The final preseason game is usually a ho-hum affair but this Giants-Jets contest has the air of a circus due to the team in green that suffers from a chronic inferiority complex playing their latest “savior.” The sooner this game is over, the better.
Indications from practice this week suggest that many of the Giants veteran starters will not play. We will probably see rookie and second-year starters or valuable back-ups get some playing time in the first half.
The Jets are most likely looking to make a statement. Yawn.
THE INJURY REPORT:
WR Wan’Dale Robinson (ACL) and CB Aaron Robinson (ACL) remain on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List.
RB Gary Brightwell (unknown), TE Tommy Sweeney (unknown), OL Jack Anderson (unknown), DL Ryder Anderson (triceps), LB Cam Brown (unknown), CB Cor’Dale Flott (unknown), and S/CB Nick McCloud (unknown) did not practice this week and are unlikely to play.
NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Do not expect much from the Giants’ offense on Saturday. The Jets’ backup defensive linemen have been terrorizing opposing offenses this preseason. If their starters play, it could get ugly for the Giants, particularly if guys like Andrew Thomas, Daniel Jones, Darren Waller, and Saquon Barkley sit.
Really there are two things the Giants can get out of this game on both sides of the ball:
- Continue to provide valuable game experience to the youngest starters/important role players in anticipation of the regular season.
- Acquire more information on players fighting for a 53-man roster spot or place on the Practice Squad.
Thus, we may see center John Michael Schmitz and right tackle Evan Neal play against a very talented defensive front. I would expect Joshua Ezeudu to play and possibly Ben Bredeson and Mark Glowinski if all three are still fighting for two starting spots. Beyond the six obvious offensive linemen who will make the roster (Thomas, Neal, Schmitz, Bredeson, Glowinski, Ezeudu), the team also must determine who the last three reserves will be. Thus, this is a really big game for Matt Peart, Korey Cunningham, Marcus McKethan, and Shane Lemieux. Complicating matters is that Tyre Phillips missed the the first two preseason games and we do not know for sure if he is playing in this one since he just returned from injury. Jack Anderson will likely not play.
The other unsettled area on this team is wide receiver. Barring injury, Parris Campbell, Darius Slayton, Isaiah Hodgins, and Jalin Hyatt will be on the final 53. Wan’Dale Robinson will also be on the 53-man roster sooner or later. But his return date complicates matters. Do the Giants activate him from the PUP before opening day in two weeks? That’s possible. It’s also possible the Giants keep him on the PUP for the first month of the season. The Giants are likely to keep six or seven receivers. So depending on Robinson’s return, there could be two or three openings left for Sterling Shepard, Cole Beasley, Jamison Crowder, Collin Johnson, and Bryce Ford-Wheaton. Coming off a very serious injury, Shepard has had a surprisingly strong camp. Beasley was impressing before he got hurt. Johnson’s knee injury sabotaged his camp and his best hope may be the Practice Squad. Whether he and Bryce Ford-Wheaton can make it through waivers unclaimed remains questionable and he could have special teams value that keeps him on the 53.
We know that Darren Waller and Daniel Bellinger are the top two tight ends. But things got a bit more complicated this week when Tommy Sweeney suffered an unspecified medical incident while not practicing this week. Sweeney missed 2020 with myocarditis. We’re talking about potential career-threatening stuff here. How long will the medical staff want to keep him away from the playing field? Sweeney is the second-best blocker at the position on the team. Lawrence Cager is more receiver than blocker. Chris Myarick’s stock may have just gone up.
Running back has generated a lot of fan attention, but Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, and Eric Gray are going to be the top three backs on this team. If one gets hurt, someone will be pulled off of the Practice Squad. Gary Brightwell has missed almost all of camp and the question now is can the Giants waive him without an injury designation. (An unclaimed player who is waived/injured can be waived off of IR with an injury settlement, but he can’t be re-signed until later in the season). Jashaun Corbin has flashed in the preseason and ideally suited for the Practice Squad if he can make it through waivers. James Robinson really hasn’t done much.
Finally, Tommy DeVito gets one more chance to show if he worthy of future development as Tyrod Taylor’s eventual replacement, possibly as early as 2024.
NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The trade for Isaiah Simmons really overshadows this preseason finale. There are those who are overhyping Simmons while others who are minimizing it far too much. As is usually the case, the truth lies in the middle. Simmons will likely not be a classic “starter” by definition. But he can have a big impact on this defense as a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none-type. That’s usually a pejorative, but not necessarily in a Wink Martindale defense. Though he is not an overly physical player, Simmons is at his best attacking the line of scrimmage as a run-and-hit player if you can keep big bodies off of him. He has legit sub 4.4 speed and can chase down anyone on the field. He also can cover, as long as you are not asking him to cover quick, little guys. Simmons immediately is one of the best pass rushers on the roster and the fastest coverage linebacker. For a 7th-round pick and $1 million salary? No brainer.
Before getting into the game, one other comment. The Giants REALLY have upgraded their overall team speed this offseason on both sides of the ball. Parris Campbell, Jalin Hyatt, Darren Waller, Bobby Okereke, Isaiah Simmons, Deonte Banks, and Tre Hawkins make this a much faster team at THE key positions where speed is an asset. Combine these guys with Saquon Barkley, Daniel Jones, Darius Slayton, Kayvon Thibodeau, Azeez Ojulari, Adoree’ Jackson, and Jason Pinnock and this is a very fast team now. Defensively, the Giants have also added a lot of length (height + arm length) to those who will cover passing targets.
I would not expect to see many of the core defensive players to play in this one. Guys like Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Bobby Okereke, and Xavier McKinney will probably sit. This should enable Aaron Rodgers and the Jets faithful to feel good about themselves for a night. Again, we will probably see the youngsters who need experience such as Deonte Banks, Tre Hawkins, and Micah McFadden. I’m not sure if we will even see Jason Pinnock, who is coming off an injury that caused him to miss some practice time.
Up front, Giants fans still have not seen our two primary back-ups and occasional starters – A’Shawn Robinson and Rakeem Nunez-Roches – play. Thus, they have largely been forgotten. They shouldn’t be. Both are significant additions who will play important roles against run-heavy teams like the Eagles, Cowboys, and Commanders. Do they play on Saturday or will we have to wait until September? Meanwhile, other than Tre Hawkins, the biggest surprise of training camp has been Jordon Riley. What a tremendous additions both players have been for such low draft picks! Ryder Anderson’s injury has sabotaged his whole camp and he is in the same boat as Gary Brightwell in terms of cutting him with possibly an injury designation. On the flip side, D.J. Davidson returned to practice this week and actually received some first-team reps. He has a lot of rust to knock off. My personal preference is for the team to carry six defensive linemen (Lawrence, Williams, Robinson, Nunez-Roches, Riley, and Davidson).
At linebacker, outside we know Thibodeaux, Ojulari, and Ward will be on the team. The presence of Simmons now as another dynamic pass rusher makes predicting other spots more difficult. Simmons can not only blitz up the middle, but he can rush from the outside. Tomon Fox, Oshane Ximines, and Tashawn Bower are all fighting for a roster spot. Habakkuk Baldonado’s best chance is probably still the Practice Squad. This is a very important game for all four players. Inside, again, Simmons helps but also makes predicting final roster spots tough. We know Okereke, McFadden, and Beavers will make it along with Simmons. Is there room for someone like Carter Coughlin? Cam Brown has missed most of camp and may have to be waived/injured too, complicating any potential Practice Squad plans.
I’ll feel a lot better when Deonte Banks and Tre Hawkins have gotten their snaps and are out of the game healthy. The reserves will be undermanned with Cor’Dale Flott and Nick McCloud not playing due to injury. McCloud’s camp has also been sabotaged and one wonders if he still has a roster spot despite a very strong spring.
Dane Belton appears to have the third safety spot nailed down. The Giants will likely keep five safeties. Six is possible given some CB/S flexibility with McCloud and Bobby McCain. I wouldn’t think the team would want to expose Gervarrius Owens to waivers, but it’s a number’s game right now at the position. The top three corners are obviously the two rookies and Adoree’ Jackson. With Aaron Robinson still on the PUP and no word on his return, one would expect him to miss at least the first month of the season. Darnay Holmes and Flott should both make the 53-man roster. That’s five corners. Big game for someone like Amani Oruwariye and Zyon Gilbert.
NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The Eric Gray experiment continues.
THE FINAL WORD:
The Jets are going to take this game much more seriously than the Giants. Please don’t get bent out of shape over this one. Just get out of the contest healthy.