(Pre)season’s greetings! At long last we will get a glimpse of this year’s New York Giants football. If you want to know what to watch for at each position, or if you just need a refresher on how the depth chart’s shaping up, read on…
** In order of what I find most intriguing **
- JPP is on active/PUP and won’t play, and Tuck is dealing with a tightened back and will play limited snaps if at all (I think he’ll sit out). So boom, spotlight on our depth pass rushers! Mathias Kiwanuka and Cullen Jenkins are expected to start on the ends, and if they can be disruptive against the Steelers’ starting O-Line that would bode well. But who I really want to see is 3rd round rookie [DE] Damontre Moore; I really think the “damonster” was a gigantic steal in the draft, and that it won’t take long for him to show NFL production. That means he should be embarrassing depth offensive tackles every week this preseason. Adrian Tracy could use a nice showing as well, but his roster spot sounds pretty secure. The [DE]s battling to make the final 53 are Adewale Ojomo, Matt Broha, and Justin Trattou. Broha is listed ahead of Ojomo on the depth chart, but we’re left wondering why last year’s preseason standout (Ojomo) is struggling. Some guys just aren’t practice players, and need the bright lights to get them going. Here’s his chance to remind us what he can do.
- Defensive Tackle is arguably our deepest position, yet there’s only room for 4 (maybe 5) on the final roster. Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins (probably playing end this week), and Shaun Rogers should make the squad. 2nd rounder Jonathan Hankins has impressed through the spring and summer, and it’s almost a lock that we’ll keep our high draft pick around. [DE] Markus Kuhn would’ve been on our roster last year if he didn’t tear his ACL, and we’ve been waiting for Marvin Austin to flash for years now. Those two, plus veteran Mike Patterson and Frank Okam, will be fighting to wrestle away the spot that currently belongs to Rogers. I’d bet most of the guys we eventually cut find themselves on other teams’ rosters.
- Probably the unit with the biggest question mark on the team. How will David Wilson look in his second year, and can he be trusted in pass protection on third down? Can Andre Brown’s pass-pro be trusted? We all expect Wilson to win the starting job, but you better believe that if Brown looks better in preseason he will be the day 1 starter. And behind those two, who will make the roster? Da’Rel Scott has been able to shine in preseasons past, and Michael Cox has rookie status (although he was a late rounder). Ryan Torain is the proven veteran, but he’ll miss this game with concussion symptoms and if those linger he won’t be in the mix for long. It’s definitely possible that our 3rd string [RB] is not on the current roster.
TIGHT END / FULLBACK
- Free agent pickup [TE] Brandon Myers is the pure receiver that Eli really hasn’t had at that position (eh, maybe JShock). Regardless, I’m excited to see our new toy and I think his pass catching ability will open up the whole offense. Behind him, Adrien Robinson (4th round pick last year) and Larry Donnell are more the typical NYG [TE] mold, and have gotten high praise from tight end coach Mike Pope, who really knows what he’s talking about. In fact, behind THOSE two, Jamie Childers and Chase Clement have also been making plays over the past few weeks. But the guy to keep an eye on is Donnell, who can make a case to stay on the final 53 with a strong preseason.
- With [FB] Henry Hynoski out with a broken leg, and possibly headed towards the inactive/PUP to start the season, expectation is that Bear Pascoe will handle the majority of those duties. We’ve signed another fullback in Ryan D’Imperio, and other tight ends have been getting reps in the backfield as well. I’d expect to see a merry-go-round of players tested there, and success could serve as a fast track towards making the team.
- Plain and simple: every starting spot here is up for grabs. It’s not super interesting because at the end of the day, we know who the top-6 are, and they will likely be shuffled around all season long. Those players are [Rivers, Herzlich, Paysinger // Curry, Connor, Williams]. All I’ve been hearing is how much improvement Paysinger and Herzlich have shown, so it’d be nice to see it for myself against live competition. The nickel [LB]s have been Paysinger and Williams, so we’ll see what shape their coverage is in. Behind those top guys are Kyle Bosworth, Jake Muasau, and Etienne Sabino, who I’d imagine are fighting for one spot, if any. Keep in mind that NYG places very low value on this unit of the defense.
- Also a unit that fans worry about, this week won’t tell us much because of injuries. Starting [RG] Chris Snee, backup James Brewer, and first rounder Justin Pugh will all be sitting out on Saturday. Which sucks, because the battle between Brewer, Pugh, and Diehl is the main thing we’re interested in. All we can hope for is solid play out of Diehl.
- Players working for backup jobs: Brandon Mosley, Jim Cordle, Selvish Capers, Matt McCants, Eric Herman… among others. Hard to predict who exactly will land as backup O-Linemen, but keep an eye out for Herman, who was drafted this year. Apparently he has a knack for pancake blocks.
- Not much uncertainty here, but a lot of praise being heaped unto these guys. [CB]s Prince Amukamara, Aaron Ross, and Trumaine McBride have been raising the most eyebrows. McBride will be fighting for his roster spot, though. Webster and Hosley are locks, and if Terrell Thomas gets back to full health, he’ll make the squad. Big IF. Other [CB]s such as Laron Scott, Charles James, and Junior Mertile have been making splash plays during camp, so there’s some nice competition down the depth chart. Somewhat comforting considering this group was considered a weak link one season ago.
- The [S] I was most excited to see was rookie Cooper Taylor, who is huge – 6’4″ 228lbs. But he won’t play this weekend due to a hamstring. New addition Ryan Mundy sounds like a sure thing, and he’ll be playing against his former team in Pittsburgh. Will Hill also seemed fast-tracked for the final roster, until he got nailed with a 4 game suspension for the second year in a row. That could be good news for Tyler Sash, who has struggled to find a role on our team. Could be interesting to see how playing time is distributed among those three.
- [SS] Stevie Brown has been talking about being more versatile, working on his ability to play in the box. I’m sure he will get a chance this preseason to show what he’s got. If he can handle it, we will get to see more of Antrel Rolle roaming in deep coverage, and maybe he can start piling up some interceptions to help justify his massive contract. (Don’t misinterpret my tone, Rolle’s play near the line of scrimmage has been a blessing).
- This unit is our best, on either side of the ball. Some people may need more convincing about Rueben Randle, but I already know he’s a stud. Nicks, Cruz, Randle, and Murphy are going to give defenses fits, and this offense will fly high. So the main goal for the next four weeks: keep all four of these players healthy. I hope they all play limited snaps, and holding Nicks out this week sounds like a good start.
- That 5th [WR] spot will belong to either Jerrel Jernigan or Ramses Barden, but we’ll have to wait and see who gets it. Jernigan’s ability to return will certainly help his case, but Barden can play special teams coverage and could help in the red zone. I think JJ wins out. Players like Brandon Collins have had good off-seasons, but there’s no room on the 53 man roster for them.
- We should see Eli (and the rest of the 1s) for about 12-15 snaps. Then we’ll get a good dose of David Carr, whose tenure has earned him that right. Will we get to see 4th rounder Ryan Nassib after that, Coach Coughlin? Or are you going to make us suffer through Curtis Painter first? “Don’t worry about it, you’ll see it” says Coach. It better be Nassib, that’s all I have to say. Painter is not in the plans, and I’m not sure I’ll understand if he’s still around in a week or two. This position battle will certainly heat up if we decide there’s only room for 2 [QB]s here… because that likely means Carr is the odd man out.
NYG FOOTBALL IS BACK! PRAY FOR HEALTH!