Thursday, August 5, 2010

Giants training camp notes, August 5, 2010

I spent Thursday morning at New York Giants training camp at the University at Albany. I caught up with newly signed free agent linebacker Keith Bulluck, who was familiar with the campus. I also snapped a few pictures with my video camera during the lunch-hour media availability session.

Check out full coverage of the Giants in Friday's edition of The Record.

ALBANY – The New York Giants may be Keith Bulluck's last stop in the National Football League, as the veteran linebacker, who is entering his 11th season, had anterior cruciate ligament surgery on his left knee seven months ago.

After a winter spent rehabilitating that knee for what might be his farewell tour in the NFL, Bulluck is getting a bit of a homecoming during training camp.

New York Giants linebacker Keith Bulluck stretches out during Thursday's evening practice at the University at Albany. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

Bulluck has spent plenty of time on the University at Albany campus before. His best friend from high school, Paul Williams, was a UAlbany student and Bulluck made frequent visits during his college days.

“I would come down when I got some time off at Syracuse and do the college thing on another campus,” Bulluck said. “We always used to say we wish we could go to every college campus in the country for two weeks each and sample them all out. But coming here was cool, we did a lot of things.”

Bulluck, who played college football at Syracuse University, had played for a decade with the Tennessee Titans and signed a one-year free agent contract with the Giants in late July.

Following the retirement of middle linebacker Antonio Pierce, Bulluck is expected to step in as a starter this season, although he's been slow to join the contact drills early in training camp.

“Of course I'm behind,” said the 33-year-old Bulluck. “They put the defense in in April and I just started Saturday night. I'm definitely way behind. These guys have had months on top of days to learn the defense and absorb and go out and apply it. I have to sometimes absorb it and apply it within the matter of an hour and a half. My 10 years of experience in the NFL is definitely coming into play a lot and my learning curve is pretty fast.”

Bulluck grew up about 20 minutes north of Giants Stadium, which certainly influenced his signing decision.

“That had a lot to do with it,” Bulluck said. “What also had a lot to do with it is that I feel the Giants are definitely a contender in the NFC East and the NFC overall. I told my agent way back when the process started in March, I only really want to entertain teams with a legitimate shot at a championship. The first two he came to me with were Arizona and New York. I took my time and visited both and New York was the best fit for me.”

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning stopped for questions before getting a bite to eat after Thursday's morning practice session.

Bulluck figures to fit in well with first-year defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, who has displayed a great deal of intensity in practices by vocally encouraging players after every single play in team scrimmage drills.

“I have a lot of fun. I love playing this game,” said Bulluck. “As you guys will see, I have tons of fun on the field, but when it's time to be serious, it's time to be serious. Joking only gets you so far.

“I'll be out there this afternoon. Full pads,” he continued. “Don't miss it. Don't miss it! I won't be hard to miss me out there, trust me.”

New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin endured the "longest press conference ever" following Thursday's morning session at the University at Albany.

Bulluck said he had learned a great deal about leadership from former Titans players such as Eddie George, Steve McNair, Samari Rolle and Frank Wycheck. Although he's the new guy in Albany this summer, Bulluck feels it is his duty to pass that experience on to the next generation of NFL players.

“I have my own style, but I definitely have watched the guys that I've been around,” said Bulluck. “They showed me the way into this league. And with all the knowledge that I have, I have to share it with the guys here.”

Big Blue Notes

ALBANY – The backup quarterback might be the most popular guy in town, but that certainly isn’t true so far at New York Giants training camp, especially since Eli Manning isn’t sure who will serve as his primary understudy.

Thursday was another frustrating day for Jim Sorgi and Rhett Bomar, the signal-callers battling for the No. 2 spot.

During a full offense-on-defense scrimmage session in the morning's practice at the University at Albany, a pass by Sorgi was nearly intercepted by D.J. Johnson on an underneath route as the crowd collectively - and audibly – gasped.

On the very next play, on a deep route down the right sideline, Sorgi's pass was intercepted by Antrel Rolle.
Not long after that, the offense lined up in the wrong formation, causing offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride to scream, "one slot wide!" and the group went back to the huddle.

Later in the practice, Sorgi fumbled a snap and a pass thrown by Bomar was tipped over the middle and was intercepted by Seth Williams. Bomar caused a false start toward the end of the morning session by attempting to backpedal away from the center before the ball was snapped.

Sorgi, 29, spent the past six seasons as Peyton Manning's backup in Indianapolis. Bomar, 25, was signed by the Giants as a free agent out of Sam Houston State last season and spent 2009 as the No. 3 quarterback behind David Carr. Carr was not resigned in the offseason.

The duo looked better in the evening session, but a pair of nifty catches by wide receiver Derek Hagan – the highlights of the late practice - took the heat off the quarterbacks.

Musical chairs on offensive line
Center Sean O'Hara is still away from practice after injuring his left ankle Tuesday afternoon. He is in New York undergoing tests.

"We hope to get him Monday," head coach Tom Coughlin said.

New York Giants offensive lineman (Kareem McKenzie, Adam Koets and Chris Snee (left to right)) scope out the scene during Thursday's evening practice at the University at Albany. (Photo by J.S. Carras - The Record).

In the meantime, the Giants are using a number of different configurations on the front line. Rich Seubert and Adam Koets have split time at center, with regular left tackle David Diehl sliding down to left guard. Will Beatty played most of the snaps with the first unit at left tackle in the morning session.

Kareem McKenzie (right tackle) and Chris Snee (right guard) have stuck with their normal positions on the line.

Eli speaks and Snee mocks
Eli Manning took to the podium to address the media before eating lunch and right guard Chris Snee joined the pack of reporters for a minute to mock his quarterback.

"Do you see that guy? He’s unstoppable," said Snee, referring to Manning’s endorsement tagline with a watch company.

A reporter then asked Manning about his offensive line.

"Everybody’s good. The offensive line is great," said Manning, glancing at Snee.

"Thanks, Eli!" Snee replied.

Nicks returns in the evening
Second-year wide receiver Hakeem Nicks returned to practice in full pads Thursday evening. He hyperextended his right knee Tuesday evening and missed the Wednesday and Thursday morning sessions, receiving a pair of MRIs in New York.

"No, I didn’t think that there was anything wrong with it but it was something I wanted to get checked out," Nicks said. "For that slight second I felt a little something, but I felt like I was fine and I was relieved when the results came back."

New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks is expected to rejoin the team shortly after hyperextending his right knee during Tuesday's practice.

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