Around the scheduled end time for a two-hour practice, Joe Judge called the Giants together and cut the music.
It quickly became clear over the silence that this wasn’t the end. This was a new beginning.
Judge ripped his team with colorful language during a short pause in an otherwise nonstop practice on a hot Monday morning, and he liked the response over the extended 30 minutes of mostly 11-on-11 two-minute drill and other drive-the-field action.
“They definitely ended with a good intensity at practice, competing at the end,” Judge said after cooling off literally and figuratively. “We have to get it where we come off a day off and we start sharp. That’s definitely something we have to work on as a team and improve.”
The maximums allowed in NFL training camp are a 2 ½-hour practice plus an hour of walk-through. The Giants didn’t waste a minute at the end or during their window.
Judge said several players — Shane Lemieux, Spencer Pulley, Rysen John and Jabrill Peppers — were tended to by trainers and left practice with “cramping” despite the staff emphasis on hydration. The rest of the team practiced in multiple simultaneous groups at a frenetic pace across two fields, with plenty of situational team drills — a sign the regular season is fast approaching.
A special teams period wrapped just as Judge huddled all 81 players plus staff to leave no doubt as to what he wanted to see.
“We definitely got some good quality work,” Judge said. “You value the opportunity in camp where you can work on sustained drives. You have to build in the football conditioning through playing football. We’ve done a lot of work with post-practice conditioning and trying to work through the drills to finish everything to build our endurance. Really, it comes through playing down-after-down with the right intensity and the right technique. Our guys really did that today to finish practice.”
Sean Spencer is like a knight tasked with slaying a fire-breathing dragon. Where’s the similarity?
The first-year defensive line coach is trying to succeed where so many others of his kind — position coaches and coordinators for the Jets and Giants — have failed: Namely, at unlocking the potential in Leonard Williams.
Williams, a first-round pick in 2015 and a Pro Bowler in 2016, has one of the lowest pressure-to-sack ratios in the NFL because he regularly gets into the backfield but is a step away from tackling the quarterback. Same old story with the Giants last season after a trade from the Jets, so there are plenty of skeptics reading this:
“I think he’s starting to put it all together,” Spencer said. “He’s always had the tools. He looks strong, powerful. We need to take him from being just this tremendous athlete to refining him as a football player, and I think he’s working towards that right now.”
The two Giants staffers who received false-positive COVID-19 tests as part of a league-wide rash of mistaken results from a New Jersey lab returned to work Monday. So did two other staffers isolated at home as part of contact tracing.
The Giants used a point-of-care test and a standard PCR test in a drive-by setting so as to not risk contaminating the daily testing trailer used by other members of the organization. All subsequent tests were negative.