The Giants’ first-round pick Jason Pierre-Paul had to battle through the morning practice on Saturday.
On the second day of minicamp, the rookie fought through a lower back issue which he says he deals with every offseason once he gets back into football shape. Pierre-Paul said he feels a "pinching" pain in his lower back when he goes into a three-point stance and it usually takes "four days to a week" to go away. He said he does not know why this pain comes up during the offseason but he said he has never felt it during the season or in games.
He had his lower back treated multiples times Saturday morning. While he labored through drills, Pierre-Paul, to his credit, did not miss any reps.
“I think he is going through the conditioning aspect of this,” head coach Tom Coughlin said. “He is suffering a little but he is hanging in there.”
With temperatures soaring into the high 80’s, Pierre-Paul could be seen stretching often and holding his back in between drills. There’s still another practice later today and Pierre-Paul expects to go through it.
“Like a lot of them, they are suffering a little bit because it has been hotter than it’s been and they had two yesterday and had time to cramp up and get sore and then come back this morning and have to do it again,” Coughlin said. “I wish he was running around like perhaps I had thought that he would be but he learns, he learns every time he gets out there.”
Pierre-Paul wasn’t the only rookie draft pick to struggle with conditioning.
Coughlin didn’t sound pleased with safety Chad Jones’ weight. The third-round pick out of LSU is listed at 6-2, 221-pounds.
“I think he is a little heavy and he’s got some conditioning work to do,” Coughlin said. “He makes some mental errors which is not surprising for anybody back there. He was down quite a bit this morning weight-wise. He lost a lot of water weight in just one day. He will be very cognizant of the weight and conditioning aspect when he comes back.”
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Coughlin gave positive reviews for rookie middle linebacker Phillip Dillard and defensive tackle Linval Joseph.
Dillard has held his own at middle linebacker and has been vocal in getting defensive calls made.
“He seems to be doing well,” Coughlin said after the first session of the day. “He flashes. He seems to be enjoying himself, is flying around, he is in good shape.”
As for how Dillard is doing directing the defense - something he loves doing - the head coach said, “He is doing OK with that but right now he has got enough on his plate to call the defense and get himself lined up.”
The 6-4, 319-pound Joseph came into camp in good shape and has shown athleticism and agility. While it’s still early, defensive coordinator Perry Fewell pointed Joseph out as somebody who can help the Giants defense get back to playing physical again.
“He is a big load that can run, he is athletic, has got a good attitude,” Coughlin said. “He fought his way through. He was struggling a little bit yesterday afternoon as well but fought his way through that. He seemed to do well this morning. Had enough energy to be able to talk up the other guys when it looked like they were dragging.”
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As for the guys who are in camp that weren’t drafted, Coughlin praised Richmond rookie cornerback Seth Williams for a second consecutive day, noting that Williams made another “nice play” on Saturday. On Friday, Coughlin singled out Rutgers WR Tim Brown as a player who stood out.
When asked if he saw anybody jump out at him on the tape from Friday’s practices, Coughlin replied, “Not really.”
The head coach was also asked about veteran running backs DeShawn Wynn and Tony Hunt, who are here as well.
“I don’t know,” Coughlin said. “They’ve worked hard. They are trying their best. I haven’t seen a lot of flashes.”