The first fortnight of New York Giants training camp is just about complete, and the excitement in Albany, New York is palpable.
So far the Giants have avoided the devastating injuries that marred their 2011 preseason and, as is often the case, training camp has been full of surprises.
The Giants, perhaps the best drafting team in the league, are stocked with promising rookies mixed in with a bevy of new talent imported via trade and free agency.
It's a combination that should bode well for the Giants as they look to repeat as Super Bowl champs.
But that's a long way off.
For now, let's just hand out rookie grades for the first two weeks in camp.
With deep competition at the receiver position, Douglas needed to stand out in camp for a shot on the roster, and he is doing just that.
The Giants expect to keep six receivers this year, and there are basically two slots remaining. With Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz at the top, Rueben Randle and Jernel Jernigan are just about locks, too. So, that leaves five guys aiming for two open spots.
So far, it seems, Douglas has done a good job separating himself in that group, showing his athleticism, good hands, toughness and ability to get separation off the line.
Head Coach Tom Coughlin praised Douglas, saying he, “has had a heck of a preseason” thus far and was one hell of a hard worker.
Coughlin also told The New York Post that Douglas has done very well in camp.
“There’s a lot of roles. I’d like to see him as a kick returner, as a gunner and all that kind of stuff …. he’s made some plays, for sure,” Coughlin told The Post.
For his part, Douglas says the competition on the field—and the knowledge shared on the sidelines from the more experienced wide-outs—is making him better.
“There’s a ton of great receivers on this team. What I’m trying to do right now is just learn from them and give them my all and do my best,” Douglas told The Troy Record earlier this week.
Robinson has had a rough camp, with several drops and some trouble getting separation at the line.
The former is something he needs to overcome for a real shot at the opening day roster, but the latter is a common issue for rookies facing the bump and run of the NFL for the first time.
Still, Giants brass remain high on the rookie who was the team's fourth-round pick. Giants General Manager Jerry Reese went so far as to call Robinson “the JPP of tight ends.”
“It’s not like me to miss those passes,” Robinson told reporters at University at Albany, the Giants camp. “I think it’s a little bit of the rookie jitters, but that’s no excuse.”
Robinson will certainly benefit from having a coach of Pope’s caliber by his side, as Rantsports.com’s Louis Musto wrote earlier this week.
With Pope’s help and some heavy studying, Robinson could evolve into a viable contributor by season’s end. And if he really is the “JPP of tight ends” as Giants general manager Jerry Reese put it, he will be a dominating force at the tight end position from day one of his second season in New York. — Louis Musto, Rantsports.com
Robinson has time to shake off a slow start, and competition at the tight end position is not as tough as at receiver, so he still has a fair shot.
Cornerback Hosley, the third-round pick out of Virginia Tech, is making a move in camp after gashing his knee early and missing several days.
And the Giants have great optimism that this year's secondary will be light years better than the 2011 crop.
Indeed, Giants cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta told Giants.com that Hosley continues to impress.
He’s done a very good job, he’s learned the defense, did a good job in the mini-camps and the OTAs, done a good job of picking up the nickel spot was well as the corner spot. It's just a question of playing where you can’t bang the guys five yards sown the field and playing against great receivers and great quarterbacks every down. — Peter Giunta, Giants cornerbacks coach
Hosley said as much to The Bergen Record earlier this week:
"You're definitely going against the quicker guys [Cruz in particular] who can take you anywhere, spin you in circles and throw you away … you definitely have to have that quickness and know the game,” Hosley told The Record.
Hosley seems on target to make to make the club, and depending on how healthy Terrell Thomas turns out to be, he could make an impact.
Like he did in college, Randle is quietly putting together a solid if not spectacular camp.
Randle has not garnered much attention in early reports from camp while other lesser talents have been creating all kinds of buzz.
But those other guys are often playing against the No. 2 and No. 3 defenses while Randle has almost exclusively lined up against the Giants' first-team defense.
Another quiet but solid Giant, Eli Manning, had this to say about Randle’s first two weeks of camp:
"I think Reuben has done a good job. I think he has a pretty good understanding of what is going on with the offense, after such a short time of being here. You see some skill set in his route running, some speed, a toughness also, being physical in his routes, getting open. You see the potential." — Eli Manning, Giants Quarterback
But Giants first-year receivers coach Kevin Gilbride is tepid in his report on Randle:
“All I know is that he needs to develop. He’s shown some flashes of great things in training camp so far but also is very inconsistent with his knowledge of our offense and how we’re trying to execute our offense,” Gilbride told Michael Eisen of Giants.com.
Randle has all the skills necessary to be a solid NFL starter and is all but a lock to battle for the No. 3 or 4 spot, but a better camp would have put the Giants coaching staff more at ease.
The Giants foresee big things from Wilson, but not necessarily out of the gate.
Wilson has shown flashes of the brilliance the Giants expected for their No. 1 pick—wowing them with his ability to turn on a dime, his sharp cuts and his low-to-the-ground running style.
But he is not without weaknesses.
Wilson continues to have trouble running between tackles and does not set up blocks well. And earlier this week incumbent starter Ahmad Bradshaw told the New York Daily News that Wilson is risking injury with his aggressive approach.
“He kind of does his own thing, juking and doing a lot of things, putting a lot of torque on his ankles and knees and different things. We’re trying to teach him how to be a professional and just hold back on some of those things.” — Ahmad Bradshaw, Giants Running Back
But Wilson certainly can take a hit, according to Ed Valentine of Big Blue Review, reporting from Albany, New York this week.
Valentine said linebacker Greg Jones put a few solid licks on Wilson in Tuesday’s camp, “collisions that would have been really violent if Jones had actually been allowed to tackle the rookie running back.”
Giants brass say Wilson's potential is unlimited, and he looks like a solid longtime investment. But don't be surprised if he sees limited reps throughout camp and limited carries in the first few weeks of the season.
His ability to endure a heavy workload, at barely 200 pounds, is a big question.