Running back Dorsey Levens sat the practice out with a pulled leg muscle, as did safety Johnnie Harris with a possible hamstring problem. On the bright side, safety Clarence LeBlanc returned to the field from the physically unable to perform list, and he participated fully in all the drills and in the live format as well.
In the individual drills section at the beginning of practice the wide receivers, with coach Jimmy Robinson, worked on catching passes thrown to the wrong side of the receiver and, on longer throws, passes that would be over the wrong shoulder. The tight ends, with coach Mike Pope, and with the focus of the large crowd on hand squarely on Number 80 Jeremy Shockey, did a number of reps on the blocking sled and focused on in-line run blocking, also releasing off the line of scrimmage into pass patterns as well as blocking on runs to the outside. Shockey seemed to take out some of his frustrations on the blocking sled, slamming it to the ground at the end of his reps on it.
Coach Fassel, who had previously spent a great deal of time in his role as offensive coordinator on that side of the ball, today spent a good portion of the practice with the defensive unit, and in particular, with the linebackers as they went through their individual drills and also when they worked with the tight ends in pass coverage drills.
Defensive coordinator Johnnie Lynn and linebackers coach Tom Olivadotti appeared to be installing a bit more complexity than in past sessions and were stressing making the proper reads in regards to the offensive formation presented to the linebackers. Rookie tight end Visanthe Shiancoe had a nice battle going with backup linebacker Kevin Lewis, with each of them having their moments. As it has been from day one of training camp, Jeremy Shockey beats most of the coverage thrown up against him. Today being no exception.
The middle portion of the practice added yet another wrinkle, this time in drills with all the Giants quarterbacks working on the Giants audible and check down system under a wide variety of formations. During each rep with each particular unit, first, second, or third, the Giants quarterbacks worked on communication with the receivers and backs, checking from pass plays to run plays and vise-versa. It would appear that Kerry Collins, especially, is going to have the most freedom he has had within the Giants system to change plays at the line of scrimmage as the situation and defensive scheme dictates. Other than a few instances, the drill went off without flaws, but of course there was no opposing defense involved.
There also seemed to be an increased focus on situational packages with the Giants displaying an empty backfield look having Tiki Barber and, during his reps, Ron Dayne split out wide as a receiver with the Giants running out of the shotgun. This forced the Giants defense to make adjustments and getting single coverage on the Giants tight ends, or at least one of the receivers.
The practice was broken up a bit when a fight broke out between safety Ryan Clark and offensive guard Sean O'Connor. Coach Fassel kicked Clark out of the practice after Clark threw a punch at O'Connor, but order was restored in quick fashion.
Special teams took the stage with each kicker making each of their attempts from the 25-35 yard range. Both Matt Bryant and Mike Hollis displayed good leg strength and height on their attempts. A point of interest, especially to the crowd in attendance, was the Giants practicing the "fire" drill in which a bad snap was simulated and holder Jeff Feagles was asked to throw the ball into the end zone, or spike it, depending on the situation. It seems last year's bizarre ending in the playoffs has the Giants working on every contingency. Also, special teams coach Bruce Read had his players working on PAT and field goal blocks.
The day finished with some intense work in an 11-on-11 format and the Giants breaking out the two minute no huddle offense, incorporating the audibles they had previously worked on. This also became the Kerry Collins to Amani Toomer show, with Collins looking extremely sharp mixing up the run and the pass and Amani Toomer cutting up the Giants secondary.
One of the bigger defensive stops of the day was when coach Lynn called for a run blitz and the interior of the Giants defensive line crushed running back Delvin Joyce behind the line of scrimmage. Also, the first unit offensive line, and especially the right side of Tam Hopkins and Ian Allen, held their own throughout the day in run and pass blocking. But in their individual drills it was easy to see that coach Jim McNally's focus was on them, and on them in a big way.
The session, from beginning to end, had a serious workmen like tone, and coach Fassel's message that there was a great deal of work to do seemed to be taken to heart in what was a very spirited two hours.