Giants minicamp ends with near disastrous scuffle
East Rutherford, N.J. — Pat Shurmur’s first minicamp with the New York Giants nearly had an ugly ending when high-priced left tackle Nate Solder tweaked a knee after being bumped during a helmet-swinging scuffle between defensive tackle Damon Harrison and rookie guard Will Hernandez.
Solder, who signed a four-year, $62 million contract in March, walked away from the fight on the third and final day of the minicamp on Thursday and sat on the grass after Harrison and Hernandez were separated.
Head trainer Ronnie Barnes examined Solder, and the former Patriot got up and tested the knee that seemed to be bumped by Hernandez during the altercation with Harrison.
Solder and Shurmur later said it was OK, but it could have been a lot worse. Coming off a 3-13 season, the Giants can’t afford to have their highest-priced free agent hurt in a minicamp where players are practicing in shorts and no pads.
Both players were taken out of the drills, and Shurmur talked to the 29-year-old Harrison, who swung Hernandez’s helmet at the rookie after a running play.
“It has been very competitive the whole camp,” Shurmur said. “There are certain things we certainly can’t do. We got it settled down. When scuffles break like that, in that situation, we just take them out of the practice and let them cool off.”
Shurmur said helmet swinging bothered him. Hernandez wasn’t shy, either. He threw punches at Harrison.
“Snacks is a very competitive guy and Will Hernandez is very competitive out there,” Shurmur said. “They just kind of butted heads.”
Solder downplayed the scuffle, saying he was fine.
Neither Harrison nor Hernandez was available after practice to talk about the incident.
“We just have to focus on getting better, we have to play better football, we have to be a strong unit on the offensive line, and we have to do what we can control,” said Solder, who protected the blind side of Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady for seven years before signing with New York. “Those things are battles, they happen, emotions rise, and you work through it and move on.”
Giants players will be on their own until the end of July, when training camp opens.
“We’ve talked to them about all the work that we’ve done to this point, and with five weeks to go, it’s not time off, it’s time away,” Shurmur said. “So, to continue with their preparation, we’re always talking to them about being a good citizen, and we say New York Giants pride for a reason. So, be very smart. Be good husbands, good fathers and be good citizens.”
Shurmur said that rookies, quarterbacks and selected veterans will report to training camp on July 22. The rest of the team will arrive later in that week.
Shurmur, who replaced the fired Ben McAdoo, also re-confirmed that the Giants will practice with the Lions for a couple of days before their preseason game on Aug. 17 in Detroit.
• The biggest surprise of training camp might have been third-round draft pick B.J. Hill getting most of the first-team reps on the defensive line with Harrison and second-year tackle Dalvin Tomlinson . ... DT RJ McIntosh, the fifth-round draft pick, was at minicamp but did not take part in practices. Shurmur said he will need an undisclosed medical procedure . ... Backup quarterbacks Davis Webb and rookie Kyle Lauletta played well in short-yardage and red-zone drills.