It will be all-systems-go Wednesday morning as the Giants hit the field for the first time. The heat wave that brought 100-degree temperatures has come and gone, but there is sure to be plenty of heat and humidity to challenge the players this training camp as the summer heads toward August.
There are always benchmarks and highlights during the course of camp. Here are five moments that we look forward to viewing and analyzing:
Pads in full
The first few practices often look no different than what transpired during the spring work — very little contact of any kind. The ramp-up happens quickly, and the full-pads sessions will be here by the first weekend of camp.
This is always an adjustment — believe it or not, players always talk about how awkward the pads feel, at first — and a rise in intensity is readily apparent once the activity begins to resemble real football. The first full-pad workout will give us the best indication yet if the revamped offensive line is actually as improved as the new front office and coaching staff believes it to be.
There will not be any live hitting or sacking of the quarterback, but there will be physical combat at the line of scrimmage once the pads come on. Given defensive coordinator Wink Martindale’s penchant for bringing constant pressure and his zeal to establish a bully defense, the first days in pads could be a rude awakening for the new-look offensive line.
We already have some clarity with inside linebacker Blake Martinez and wide receiver Sterling Shepard, two of the most prominent veterans on the team, both coming off serious injuries.
These two well-respected players spent the entire offseason rehabbing from major surgeries — an ACL for Martinez, a ruptured Achilles tendon for Shepard — and both are itching to get back into the swing of things.
Martinez’s injury occurred nearly three months earlier and so he is ahead of Shepard, and it is a fantastic sign for Martinez that he is deemed ready to roll for camp. Not so with Shepard, who starts camp on the Physically Unable to Perform List. The training staff will make sure not to overextend Martinez. The defense needs what he adds to the center of the operation.
Follow the leaders
From year-to-year, every team is a new team and a different team, despite all the holdovers from one year to the next. Players who filled one role in the past might now be called on to assume a greater (or lesser) role. Where will the new team leaders emerge?
Xavier McKinney and Julian Love, the starting safeties, figure to make their claims early this summer, no longer existing in the shadow of Logan Ryan, a real front-and-center guy, now with the Buccaneers.
Up front on defense, newly signed Jihad Ward has an uplifting personality; does he have the game to match that personality and serve as a torch-bearer, which Leonard Williams prefers not to do? Does Saquon Barkley, healthy, at last, take on a more vocal role?
The offensive line is being built around first-round tackles Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal but they are more do-as-I-do youngsters.
Does one of the veteran newcomers on the line, Mark Glowinski or Jon Feliciano, use this camp to take charge of their group?
First time for everything
A preseason opener is a needed break from the monotony of the regular camp routine and a necessary proving ground for young players trying to claw their way into roster spots. Otherwise, there is not much to love about these exhibition games.
The Aug. 11 game against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium marks not “a’’ debut, but “the” debut for Brian Daboll, who has never before been a head coach, at any level. Will anyone remember if Daboll wins this first preseason game? Unlikely.
It will be the first time Daboll gets an entire team ready to play, though, and it will be a useful evening, allowing Daboll to grow more comfortable commanding his team from the sideline and all that goes into managing the 60 minutes.
The big question: Does Daboll call the plays on offense or cede this responsibility to Mike Kafka, his offensive coordinator?
We’re talking ’bout practice
A Fan Fest and scrimmage the night of Aug. 5 at MetLife Stadium is sure to attract thousands of fans. Last year, nearly 30,000 assembled and watched Joe Judge put his team through a padded practice that lasted nearly two hours.
The last practice open to the public is Aug. 14. The most interesting day of the summer might be what takes place Aug. 25, when the Jets arrive for a joint practice held at the Giants’ facility. The starters will get limited reps in the preseason games but will receive plenty of work in this joint practice.
This is not close to Subway Series level intrigue yet there will be more on the line than the usual joint workouts with just another team. Players will downplay this all week and then get after it once the practice gets underway.