck and Jason Pierre-Paul on Saturday night against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the New York Giants' pass-rush was effective, but not dominant. Rookie defensive lineman Damontre Moore impressed head coach Tom Coughlin with his play on special teams.
"He obviously enjoys playing and he plays hard, which is a tribute to him and his coaches," said Coughlin of Moore. "But he works on special teams, he covered kicks the other night well, he blocked a punt, he obviously played well in the game. Some of the mental errors that happened we have to eliminate, but he's worked hard."
Moore is using the spectacular punt block as an impetus to keep making a big plays in the big moments.
"It gave me a lot of confidence, to let me know that I can come out here and I can make plays and do things," admitted Moore. "But at the same time, it gave me more motivation because I don't want to feel that experience just once. I want to feel it multiple times. And to see that I helped put my team in a great situation, there's not a better feeling I could have. I use that as motivation to keep making it happen."
Even though Saturday in the Steel City was a breakout game for the rookie, Moore is mindful that he has room for improvement in a few areas.
"Watching film, I'd say containing the edge and not just being so one track minded; really focusing on my assignment and not just looking at the ball," noted Moore. "Like, if it's my assignment to go…a puller or keep the tight end. Just honing in and being more focused on my assignment and not just looking at the ball trying to find it."
Wide receiver Victor Cruz, who had a spectacular 57-yard catch and run against the Steelers, admitted he'll be focusing eliminating any drops in 2013.
"Just concentration," Cruz said. "I think even out here on the practice field I've been training myself to look the ball all the way in, whether I'm in traffic or getting to the ball late or see it late. I'm just looking it all the way into my hands and then making the move later. I think a lot of my drops were me trying to make a move before I actually caught the football. Now I just want to focus on catching the ball first, looking it all the way in, and then taking it from there."
One of the major injury concerns for Big Blue is the concussion suffered by rookie offensive lineman Justin Pugh. The former Syracuse standout is in unchartered waters with regards to his head injury.
"First time I ever had a concussion, so I didn't really know what it was all about," admitted Pugh. "The doctors here did a great job handling everything and I'm D symptom-free so it's been good for me now." Despite the setback, the first year player was itching to get back on the practice field with his teammates.
"Definitely those first couple days when I couldn't even be in the facility, I had to be back at the hotel, you kind of are like, I feel like I'm letting everyone down by being out, but it's the right thing and I know the way the NFL is handling concussions now you have to make sure that you're held accountable and you tell somebody because it's a major thing," Pugh said.
A major bright spot for the Giants has been the play of second year wideout Reuben Randle. Offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has noticed a major improvement in the receiver's development over the course of just one season. "He's light years from where he was last year," said Gilbride of Randle. "Not that there wasn't some physical ability that I think was easily discerned by everybody, but the consistency of performance, the thing we were just talking about, reacting the right way on all the different looks that you get, in the professional ranks. That wasn't at the level that you needed, but in terms of his work ethic, his leadership has been phenomenal, and he's always had great hands. He's always been a smooth route runner, he's always going up and gotten any throw that was close. I think he shows good body control and that kind of stuff. Just in terms of making the right decisions off the coverages, he's not being fooled. "
"Just obviously have some more drives, have a couple more series, just being sharper overall and our execution; sometimes, you know it's not exactly where the ball's going but the backside and different routes and make sure everybody's doing the right assignments and doing it well so we'll just continue to work on that and play at a faster level," mentioned Manning.