EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — It didn’t take long to see Joe Judge has made changes in how the New York Giants do things at training camp.
From the time the players arrive in buses from nearby MetLife Stadium, the 90-minute practice is at a fast pace and detail oriented. The jerseys only have numbers. No names. When a player or groups of players make a mistake, they run penalty laps.
During some drills, two different groups of offensive and defensive players will mirror scripted plays seconds apart so the staff can evaluate more players in this camp condensed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Every second counts with the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers (Sept. 14) less than a month away.
“Football is football,” Judge said. “Every team in this league is good, everyone has talent, everyone has good coaches. You have to come to work every day to improve. In training camp, you compete against your teammates. Sooner than later, we are going to be competing against other teams in the league. We have to understand that and make sure our focus is sharp every day going forward.”
The workout Monday was the first padded one for the Giants after a couple of weeks of light workouts for conditioning and learning the offensive and defensive schemes on the field. While adding shoulder pads was the natural next step, Judge said his focus was making sure the team used the right techniques and executed.
The former New England Patriots special teams coordinator believes that’s the key to winning. The Giants could use that precision after winning 12 games in the past three seasons.
The penalty laps were surprising. It’s almost old-time football.
“There are consequences on the field for making mistakes,” the 38-year-old, first-year head coach said. “In a game, it’ll cost you five, 10, or 15 yards. In practice, there needs to be consequences so we learn how to deal with our mistakes.”′
Veteran wide receiver Sterling Shepard said he has not run penalty laps since high school. Running back Saquon Barkley could not remember when he was on a team that ran laps.
Also of interest: players in blue and white jerseys without any names on them. It was hard to remember the last time the Giants took the field without names on their jerseys. It made mandatory having rosters handy.
“”To me, it’s important to know who the players are on the field across from you by their body type and how they move, more so than having to see a nameplate to identify your teammate,” Judge said. “We should know each other as coaches and players by how we move and the way we carry ourselves.”
It should also help preparing to play an opponent.
Shepard, who is now the longest-serving Giants player entering his fifth season, said this is the first time most of the players have had pads on since the last game of last season. The veterans’ mandatory camp in June was canceled because of the pandemic.
“Some of us were very excited about it,” Shepard said. “I know the coaches were fired up about it. It’s always like going to the first day of class. Guys were amped up in the locker room about it. ”
Barkley, coming off a season slowed by a high ankle sprain, also enjoyed having the pads on again, and the quick changes in practice sessions.
“You are going to have sudden change,” he said. “There are times in games where the offense might have a turnover, the defense might create a turnover and vice versa, and we have to go out on the field and be able to respond and be able to capitalize on that moment. What’s going on, football is not the way it was in the past. … we are doing different things. That’s part of the game, not just the game, but that’s part of life.”
NOTES: The Giants’ decision to cut Chandler Catanzaro on Monday means they will be without a placekicker for most of the week. Under NFL protocol for coronavirus, once a new player is signed, he will have to take three tests for the COVID-19 virus in a four-day period. The tests will be done on the first, second and fourth day the player arrives in the area. If the tests are negative, the player’s daily COVID-19 tests begin on the fifth day. Another negative result will allow him to enter the club facility for the first time.