EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The players were not in pads, the contact was limited and there was no tackling at all. That makes it hard to evaluate anyone, particularly a running back like Saquon Barkley.
Still, Pat Shurmur saw enough of his newest star in his first practice to conclude that he really likes what he sees.
"He's got real good awareness," Shurmur said on Saturday. "The first thing you see is he can catch the ball, certainly. He had a couple runs (Friday) that looked really good. Nobody was tackling, but the other thing that you see when you work with him is his awareness -- his spatial awareness, his ability to pick out who he has in pass protection. We purposely tried to have some blitz drills early to try to challenge the running backs, and I felt like he did a good job with that."
The blitz pickup is key because it's hard to play a running back in passing situations if he doesn't have that ability - no matter how good a weapon he may be for the passing game. The Giants were confident Barkley had that ability based on what they saw at college, and they were able to see at least a little bit of that ability over the weekend, too.
Still, it's his other skills that will make him the most valuable, and he flashed some of those, too. He caught almost everything thrown in his direction and he seemed to have a good burst of speed, especially when he cut to the outside and turned up field. He had one particular moment on Saturday when he was running a crossing route with a linebacker all over him. The quarterback led him with the throw and a second later he was three steps ahead of the linebacker and was gone.
Here are some more notes and observations for the Giants' weekend rookie camp:
- QB Kyle Lauletta seemed to struggle a bit both days, overthrowing several of his deep passes and missing his receivers on a few others. He was even intercepted several times, including twice on Saturday. Asked on Saturday morning about the performance of the fourth-rounder, Shurmur said "I thought he did a really good job". Lauletta, though, said his performance was "A little bit sloppy" on Friday. He chalked that up to it being his first NFL practice and the fact that it "was a little windy" outside. It wasn't all that windy on Saturday and Laultta wasn't much better.
- DE R.J. McIntosh, the Giants' fifth-round pick out of Miami, missed camp this weekend with what he and the team called a "minor medical condition." The 6-4, 286-pounder declined to elaborate, but he said he's receiving treatment and will "hopefully" be back soon. He added that he will be ready by the time the Giants' mandatory mini-camp starts in mid-June. McIntosh reportedly had been diagnosed with some sort of thyroid condition at the NFL scouting combine this year.
- Lorenzo Carter, the edge rusher the Giants took in Round 3, is a lover of classical music who plays the cello, the tuba, the baritone horn, and "dabbles" with other instruments, too. He began playing in fifth grade, though football took precedence in high school and college. He listens to Yo Yo Ma and 2Cellos, mostly to relax. And if nothing else, he's got an unusual act ready for the annual rookie show. "Oh, yeah, I forgot about that," Carter said. "Yeah, I'll bring a cello in here and get down for them."
- Adam Bisnowaty, the Giants' sixth-round pick out of Pittsburgh a year ago, was at this camp playing right guard. That's interesting since he started the season finale last year at right tackle and that seemed to be where the old regime wanted him to play. It's unclear if the position switch is permanent or just for this camp.
- Some Hog Mollies to keep an eye on: The first-team center this weekend was first-year guard Ethan Cooper (6-2, 347) and he was backed up by undrafted rookie Evan Brown (6-2, 302). The first-teamer at right tackle - where there could be a job open - was huge undrafted rookie Tyler Howell (6-8, 328). Nick Gates, a 6-5, 307-pound undrafted lineman out of Nebraska, was playing left guard.
- There doesn't appear to be any room for him on the training camp roster since the Giants already have four quarterbacks, but John O'Korn, a rookie out of Michigan seemed to have a strong performance while trying out over these two days. Meanwhile, Thomas Sirk, another tryout quarterback out of East Carolina (who is 6-3, 237), split his time at Saturday's practice working some as a quarterback and doing some drills as a tight end.