The Christopher Allen Report: August 3rd

Under bright, sunny skies and with temperatures hovering around the 90 degree mark the Giants took to the practice field in the stadium at U Albany for their last workout before traveling to Canton, Ohio on Sunday to play in their preseason opener, the Hall of Fame Game, versus the Houston Texans in front of a national television audience.

Working out in shells and shorts the Giants had a light, but productive, workout in mainly a situational and technique driven session. They even found time at the beginning of the practice to work on how to take the field properly for their pregame warm up Monday night in Canton. It may seem simplistic but, when you think about it, to have 80 some individuals line up correctly takes a bit of practice and some doing. However, the squad seemed to handle this very easily.

Coach Fassel addressed the total squad prior to beginning their drills and stressed something which has been the theme of this camp so far, that being to play smart, fundamentally sound football and to show consistancy, not only from practice to practice but from play to play as well.

Once the team split into their individual position groups the QBs spent much of their time together working on footwork in 3, 5, and 7 step drops. The offensive line used this opportunity to work on hand drills and getting out of their stances quickly. A bright spot for the O line also was the return of C Dusty Zeigler to the practice field. He won't play Monday in Canton, that's for sure, but even with limited contact it was a bright spot to see him take his place on the starting O line. Also participating fully were Jason Whittle and Chris Bober. Rookie OT Jeff Hatch, who has missed several days of practice, was absent from the field and rumors continue to circulate as to the severity and very nature of his injury.

QB Darnell Dinkins got the most work so far in his time at training camp with the Giants, and he struggled throughout the session in both his decision making and accuracy. In a 7 on 7 drill Ralph Brown picked off a Dinkins pass that was poorly thrown, prompting OC Sean Payton to take Dinkins aside for some up close instruction.

Much of the practice was devoted to getting personnel groups in accordance with down and distance packages on and off the field in a timely fashion. Coach Fassel stopped play on more than one occasion during the afternoon to stress the importance of tempo. They also used this time to get players familiar with the game clock and getting the right personnel on the field for a particular play called. This was true for all three units, and each of them took reps in this fashion. A great deal of the practice was spent on these types of drills.

Jason Garrett hit WR/TE Taman Bryant for a long hook up which brought the large crowd at U Albany to its feet. Also making nice catches were TE Dan Campbell and a beautiful seam route run by TE b>Jeremy Shockey. WR Tim Carter, still recovering from a bruised back, sat out the practice, but did participate in the conditioning segment. He will not play, however, Monday night.

Later in the practice more situational work was done with QB Kerry Collins in hurry up mode working on getting the players set and spiking the ball, then getting off the field quickly and getting the field goal team on before the play clock ran out. For the most part, the Giants handled this very well. PK Owen Pochman looked extremely sharp, making all of his kicks.

The Giants also used part of their two hours on the field to work on kick off coverage, even working on a few onside kick drills, with special teams coach Bruce Read doing some very hands on instruction. Even punter Rodney Williams, who punted extremely well all day, worked on free kicks, should that situation come up during the year.

It was difficult today, especially from a defensive standpoint, with no contact allowed, to gauge outstanding players, or for that matter players who were playing poorly. But with the upcoming preseason game Monday night, you can liken this portion of training camp which has passed to the first quarter of a game. It's almost been a feeling out process by the coaches and the new players, with a tremendous amount of emphasis on instruction and some very hands on efforts by all the Giants assistant coaches. We've also seen coach Fassel spending time with each individual unit and just about every coach on the Giants being involved somehow on special teams.

When the Giants return to practice at U Albany on Wednesday, August 7, they will have learned a little bit about themselves under game conditions. In addition to the technique aspect of previous practices, you'll find the coaches installing more of their actual game plans and much more scheme.

With five preseason games this year a key, and also a fear, for coach Fassel will be keeping players healthy and on the field so that they can work on the scheme installed, while maintaining their edge. It's a very fine line from keeping players sharp to having players over practiced and fatigued. The Giants have just closed the book on the first stage of their preseason, yet they still have a long road to go in a short period of time.

At the end of practice a number of Giants players made themselves available to the many fans on hand for photos and autographs. Many of them spending close to an hour after the session ended with the fans. Former Giant and current Giants broadcaster, Harry Carson, was also in attendance and spent a great deal of time talking with Giants fans. It was a nice touch by the Giants at Family Fun Day at U Albany.

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