Fan View: Training Camp 8/4

The Giants, coming off a day of rest on Sunday, looked a little less than sharp at times during the hour and 50 minute practice. But there is a time during every training camp when the players hit a physical wall where they may have a down day or two.

ith tropical humidity and the threat of thunderstorms over the University at Albany campus, the Giants hit the practice fields for the afternoon session on Monday in preparation of their preseason opener at New England on Thursday night. Whether it was the increase in humidity or the fact that the dog days of training camp are starting to get to some of the players and coaches, tempers and short fuses could be seen in a number of drills and in the live scrimmage formats as well.

Coach Fassel was annoyed with several Giant players, and in the very first offensive drill of the day, in which he was personally overseeing, tight end candidate Mark Inkrott felt the head coach's wrath when he lined up incorrectly in a pass drill. Fassel stopped the play, pulled Inkrott out of the drill completely, and screamed to tight ends coach Mike Pope to send a player in that could do the job properly.

Because of the impending bad weather situation, the pace of practice was accelerated somewhat to maximize the number of drills the Giants players could get in. So less time was spent in individual drills than usual. One thing that was emphasized in a number of areas were blocking drills.

Tight end coach Mike Pope, with his unit, as well as several back up offensive linemen, worked on different run blocking techniques. One of the areas stressed over and over with each of the tight ends was the ability to kick out going in front of the offensive tackle and taking on a pursuing linebacker. Marcellus Rivers and rookie tight end Visanthe Shiancoe struggled in a few of the reps but, with some prodding from coach Pope, the latter part of the drill went well.

The wide receivers focused, with coach Jimmy Robinson, on poorly thrown passes. For example, balls thrown behind the receiver and balls thrown tight into the sidelines. The usual suspects on the Giants receiver corps all did extremely well. Wide receiver Tim Carter is making a huge statement this camp by catching everything thrown at him, and his negotiating of the sidelines on several catches was outstanding.

Also, the receivers, as a group, worked on down field blocking off of a number of formations and with specific pass patterns being run to set up the particular blocking scheme. Wide receiver Ike Hilliard excelled in this area and was actually instructing rookies Kevin Walter, Willie Ponder, and David Tyree in some of the technique oriented drills.

The Giants then got down to business in various 5-on-5, 7-on-7, and 9-on-9 drills. To further get ready for their preseason opener, the Giants also employed a game clock to get the quarterbacks and Giants players back in the swing of having a time element involved.

Street free agent quarterback Ryan Van Dyke, who spent last preseason with Seattle, has had a relatively quiet camp so far as the Giants fourth quarterback. But today he made several nice throws, including a touchdown pass to wide receiver Willie Ponder. Van Dyke also got some limited reps with the Giants second unit offense for the first time this camp.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Giants linebackers did some individual pursuit drills with linebackers coach Tom Olivadotti and defensive coordinator Johnnie Lynn, with an emphasis on pass coverage and later some drills in run support.

Some of the best live hitting took place in the last 30 minutes of the practice session. However, at times both units, offense and defense, looked sloppy and coach Fassel let everyone within ear shot know that he was displeased with the effort.

Several Giants jumped off sides, forcing coach Fassel to institute a penalty for each foul, with a number of players having to run laps and being pulled out of the line up immediately after committing the penalty. Fullback Charles Stackhouse got an earful and was not only told to run laps but was actually told to run around the perimeter fence that surrounds the five practice fields at U. Albany. The other players that had to run penalty laps included tight end Darnell Dinkins, offensive tackle Luke Petitgout, guard Vincent Sandoval, offensive tackle Jeff Roehl, and guard David Diehl.

Tempers flared between the players, with defensive tackle Keith Hamilton and guard Rich Seubert getting into a fight at the bottom of a pile up. The two were separated rather quickly.

On the injury front, the Giants got a few players back, with fullback Charles Stackhouse returning to practice, as well as rookie cornerback Rod Babers. Wide receiver Tim Carter, who was limited in the morning session, participated fully and showed no signs of injury throughout the afternoon.

As for standout players, tight end Jeremy Shockey made a couple of nice catches in traffic, Willie Ponder beat cornerback Ralph Brown on a long pass thrown by quarterback Jesse Palmer, and running back Tiki Barber had some exceptional runs over the course of the afternoon. One of the nicest plays of the day came when rookie wide receiver Kevin Walter made a nice over the shoulder grab in the end zone.

Special teams was limited due to impending weather, however, the Giants punt team did work on punting from the end zone with a short snap. Free agent punter Jeff Feagles had some booming kicks against the wind, and his directional kicking was outstanding.

The Giants, coming off a day of rest on Sunday, looked a little less than sharp at times during the hour and 50 minute practice. But there is a time during every training camp when the players hit a physical wall where they may have a down day or two. This also was, by far, the most humid day and, no doubt, the most uncomfortable for the players so far in 2003. Tomorrow will see the Giants back at it with two sessions, morning and afternoon, and no doubt the coaches' focus will be on being sharper than today's effort.

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