Giants training camp observations, Day 7: Daniel Jones looks sharp, Brian Daboll scolds Saquon Barkley, Jon Feliciano returns, more

UPDATE: Late Wednesday afternoon, the Giants announced that backup offensive tackle Matt Gono has left the team. The Giants placed Gono on the exempt/left squad list, clearing a roster spot. Gono, a fifth-year pro, has played in 21 career games — all from 2019-20 in Atlanta — with four starts. His departure leaves the Giants with plenty of tackle depth issues, as we note below. Gono played his high school ball at Cinnaminson in Burlington County. At this point, it does not appear as though Gono, 26, intends to retire. For now, he has just left the team. He signed a one-year contract with the Giants in March, after the Falcons cut him earlier this offseason.

Brian Daboll has preached patience regarding his Giants offense and fourth-year quarterback Daniel Jones during this training camp.

And over the past two days, the offense and Jones showed a lot more, after mostly sputtering through the first five practices.

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Though the Giants focused a lot on running the ball — and first- and second-down situations — during Wednesday’s practice, Jones was able to put together a second straight good showing.

Wednesday was the Giants’ seventh practice of this training camp — and their second in pads, following Monday’s session. So it’s too early to read too much into any of this, good or bad. But Jones’ play over the past two days is certainly a positive development.

The Giants’ next publicly open practice is Friday, when they’ll hold an intra-squad scrimmage at MetLife Stadium from 6:15-8:30 pm They’re off Saturday.

Now, let’s get to our Day 7 observations.

(Our previous observations: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, and Day 6.)

• The offense and Daniel Jones. Not as many passes as usual for Jones, who entered Wednesday 65-of-105 passing (62% completions) in this camp, with five interceptions in six practices.

But Jones did have promising numbers Wednesday — 9-of-10 passing with no picks.

Daboll isn’t always bothered when Jones throws interceptions during practice, as long as he’s being aggressive. Daboll would rather have Jones use that approach than be overly cautious. Ultimately, though, Daboll prefers for Jones to play aggressively other have no interceptions.

On Wednesday, Jones’ only incomplete pass was a Wan’Dale Robinson drop. Robinson mostly has done well in this camp. But in this case a short pass hit him right in the hands, and he couldn’t hang on, as Darnay Holmes was bearing down on him.

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Jones’ best sequence Wednesday came in a period during which the Giants moved the ball down the field. Jones went 6-of-6 and capped the drive with a swing route completion to Saquon Barkley, who ran in for a touchdown. Jones was crisp throughout the drive, but his best throw came on the first play — a 30-yard sideline strike to Kenny Golladay, who got both feet in.

Golladay was a full participant Wednesday after getting a planned rest day Tuesday. Golladay performed well Wednesday, with three catches, after getting off to a shaky start in this camp. Meanwhile, Kadarius Toney got a partial rest day, as the Giants manage his reps, since he’s coming off minor knee surgery.

• Brian Daboll scolds Saquon Barkley. Nothing too major here, but it’s notable, especially considering the Giants’ previous coaching regime.

Daboll isn’t a screamer or obvious, hard-line disciplinarian like Joe Judge was. Different strokes for different Bill Belichick disciples, if you will. But Daboll wasn’t shy Wednesday about calling out Barkley for a mistake. And Daboll did it in front of the entire team. Barkley didn’t seem to mind.

It’s worth noting that Barkley, a savvy veteran, doesn’t screw up all that often in practice. But in this case, he ran right on a pitch play when he should’ve run left. Daboll raised his voice so everyone could hear, called Barkley by his number, and told him wake up. He then directed the offense to run the play again. This time, Barkley ran in the correct direction, and everyone moved on from there, with no further loud scolding from Daboll throughout the rest of the practice.

• Jon Feliciano returns, offensive line depth still an issue. Feliciano was back at the center spot with the first-string offense after a heat/dehydration issue sidelined him for the past four practices. Feliciano initially dealt with the issue after Thursday’s Day 2 practice.

But Daboll said before practice that he would ease Feliciano back in. So while he got the initial first-team reps, Daboll also worked Jamil Douglas as the first-team center. Feliciano participated in about half of Wednesday’s practice.

Meanwhile, Daboll is dealing with some significant depth issues at tackle behind Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal right now. Just before camp, the Giants cut Korey Cunningham, who got hurt. And now, another backup is injured — Matt Gono. Not ideal. He missed Wednesday’s practice, along with Antonio Williams, Ricky Seals-Jones, Robert Foster, and Rodarius Williams.

The second-string offensive line Wednesday, from left to right: Joshua Ezeudu, Ben Bredeson, Douglas (when he wasn’t with the starters), Max Garcia, and Marcus McKethan. Two rookies at tackle in this alignment. (Bredeson can also perhaps provide depth at center, by the way.)

The third-string line: Roy Mbaeteka, Devery Hamilton, Garrett McGhin, Josh Rivas, and Bredeson. Garcia and Ezeudu also got some right tackle work with the third team. So clearly, Daboll is tinkering with a few different things, as he tries to create tackle depth. Ideally, he would not have a rookie like Ezeudu be a swing guard/tackle backup. Better to have him focus on one spot.

• Daboll on receivers freelancing. The Giants’ wide receivers have talked a lot during this training camp about one of the reasons why they love Daboll’s offense: It gives them freedom to freelance and make route-running decisions more than Jason Garrett’s system did.

In short, Garrett used a rigid offense that called for receivers to run routes exactly as they were drawn up. And Daboll’s offense is a bit looser in this regard.

Of course, poor execution — and players just flat-out not being talented enough — factored into the Giants’ offensive struggles under Garrett just as much as his lack of creativity and rigidity did. Both things can be true. Don’t forget that part of the equation as the Giants proceed under Daboll.

Anyway, before Wednesday’s practice, Daboll was asked about receivers freelancing (to put it in simple terms). And he offered a good explanation of how that all works in his offense.

“There’s obviously different route concepts and combinations,” he said. “Some adjustments are standard adjustments. I’d say most teams do them. Other routes that we have, you can do a lot of different things.”

This requires excellent communication between quarterback and pass catcher (receiver/running back/tight end), Daboll said.

“The body language for a receiver is really critical for a quarterback,” Daboll said. “When there’s a wiggle room [in the route concept]the skill player really has a responsibility to see it like the quarterback [sees it].”

Daboll explained that the quarterback always sees the defensive alignment through a wide lens, while a pass catcher can often take a narrower perspective, just on his area of ​​the field, as he examines the defense. But in the case of an adjusted route, the pass catcher must widen his perspective. He must see things like a quarterback.

“So that’s a work in progress with the guys that we have, making sure that they’re doing things the way the quarterback sees it,” Daboll said. “That’s why the communication in the meeting room is so important.”

Daboll made it clear that these route adjustments aren’t major, wholesale changes to the way the play is designed. A receiver isn’t allowed to just completely change the route whenever he wants. The adjustments are more minor than that. And they happen based on what quarterback and pass catcher see both before other after the snap, Daboll said.

“You’ve got to get a look at what the defense is doing,” Daboll said. “Some defenses disguise a lot. Some others don’t. Is it man [coverage]? Is it zone? There’s a lot of things. That’s why I keep saying we place a premium on intelligent players. You’ve got to be smart as a receiver in our offense.”

Interesting stuff there.

• How will Friday’s scrimmage look? OK, so what can you expect if you’re attending Friday night’s scrimmage at MetLife Stadium?

Some of that — though not all of it — will be determined Thursday, when the Giants will have a walk-through practice, which is closed to reporters and fans.

It sounds like there will be quite a bit of offense versus defense action Friday night, though perhaps not much along the lines of a true, split-squad scrimmage.

“Right now, the way that I have it is we’ll all be on the same sideline,” Daboll said. “The coaches that will be up in the box for the first preseason game will go upstairs in the box.”

So there will be some game-like elements to Friday night.

As for whether Daboll’s coordinators — Mike Kafka (offense) and Wink Martindale (defense) — will be on the field or in the booth, Daboll said they’ll both be on the field Friday. He hasn’t made a determination for how that will unfold during real (or even preseason) games.

“We’ll see how Friday goes,” Daboll said.

Oh, and he’s also still officially taking a wait-and-see approach on whether he or Kafka will call offensive plays during games. Kafka did it throughout spring practices and has continued that role during training camp practices. So it would be a bit of a surprise if he didn’t do it in Week 1.

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Darryl Slater may be reached at dslater@njadvancemedia.com.

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