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No holds allowed: Giants defensive backs practicing with tennis balls taped to hands to prevent penalties

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New York Giants coach Joe Judge has a plan to cut down on defensive penalties in 2020. Giants defensive backs have spent the past couple days practicing with tennis balls taped to their hands, according to Dan Duggan of The Athletic.

That sounds pretty weird, but there’s some logic behind Judge’s plan. If Giants defensive backs can’t fully close their hands, they can’t hold receivers.

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Judge confirmed that was the case, saying, “We’re not going to accept penalties. So we’ll find any little trick we can to teach them,’ according to Duggan.

Giants prevented penalties overall, but struggled in the secondary

While the Giants didn’t commit that many penalties overall in 2019, the team’s secondary was an issue last season. The Giants were called for 11 defensive pass interference penalties, which tied for fifth-most in the league, according to The Football Database.

Overall, the team was pretty disciplined. The Giants committed 90 total penalties last season, which ranked as the third-fewest in the NFL.

Joe Judge also considering letting Daniel Jones take some hits

Most head coaches would shy away from allowing their quarterback to take hits during practice, but Judge feels differently.

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Judge said he’s considering letting Jones take a few hits before Week 1 to prepare Jones for the regular season. Judge added that the team wasn’t going to throw Jones “into a royal rumble or anything like that.”

NFL teams and players used to weird drills

Judge tennis ball tactic may seem odd, but it isn’t out of the ordinary in the NFL. Teams and players have turned to strange and unique tactics to try and teach players new skills. In 2014, the Cleveland Browns made their defensive backs wear boxing gloves during practice to cut down on holding.

Both the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys have used boxing gloves as a way to teach running backs ball security. Adrian Peterson has also trained with boxing gloves.

Individual players aren’t immune to doing weird drills either. Aaron Donald once trained in the offseason with fake knives, Jameis Winston drew criticism for dodging a weighted ball while pretending to be in the pocket and Dak Prescott’s hip-loosening exercise briefly became a meme.

Letting your quarterback take unnecessary hits, though? That’s a new one.

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