Thursday Fight Football: New York Giants Search For Balance Between Brains and Brawn
NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 7: Justin Pugh #67 of the New York Giants watches a replay during a game against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on December 7, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Giants defeated the Titans 36-7. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Summer love was at a premium during Thursday’s practice session, as a brouhaha between offense and defense emptied the sidelines.

In just over three weeks, the highly anticipated showdown between Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather Jr. will go down at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Thousands, perhaps millions, more will plunk down $100 to witness the fight from home.

But New York Giants fans who visit the team’s training camp activities at the Quest Diagnostic Training Center are enjoying an equally intense, and infinitely cheaper, experience from their seats.

Several further confrontations went down during Thursday’s practice sessions, primarily between offensive and defensive lines during a half run 9-on-7 drill held early in the session. The final showdown, sparked when rookie guard Adam Bisnowaty charged toward a defensive player, caused both sidelines to clear.

Head coach Ben McAdoo spoke on the physicality after practice.

“I like the intensity early in practice. I thought we were physical on both sides of the ball,” McAdoo said. “It was very physical with the gap schemes and that’s a part of it, but we need that physicality. We’re going to turn into a heavy-handed, physical football team. We just have to do a better job of handling the extracurricular activities after the whistle.”

McAdoo added that the fights did not cause the drill to end early.

“We have to commit ourselves to discipline and poise. It takes time to get there,” the second-year head coach said. “It’s just the third day in a row in pads. It usually happens around this time, but we need to commit ourselves to discipline and poise. If we can’t handle it, then I’ll interject and we’ll go do some other things, then come back and finish the drill.”

McAdoo appreciates the intensity and the passion but stressed that the team needed to curb the extracurriculars.

“The extracurricular stuff after the whistle is something that irritates the vets, and those are the things we need to put an end to,” he said. “You can be physical and you can be heavy-handed; you can fit your pads in and you can finish, but when that whistle blows, that extra stuff after the whistle is unnecessary.”

Bisnowaty, the Giants’ sixth-round pick out of Pittsburgh, was part of several post-whistle confrontations on the line, namely one with Romeo Okwara a few plays before the sidelines cleared. The two held onto each other and exchanged words before Damon Harrison forcefully intervened.

Bisnowaty also had an antagonistic get-together with Olivier Vernon, who likewise took the podium after practice.

“Practice is practice. You’re going to get things like that. You know, we just keep moving forward from that. We’re still teammates at the end of the day,” Vernon said. “We’re just out there trying to get better. Once you get in full pads, blood gets flowing and it gets very competitive out there. You know, that’s football.”

Veteran guard Justin Pugh, repping the offensive line, brushed off any long-term repercussions of the on-field civil war.

“That’s football, that’s August camp. It happens every year,” Pugh said. “You go into the locker room, you shake that guy’s hand, you move on from it. It’s part of it. Nine-on-seven, three days in pads we’ve been, so it was bound to happen. We’ve just got to make sure we protect each other because we’re family. At the end of the day, come September, whenever we play Dallas, we’re all on the same team, we’re wearing the same jersey.”

Like McAdoo, however, the former first-round pick stressed the need for a balance between toughness and smarts, and not make any stupid moves that could lead to catastrophe.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to protect each other and be safe,” Pugh said. “You don’t want to end up hurting yourself and knocking yourself out of camp and then hurting yourself on making this team because of something silly like getting in a fight with a guy that you know, it really doesn’t matter that you’re fighting. It’s not going to prove anything within the team.”

Before making that statement, Pugh jokingly stated he would tell Bisnowaty to “grab the facemask and go upper cuts”. After laughing that off, he reiterated the importance of controlling emotions and showing grit.

“We’re a team here, we’re the New York Giants, we do things a certain way,” Pugh said. “We’ve got to make sure we respect the guy across from us and make sure that we’re doing the right things to represent each other, the team, and not put ourselves in a bad position. Because the worst thing that can happen, we lose a guy for an extended period of time.”

Though likely scheduled for a walk-through in tomorrow’s late morning practice, which is slated to begin at 11:55 AM, the Giants are just over a week away from facing off against a team other than themselves. They open their preseason slate against the Pittsburgh Steelers on August 11 (8 PM EST, WNBC).