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Dwayne Harris, New York Giants (November 15, 2015)

Dwayne Harris – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Game Preview: New England Patriots at New York Giants, September 1, 2016

THE STORYLINE:
The fourth preseason game always bugs me. The coaches never want to play the starters very long. But with the roster being reduced to 75 only days before and the always-present not-playing-because-of-injury players, you have guys risking injury who probably should be sitting on the bench.

Reading between the lines, it doesn’t sound like the Giants starters will play much, and some may not play at all. Even if they do, Bill Belichick usually sits most of his starters. So nothing should be really made out of this game other than individual performances.

My advice? Watch your favorite players and don’t get too worked up over anything.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • TE Will Johnson (burner – will not play)
  • LB Jonathan Casillas (ribs – will not play)
  • LB Jasper Brinkley (knee)
  • LB B.J. Goodson (concussion – will not play)
  • CB Leon Hall (concussion – will not play)
  • S Darian Thompson (shoulder – will not play)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Whether the offense succeeds or fails as a unit is largely immaterial in this game for the reasons I stated above. So let’s focus on the final roster decisions.

Quarterbacks: Eli Manning and Ryan Nassib will be the quarterbacks. Logan Thomas will be cut.

Running Backs: The sure bets are Rashad Jennings, Shane Vereen, and Paul Perkins. Do the Giants keep one or two more backs? It’s hard to envision the team being able to keep Bobby Rainey. My guess is Andre Williams makes the roster with Orleans Darkwa on the bubble.

Tight Ends/Fullback: The injuries to Nikita Whitlock and Matt LaCosse make this easy. Larry Donnell, Will Tye, and Jerell Adams will be the tight ends. Will Johnson will serve as a fullback/H-Back/tight end swingman.

Wide Receivers: The Giants will probably keep six. The sure bets are Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz, and Dwayne Harris. Geremy Davis probably makes it with Tavarres King and Roger Lewis fighting for the last roster spot. This is a big game for those two.

Offensive Line: The sure bets are Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, John Jerry, Marshall Newhouse, Will Beatty, and Bobby Hart. The eighth lineman may not be on the roster yet. Somebody being cut by another team has to be better than Adam Gettis, Emmett Cleary, Brett Jones, Ryan Seymour, Dillon Farrell, and Jake Rodgers. Jerry Reese didn’t do a very good job of addressing this unit in the offseason despite still having a lot of $$$ to play with.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

Defensive Line: My guess is the Giants go top-heavy with defensive ends with Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Kerry Wynn, and Romeo Okwara all making the team. Defensive tackle is trickier. It’s not a given the Giants will keep four, but they probably will. Damon Harrison and Johnathan Hankins are the starters. The Giants will give Jay Bromley one more season. This is a big game for the remaining three tackles: Jermelle Cudjo, Louis Nix, and Montori Hughes.

Linebackers: The Giants will probably keep seven. Devon Kennard, Jonathan Casillas, Jasper Brinkley, Kelvin Sheppard, and B.J. Goodson all seem like safe bets. Keenan Robinson, J.T. Thomas, and Mark Herzlich seem to be fighting for two roster spots.

Defensive Backs: The Giants will probably keep five corners and four safeties. They might go with six corners if they go light someplace else (i.e., one fewer running back or defensive tackle). The definites are Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Janoris Jenkins, and Eli Apple. Leon Hall, Trevin Wade, and Donte Deayon may be fighting for two roster spots. With the earlier cuts, safety is easier to figure out. Darian Thompson and Landon Collins will be the starters. Nat Berhe, Mykkele Thompson, Andrew Adams, and Justin Currie are fighting for two spots. Based on who has been receiving first-team reps, Berhe and Thompson are probably the favorites.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The punter is Brad Wing and the long snapper is Zak DeOssie. Dwayne Harris will be the primary kickoff and punt returner. Unless the Giants see someone even better on the waiver wire, Randy Bullock will be the opening-night kicker. Do the Giants go back to Josh Brown after that game or part ways with him?

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Ben McAdoo on the Fourth Preseason Game: “Every game is important. You only get four preseason games. It’s the best way to evaluate players. We’re obviously going to take a nice long look at some guys at the bottom part of the roster and give them an opportunity. So, it counts… We’re not just going to say that starters are going to play 10 plays or 20 plays, nothing like that. We’re going to look at it on a case-by-case basis.”

THE FINAL WORD:
The key battles to watch:

  • Andre Williams versus Orleans Darkwa
  • Tavarres King versus Roger Lewis
  • Louis Nix versus Montori Hughes versus Jermelle Cudjo
  • Keenan Robinson versus J.T. Thomas versus Mark Herzlich
  • Trevin Wade versus Donte Deayon
  • Mykkele Thompson versus Andrew Adams
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Eric Kennedy

Eric Kennedy is Editor-in-Chief of BigBlueInteractive.com, a publication of Big Blue Interactive, LLC. Follow @BigBlueInteract on Twitter.

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