Giants practice disrupted by a string of fights
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) — With the New York Giants ramping up practices in the middle of a heat advisory days before their first preseason game, it was only a matter of time before tempers erupted.
In a span a four plays Monday, running back Saquon Barkley plowed over cornerback Aaron Robinson and linebacker Tae Crowder got into it with free agent running back Antonio Williams.
The main attraction was starting center Jon Feliciano seemingly kneeing Crowder on an ensuing play, an incident which emptied both sidelines onto the field.
Linebacker Cam Brown eventually grabbed the back of Feliciano’s jersey and dragged him out of a scrum of 50 players. The center then got on his feet and threw a haymaker at Brown that seemed to connect with his helmet. Brown tried to swing back but didn’t seem to connect.
Shortly after teammates separated the two, offensive line coach Bobby Johnson pushed Brown.
The incidents caused coach Brian Daboll to call the team together and he spoke for five minutes before practice resumed without incident.
Daboll did not speak to reporters on Monday. The team refused to take requests from reporters to speak with Feliciano, Brown, Barkley and Crowder.
“In practice, it’s tough not to be offensive versus defense against each other,” veteran safety Julian Love said. “And so you get some physicality. You got some younger coaches with guys who play the game, you know, the testosterone is high at times. And so it is what it is.”
Veteran linebacker Jihad Ward smiled and said he didn’t see much of what was happening, sarcastically saying he was looking at his playbook. He said most of the players were in the locker room giggling, laughing, playing music and chilling after practice.
“This ain’t nothing compared to just jawing small, man,” Ward said. “People outside are going to look at and say ‘Oh, it’s crazy. But you know, this ain’t nothing going on, we are going to laugh at it in the locker room.”
While some felt Barkley showed a little too much aggressiveness running over Robinson, Love had no problem with it.
“He’s you know, he’s Saquon Barkley, what, the No. 2 pick,” Love said. “He’s a guy who’s big, strong, we call them ‘Quads.’ And that’s the type of running we want.”
Love also had no problem with Crowder answering for the defense on the next play, when he went after the ball with Williams down. He said defensive coordinator Wink Martindale wants his players to stand up for each other.
“The intensity was raising as you guys saw,” Love said. “Something was bound to happen. And as long as we have each other’s back, we’re going to ride for each other, that all are the makings of a great defense.”
Having Feliciano throw a punch at a helmeted Brown was not the wisest move. The center could have broken his hand and New York, which plays the Patriots in New England on Thursday night, does not have depth at the position.
Johnson pushing Brown also was unexpected. It’s rare that a coach gets involved with a player during a team scrum.
Rookie tight end Daniel Bellinger said it was just hot.
“When it’s 95 degrees outside, stuff is going to happen, but it just showed a good physicality for us today,” the fourth-round draft pick from San Diego State said. “I think it was a good sign for us just going out there and being physical.”
Bellinger said Daboll didn’t mind the physicality of practice, telling the players losing teams are the ones that fight.
The Giants have done that for five straight seasons.
NOTES: Co-owner John Mara had a long conversation with inside linebacker Blake Martinez after practice. Martinez is coming off an ACL injury. … Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said new punter Jamie Gillan has been trying to improve his hang time. The standard is 4.0 seconds for a 40-yard punt, 4.5 for 45 and 5.0 for 50.