The New York Giants took the field for their first practice of training camp on Wednesday and did so in front of fans for the first time since 2019.
The sun was shining, the music was playing and the excitement of football was very much in the air. And that excitement grew throughout practice as the Giants seemed far more functional — especially offensively — than they were a year ago.
General manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll kicked things off with a combined press conference which shed the light on a number of topics.
Here are 10 things we learned from the pressers and practice.
Toney is healthy, and he showed it
AP Photo/Bill Kostroun
Schoen and Daboll praised Kadarius Toney for his work ethic this offseason, specifically mentioning his time in the meeting rooms. They also declared him fully healthy after offseason ankle surgery.
On the field, Toney made an immediate impact.
A thing of beauty.
Ducking Daniel Jones questions?
Schoen and Daboll were pressed on what they expect to see and what they need to see from quarterback Daniel Jones in 2022, but they rebuffed the questions.
Rather than putting a specific milestone on Jones’ season, the GM-coach duo simply stated there needs to be continuity in order to fairly evaluate Jones. That’s obviously been an issue in recent years and precisely why the Giants were extra cautious this spring with the offensive linemen and wide receivers.
Jones was on fire
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Let’s get this out of the way quickly: Jones tossed a couple of picks in red zone drills. One of them (snagged by a diving Darnay Holmes) was particularly ugly.
But Jones’ interceptions were completely overshadowed by how good he looked otherwise. His passes were crisp and even appeared to have a little extra mustard on them.
Some of Jones’ passes that stood out were touchdowns to the aforementioned Toney, rookie Wan’Dale Robinson and Saquon Barkley. He also took a designed quarterback draw in for a touchdown nearly untouched.
Cor’Dale Flott, ladies and gentlemen
AP Photo/Seth Wenig
Perhaps no one had a better first practice than rookie third-round pick Cor’Dale Flott.
The selection of Flott in April’s draft drew a lot of criticism with many believing he was “over-drafted.” However, if his performance on Wednesday is any indication, the Giants may have gotten a steal.
Rookie DB Cordale Flott made two praise-worthy plays in coverage in the end zone today.
Had a deflection in traffic early in red zone drills. Then showed his IQ by shoving Robert Foster out of bounds while he was mid-air when he caught the ball. #Giants
— Art Stapleton (@art_stapleton) July 27, 2022
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The Giants hardly used any pre-snap motion under former head coach Joe Judge and offensive coordinator Jason Garrett. It was an ultra conservative approach to a modernized NFL… And it failed miserably.
That will not be the case under Daboll and current offensive coordinator Mike Kafka. And that was evident on Wednesday.
Injured players looked healthy
AP Photo/Adam Hunger
Schoen and Daboll started the day by saying all players not on PUP or NFI were healthy and good to go. That included wide receiver Sterling Shepard, linebacker Blake Martinez and cornerback Rodarius Williams.
Practices proved those words correct.
No director of college scouting
Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports
After firing Chris Pettit earlier this year, the Giants conducted several interviews to fill the void at their director of college scouting position.
No hires were made.
Schoen says the Giants will go without filling the position this season, entrusting Dennis Hickey with some of the duties.
Daniel Bellinger off of PUP
AP Photo/Seth Wenig
The Giants started the day with more positive injury news: rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger passed his physical and was activated from the PUP list.
Given that the Giants are somewhat thin at tight end and Bellinger had a strong spring, they were more than thrilled to welcome him back.
Don’t sleep on veteran Rickey Seals-Jones, though. He scored himself a touchdown on Wednesday.
Fans are back, baby
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
As noted earlier, the Giants welcomed fans back for the first time since 2019. They filled the bleachers and were into it for the full 90 minutes.
After practice ended, Saquon Barkley made sure to go show his love and appreciation.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
One glaringly obvious change during practice was the presence of Guardian caps, which are designed to help prevent against concussions.
Schoen and Daboll have placed an emphasis on limiting the team’s injuries this year and this was the first obvious step in that direction (at least that can be seen with the naked eye).