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Thunder and Lightning Not Just in the Sky as New York Giants Put the Pads On

If you noticed thunder and lightning in East Rutherford, you’re right. But it wasn’t just in the sky. It came on the field as the New York Giants strapped up the pads. 

EAST RUTHERFORD—Wednesday’s events at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center involved the first appearance of the 2017 New York Giants in pads, two appearances of the injury cart, post-whistle showdowns and the disappearance of a star defensive player.

And that was all before the thunder and lightning rolled in.

Inclement weather forced an eventful practice indoors, as the Giants suited up in full for the first time this season. Not among the padded, however, was Jason Pierre-Paul, who spent most of practice either on the sidelines or with the trainer, clad in a hoodie rather than his pads.

Giants fans can rest assured, however, as Pierre-Paul absence was choreographed, part of a planned rest day for the veteran.

“(Head coach Ben McAdoo) just pulled me out and said we’re just doing what’s best for the team and what’s best for me,” Pierre-Paul said. “I like to go, but he pulled me out and he is doing what is best for the team. Nothing is wrong with me.”

“We make sure we communicate with the player and the player communicates with us,” McAdoo said, speaking after Pierre-Paul. “After studying the information and the data and the history of the player, I thought it was best for JPP to take a day to do some rehab to get ready to go tomorrow.”

What wasn’t planned, however, was an injury to Sterling Shepard, who was carted off of the field during a non-contact drill early in the session. Shepard looked to be in considerable pain as he departed, though McAdoo leaned toward optimism when questioned about the injury after practice.

“At this point, he looks like he has a rolled ankle. A basketball-type ankle, but we’ll see how he responds to treatment and go from there,” McAdoo said. “He was running a hammer route, put his foot in the ground and rolled his ankle. We’ll all know more when I go in and we take a look at it. At this point it just looks like he has a sprained ankle.”

Kim Jones of NFL Network later reported that Shepard had a “low ankle sprain“, and fellow receiver Odell Beckham Jr. took to Instagram to do a little reporting of his own.

Shepard, entering his second season, will be evaluated for further tests. McAdoo also added that Shepard was carted off for precautionary purposes. Later in the practice, the cart came out again to tend to undrafted rookie G Jessaman Dunker, who left with a foot injury, per McAdoo.

His departure allowed other receivers, namely Tavarres King, Travis Rudolph and Darius Powe, to showcase their talents, filtering in and out with the first team. Powe continued to have a strong training camp, making several more grabs in his quest to make an NFL roster. Undrafted in 2016, Powe spent all of last season on the practice squad.

“It’s definitely just confidence. I feel like I play a lot better knowing that I’m a lot better (than I was last season),” Powe said when asked about the biggest difference between this summer and last. “The time with the practice squad definitely helped with the confidence, to perform better than I did last year.”

King, perhaps the Giants’ offensive MVP in their playoff cameo last season in Green Bay, also impressed his peers. Earning a roster spot thanks to a strong summer in 2016, King isn’t relenting when it comes to this preseason.

“As a competitor, me, I’m always somebody that’s a competitive person and I think that I’ve got to be on it every day. So, definitely I feel like I’ve got to get it every day,” King said. “You can’t really look back. You’ve got to look forward. I’m happy (with) the way things went. I’m happy that I got an opportunity in the end and that I did well with the opportunity. But now, it’s all about getting better and building on that. I want to build on that to help this team any way that I can.”

As an undrafted free agent, albeit a highly touted one, Rudolph is the latest underdog hoping an awesome August will secure him an NFL roster spot, following in the Giant footsteps of Victor Cruz. Notably, Rudolph tallied himself a deep score when rookie QB Davis Webb found him during a 7-on-7 period.

During the same period, Webb made a connection with LB Mark Herzlich, who lined up in the tight end spot. Webb and Herzlich teamed up for three receptions during the period.

However, not all was peaceful between the offense and defense. RB Orleans Darkwa and LB BJ Goodson engaged in extracurriculars after the whistle, with Darkwa being removed from the confrontation by CB Eli Apple. The peace was short-lived, as a showdown between LB Devon Kennard and one of the offensive linemen after the very next play, emptying both sidelines. While the offensive perpetrator wasn’t identified, conflicting reports thought it to be either Bobby Hart, Weston Richburg or Justin Pugh.

McAdoo was unfazed by the bad blood.

“We had a couple dust-ups, but nothing major. We had it under control,” McAdoo said. “We’re going to have a little bit of that, we have pads on. Guys aren’t going to feel great, especially come the end of the week. That’s healthy.”

Shortly after the fracas, practice was moved into the nearby fieldhouse due to lightning in the area. A competition period was added during the shift, featuring an offense vs. defense setup, where representatives from each side fielded a simulated punt with a ball already in their hand. The offense, featuring the talents of Beckham, prevailed, sentencing the defense to push-ups.

McAdoo praised his team’s adjustment from the unexpected interruption.

“We had the transition inside and we were only two minutes off of schedule,” McAdoo reported. “So, they handled it fairly well.”

Should the weather cooperate, the Giants will go back outside tomorrow for another padded session, once more starting at 10:55 AM. If the weather holds, practice will once more be open to the public.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490