If Alex Hall picked up anything while around the defensive line of the New York Giants, the Blue Bombers should benefit.
Hall, who spent four years in the NFL after being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2008 (seventh round), is in Winnipeg trying to win a job with another Big Blue. The 26-year-old is in tough: He's been out of football since September 2011, when the Giants waived him before the start of the NFL season.
Though he only played in two games for New York, he said being around the likes of pass rush demons Justin Tuck and Osi Umenyiora made him a better player -- one the Bombers will appreciate should he get an opportunity.
"When I was there it helped me develop a lot as a rusher, being around those guys," Hall said after a weather-shortened practice Saturday.
On the subject of the somewhat combustible Tom Coughlin, the Giants head coach, Hall had nothing but praise: "Tom was a firecracker. He's always going -- even for his age -- he's always energetic. Great coach, good guy. He showed me a lot when I was there. I thought he was a mean coach, at first, when I went. He was really a nice guy."
The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Hall joined the Giants in December 2010, and getting released before the start of last season was tough, especially with the Giants winning the Super Bowl.
How did Hall feel when he watched the confetti fall on the Giants in Indianapolis earlier this year?
"Mixed emotions. That's all I'm going to say about that," he said.
The Bombers like Hall's "bend" -- his ability to scamper around the tackle and disrupt things in the backfield -- and his height at the line of scrimmage. If he can't get to the quarterback, he can influence the pass coming out of he pocket, head coach Paul LaPolice said Saturday.
"Normally those types of bodies are in the NFL, so it's really nice to have a big, long guy who can get his hands up and knock the ball down," the coach said.
UNFAIR ADVANTAGE: At times during Saturday's scrimmage, it looked like quarterback Buck Pierce would be nailed for a sack. As the defender let up on the pursuit and ran right through the backfield, LaPolice chose to put the whistle in his pocket and allowed Pierce to continue the play.
The coach had to explain his decision to a few defenders after he fact.
"We're all a team here, so if I hold the whistle when you think you have a sack, don't worry about it -- I'm trying to get more reps," he said. "We don't want to simulate second and 15 all the time."
QUOTABLE: Rookie receiver Chris Matthews, on how he's faring with his "waggle" through the first week of camp. For those not in the know, "waggle" is the term players and coaches use for the running start receivers take at the line of scrimmage just as the ball is snapped:
"I haven't done a lot of waggles yet, but I think it's pretty good.
"I'm learning from Cory Watson; he's probably one of the best waggle guys we got out there. Everyone is always telling me to watch Cory, so he must be pretty good at it."
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Old and new?
Those thinking that the Bombers offence will be radically different from years past shouldn't check their expectations. Here's what head coach Paul LaPolice said Saturday: "It will be a combination of 50 per cent of what we did last year and 50 per cent of (offensive co-ordinator Gary Crowton's) stuff."
Among those Bombers sitting out were RT Andre Douglas, LB Marcellus Bowman, DB Jeremy McGee, DB Deon Beasley, DT Dorian Smith, and SB Jade Etienne. DB Alex Suber returned to practice Saturday. DB Brandon Stewart took part in the game simulation, while S Brady Browne did not.