EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -- The Giants held their longest, most physical practice of training camp on Saturday. It was, as head coach Ben McAdoo said, "a big moment."
"It was a heavy hitting physical practice and we had a lot of explosive movements in tight quarters," McAdoo said. "I think we had 42 plays in the red and the green zone today. Some team, some 9 on 7 with the big guys and some 7 on 7, but a lot of contact and a lot of physicality and we got through it. We checked the box and it wasn't as good as it could be, but we did check the box and it will be the starting point for a good foundation."
On Monday, after a day to rest and recover, the Giants will begin to build on that foundation and prepare for their preseason opener -- and McAdoo's head coaching debut -- against the Miami Dolphins at the Meadowlands on Friday night. The Monday practice figures to be shorter and a little lighter.
Here's what I'll be watching when it starts:
1.) Is Eli Apple beginning to make his move for playing time?
By all accounts, the Giants' first-round pick had his finest practice of camp on Saturday. McAdoo said he played very "physical," and his performance was "exciting to see." It will be interesting to see where he goes from here since it's rarely a straight line up for rookies. It's even more interesting in Apple's case, though, since it remains hard to see where he can squeeze into the lineup.
He has been getting a lot of first-team reps, but unless the Giants go to a cornerback rotation, he's still blocked on the outside by Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. And since he's not playing the slot in camp, his only hope of playing in the nickel is if the Giants move DRC inside in those sets instead of just going with the newly signed Leon Hall. So who knows what will happen? But if Apple continues to shine, they'll have to find a place for him somewhere.
2.) With the first game approaching, is anything stabilizing at safety or middle linebacker?
There are wide open competitions at both spots, but it's even more wide open at middle linebacker, where so many guys have rotated in it's been hard to keep track. The assumption is that either Keenan Robinson or Jasper Brinkley will win that job, and that's probably true, but it's not set yet. Meanwhile at safety, rookie Darian Thompson appears to be the leader at the first turn to play next to Landon Collins. But nothing is set there, either.
3.) How is everybody feeling?
It's a good question after the longest, most physical practice of camp -- a practice that included Odell Beckham, Jr. (lower leg) and Victor Cruz (ankle/knee). Near as we can tell -- which isn't easy since McAdoo is actually less forthcoming about injuries than Tom Coughlin was in recent years -- the only injury issues are with the two remaining PUPies. And there has been no indication that LB J.T. Thomas (hamstring) or DT Jay Bromley (ankle) are close to returning.