EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Welcome to the Ben McAdoo era.
Giants running back Shane Vereen said he feels like he's in "the same regime," though plenty has changed under the Giants' new head coach. The differences might be subtle for fans dropping by during the open practice sessions, but practice has a night-and-day feel from 2015, especially with an ornery 39-year-old coach patrolling the sidelines. We'll get deeper into that momentarily, but first, a few other observations.
1. McAdoo said he didn't notice anything concerning about Victor Cruz. The Giants had their first padded practice of the season and Cruz had some of his most significant on-field work of the summer on Tuesday. Cruz rotated in with first-string receivers, though it looks like he has a ways to go in this second comeback attempt. Going back to my notes from the beginning of last year's camp, there was a definite snap to his routes and that breezy quickness was still evident. We might have caught him on a bad day, but everything seems a bit more arduous for Cruz this time around -- and who can blame him? Cruz is coming off a torn patellar tendon in 2014 and calf surgery in 2015. He's relentlessly pushing to become the receiver he once was -- just ask any of his teammates, trainers or workout partners. Is it possible? Time will tell.
2. Snacks is back. The Giants took defensive tackle Damon Harrison off the PUP list on Tuesday and turned him loose in what Harrison would later call his first healthy practice in more than two years. Harrison signed a five-year, $46.25 million deal this offseason, and the Giants are betting that he can flawlessly transition from one of the best 3-4 nose tackles in football to a majority-down 4-3 tackle. From what we saw on Tuesday, that is more than possible. Harrison's initial push is still one of the most devastating in football. His pocket-bending ability demanded several double-teams on Tuesday but his awareness is getting better with age. Harrison, who has spent part of the offseason grilling Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon about their pass-rushing habits so he can move the pocket accordingly. There's a strong sense that Harrison is the linchpin holding this team's hopes together on defense.
3. McAdoo doesn't sweat the details. There was certainly not a drop off in intensity between Tom Coughlin and McAdoo. The former offensive coordinator is in everyone's business and makes practice look like an aerobic exercise. McAdoo's practices are split up into periods that are announced by a robotic, almost Hunger Games-esque dystopian voice from the loudspeaker. He also installs TV timeouts throughout practice that serve as a break but also as a roving instructional session to correct errors from the previous drills. McAdoo plays classic TV theme songs during the breaks because, well, you get it. Music is also blaring throughout practice, which is a welcome change from a Coughlin regime that did it sparingly.
4. Don't sleep on the tight ends. The Mike McCarthy offense is kind to players who can be "cross-trained" at multiple positions and Giants tight end Will Tye is everywhere. McAdoo prefers a tight end that can take on fullback responsibilities in order to run more formations out of his muddle huddle offense. Alongside Matt LaCosse, Larry Donnell and sixth-round pick Jerell Adams, Tye may lead one of the most sneaky-deep tight end depth charts in the league.
5. Running back reps are at a premium. The Giants are crowded, though not necessarily loaded, at running back. Shane Vereen figures to be the team's most productive back even if Rashad Jennings will keep his job on first and second downs, though that might be the least of the Giants' worries. The team also has former fourth-round pick Andre Williams and 2016 fifth-round pick Paul Perkins making a push. Return specialist and receiving back Bobby Rainey is also on the roster. With limitations on practice time, it will take a comprehensive job by this coaching staff to sift out the final roster. McAdoo hinted that the first few preseason games will end up making a difference, but don't be surprised if running back-needy teams are keeping an eye on this developing situation as we approach first cuts.