Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Training Camp observations I

I haven't  been out to training camp yet, planning to go next week sometime. Consequently, these observations are limited to the various reports from all the media outlets that I read voraciously and from the film that I watch, released by the Giants and from other sources.

It seems that our QB is having a great camp and is feeling very comfortable with the weapons and the offense. We can't get overconfident in this, because in camp, the OL and DL don't get to grit their teeth and go after it that hard - they don't hit the QB, the QB knows he's not going to get hit, so he just stands there and throws. Nevertheless, it's better that he looks great than not. He threw an INT on the first pass in camp and has not thrown one since. I said this before and it may sound ridiculous - but if it's possible for a two time Super Bowl MVP to be underrated, Eli is the one.

Everyone is excited about Sterling Shepard; he seems to make a big play every practice and is very polished and professional. You can't get too crazy about the highlights the Giants release of him, because they are after all highlights meant to show off the best in a player. But he does certainly look like a play maker. The flip side of that is that while everyone is saying that Cruz is coming along and if he ends up delivering 75% or 80% of what he used to be, all will be well in Giants land. I disagree. He's not and never has been a dominant physical presence. He is smallish and quick, not a speed merchant. He was dangerous for a slot receiver, perhaps the most dangerous slot receiver in the league. But it may be a very narrow margin and if he loses that step, that quickness that distinguished him, it's possible that he could become a very ordinary receiver. Parallel history lesson: There was an NBA player named Hal Greer - great player, played on the old 76er teams with Wilt Chamberlain. He was a 6'2" guard, quick as could be. He didn't have to worry about dropping down to help rebound, because Wilt had his back. When the opposing shot went up, he ran down court, caught an outlet pass from Chamberlain, dribbled hard to the basket, stopped at the foul line, let everyone run past him and scored 10 points a game on open jump shots from the foul line. As he aged, one year he lost a step and no longer could beat everyone down the court. He was out of the league in a year. Sometimes it's a very thin margin that makes a player special and when he loses that edge, he doesn't go from great to very good, he goes from great to ordinary.

From what I've seen on film of Cruz, he does not have the sharpness and separation ability in his routes. When he runs the hook / comeback routes, it looks like he has to take 4 or 5 little baby steps to slow down and stop before he comes back for the ball. This gives the DB a chance to break on the route and stop the play. The 4 or 5 steps could be an indication of weakness in his calf and knee or his mental uncertainty in trusting his legs. Or it could be that the Giants are asking him to proceed slowly and he is working his way back. But if you look at his physical condition, his upper body strength, he looks great; so you would expect his wheels to be equally strong. The fact that they don't look great to me is a warning signal.

TE is a really interesting position to handicap. LaCosse has played well but keeps getting hurt. Will Tye played very well last year and is a lock to make the team. Donnell is big, has talent the Giants love, but he drops the ball, fumbles after the catch, falls on his head after every catch and has a close to 0 YAC number. When this happens to a rookie, you hope for improvement, but he's been around too long to have strong expectations that this will change. The draftee Adams will probably show enough in camp and in game films that the Giants will not be able to sneak him through onto the practice squad. They have Will Johnson who will take up snaps at TE during the season...... my point is: I am not sure Donnell's roster spot is safe.

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