The New York Giants looked phenomenal during minicamp, which is why there’s excitement heading into training camp which opens on July 25.
Under normal circumstances, tempered expectations remain the norm following a disastrous 3-13 season, but this is not the case for the New York Giants.
After making wholesale changes in the front office, coaching staff and roster, many feel the Giants can be the fourth consecutive team in the NFC East to go from worst in the division to first.
So far, the team has looked good in OTAs and minicamp, but as the widely-used coaching saying goes, “It’s easy to look good when you’re in shorts.” We’ll get a better sense of how far the team has come since last season once they report to training camp and put on pads on July 25.
Here are three things to watch for when training camp opens:
1. A healthy Odell Beckham Jr and Landon Collins
The Giants two best players, Odell Beckham Jr and Landon Collins, saw their 2017 seasons cut short due to injuries. Beckham’s season came to an end in Week 5 due to a fractured ankle while Collins’ season ended prematurely due to a fractured forearm in Week 16.
Both were participants at OTAs and minicamp during position drills, but were kept out of 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 sessions. On the final day of minicamp, Pat Shurmur was asked if he believes Beckham won’t be able to do everything once training camp opens. His response was, “No. No reason to believe that.”
Eli to Odell for the TD pic.twitter.com/o6zjSHMD6g
— Jason Leach (@JasonKLeach) June 14, 2018
Possessing a healthy OBJ and Collins fully participating in training camp and watching them get fully acclimated to the new offensive and defensive schemes will be a huge benefit for the Giants heading into the season.
The Giants offensive line facing the defensive front seven
But he also upgraded the Giants front seven to fit defensive coordinator James Bettcher’s 3-4 scheme by acquiring Alec Ogletree, Kareem Martin, B.J. Hill, Lorenzo Carter and RJ McIntosh.
The additions of Solder, Hernandez and Omameh will provide the offensive line some much-needed nastiness that’s been missing for years. The additions made to the defense fit perfectly with Bettcher’s aggressive blitzing style.
These two units couldn’t fully engage in minicamp and OTAs, but they’ll go all out once training camp starts which will make both units better.
The physicality of these two units will likely allow us to witness a few training camp scuffles between the two including a possible rematch between Hernandez and Damon Harrison (minus the helmet swinging).
Saquon Barkley back in action
The one player that stood out at every practice session was Saquon Barkley, who has impressed his teammates and coaching staff. Only one practice was necessary to see why the Giants took him with the second pick in the draft.
By Barkley’s account, he only dropped one pass in all the practice sessions.
Saquon Barkley at the podium answering questions. He said he's dropped only one pass in all of the practices pic.twitter.com/IiDV329XqH
— Jason Leach (@JasonKLeach) June 13, 2018
During minicamp, defenders had to go easy on Barkley, but training camp offers up a different feel. They’ll be able to go after the prize rookie.
Damon Harrison already stated that he’s looking forward to getting a chance to finally hit Barkley.
“I’m excited to get out there in training camp, so I can hit his ass [laughs]. See what he’s made of. I told him, it’s not Penn State. He’s not going up against [defensive tackle] Josh Banks at Wake Forest. But no, the guy’s explosive, you can see how they will use him in the offense, which will be to our benefit.”
It will be interesting to see how Barkley deals with the physicality of the NFL first hand once training camp opens.