Aug 182019
 
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New York Giants Defense (August 16, 2019)

New York Giants Defense – © USA TODAY Sports

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New York Giants 32 – Chicago Bears 13

QUICK RECAP

Week 2 of the preseason brought in a team coming off the “worst-to-first” season. The Bears, who won just 5 games in 2017, took the NFC North in 2018 with 12 victories. Jim Nagy won Coach of the Year, the Bears defense allowed a league low 17 points per game, and QB Mitch Trubisky took a big step in his progression. This had the look of a solid test for where NYG stood at this point. However Nagy, who appears to be anti-preseason football, sat nearly his entire first string on both sides of the ball. The Giants test would have a different outlook, but the game still was to be played.

Eli Manning partook in just one drive for the second week in a row, however this one was much more impressive. He attempted 4 passes, completing all 4 to different targets, the last of which an 8-yard touchdown to Bennie Fowler. It was a smooth and easy grouping of plays for the first string offense.

Chase Daniel started for the Bears, the same Chase Daniel who lost to NYG last December in a 2-interception game. A couple of NYG mistakes enabled them to drive down the field and eventually hit a 41-yard field goal. The score was 7-3 as the end of the first quarter approached and rookie Daniel Jones was ready to take over with the first string offense surrounding him. After three straight completions, the last of which went for 40 yards to Cody Latimer, Jones fumbled a snap and turned the ball over in the red zone.

Quality offensive football took a nap, as the two teams produced 5 straight 3-and-outs, one of which ended with Jones’ second fumble of the night and then a missed CHI field goal attempt. He was able to recover well enough and thanks to quality offensive line play, NYG was able to put another 3 points on the board with a 47-yard field goal. On the ensuing drive, an errant snap produced a safety and a 12-3 lead for NYG. Jones had under 3 minutes left and he finished the half with arguably his best drive of his young career.

With urgency in the no huddle offense, Jones went a perfect 4-4 including a beautiful touch pass to T.J. Jones in the end zone. The 15-yard touchdown gave the Giants a commanding 19-3 lead with a little over 1 minute left in the half. That was enough for the Bears to get themselves back into field goal position with time expiring which they took advantage of, making the score 19-6 at the halfway point.

The full list of backups took over in the second half with Alex Tanney appearing to still have a firm grip on the number three job. His night didn’t begin in ideal fashion, as his offense went 3-and-out on drive number one and the second ended in a poor interception with NYG just one yard away from a touchdown on first down. An under throw, ill-advised decision ended up in the hands of CHI rookie corner Clifton Duck. The Bears turned that in to a touchdown and got within 6 as the fourth quarter got under way. Tanney did bounce back with one more TD-scoring drive, this one by roster-hopeful Ronnie Hilliman, making the score 25-13.

NYG took advantage of poor CHI play that produced penalties and fumbles. With Kyle Lauletta leading the offense at this point, they scored another 6 on a pass to Garrett Dickerson. The Giants had a 32-13 lead and after another Bears turnover, the game was all but over. Not the cleanest win, but NYG improved their record to 2-0.

Giants win 32-13.

QUARTERBACKS

Eli Manning: 4/4 – 42 yards – 1 TD. Manning was on the field for just one drive for the second straight week. It was a smooth and efficient drive with the highlight play being an absolute rope to Latimer over the middle. It was a tight-window throw that traveled 20+ yards in the air. The reports of Manning’s arm being stronger than in years past are credible.

-Daniel Jones: 11/14 – 161 yards – 1 TD. Add 2 lost fumbles to the stats for Jones, something that absolutely needs to be cleaned up. Turnover margin is the ONE stat that correlates to wins and losses more than any other. Besides that, Jones expanded the throw-arsenal in this one. He pushed the ball downfield for a 40-yard gain to Latimer and it was a nicely placed ball. Some will say he should have led Latimer more, but that could have easily resulted in the safety bearing down on the ball and breaking it up. With the cornerback running with his back to Jones, I think that is where the throw was meant to land. Jones’ touchdown pass to T.J. Jones was something we saw in college. Perfect placement, perfect touch, easily catchable. Some pro QBs never fully grasp the ability to alter touch and air under the ball throughout all levels of the passing tree and it looks like it comes so natural to Jones. This was another excellent passing performance by Jones, but the fumbles can’t be overlooked.

-The battle for the number three job between Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta appears all but over. Tanney did throw an interception on 1st-and-goal from the 1-yard line, a major mistake, but he still showed more ability to push the ball downfield. Lauletta did end the night with a touchdown and had a solid 15-yard rushing gain. I expect Manning and Jones to get almost all the snaps in week 3, so the last shot in game action will likely come in two weeks.

RUNNING BACKS

-With both Saquon Barkley and Wayne Gallman on the sideline, it was an opportunity to shine for Rod Smith and Paul Perkins. Smith’s size is something these other potential backups don’t bring to the table, he can really push the pile. He finished with 10-42 on the ground and 2-8 via the air. He fumbled once but it was recovered by Nick Gates, the backup NYG left tackle. Perkins, who was a complete dud in week 1, put together arguably his best game-performance in a Giants uniform. 6-35 on the ground and 2 catches for 30 yards. He displayed the quickness, burst, and balance on a couple of occasions that got me originally excited about him years ago. I still think it is unlikely he makes the team if this coaching staff wants to just keep 3 backs on the roster in addition to fullback Elijah Penny.

-Jon Hilliman bounced back after taking a nasty hit and missing a couple days while in concussion protocol last week. He had a team-high 16 carries for 56 yards and a touchdown. Hilliman gets downhill in a hurry and runs with a low pad level. He has always been a solid between the tackles runner but that role on this team won’t be there barring injury to the guys in front of him.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-T.J. Jones continues to impress, whether it be in practice or in a game. He walked away from this one with 3 catches – 32 yards – 1 TD. For a small guy, Jones gets to the ball in contested situations exceptionally well. He is more than just an underneath threat. Great find by the Pro Personnel staff here, because I think Jones is going to be the #3 or #4 on this team while Tate is suspended.

-Cody Latimer was targeted twice and he ended with 2 catches – 60 yards. This is the one guy who can consistently get downfield and with the size/long stride combo, he is going to get plenty of deep looks. You don’t hear much about him in camp reports but I think some are overlooking how solid and reliable he can be. If his health stays in check, I am expecting 65+ catches from him with some big plays in the vertical passing tree.

-Bennie Fowler caught the touchdown from Manning on the first drive. He consistently gets open underneath on the quick slants and hooks. But what may not be obvious to the naked eye is how physical he is. Fowler is 6’1/218 and even looking back at my college scouting report of him, he has always been a guy who can overpower defensive backs. While Tate is suspended those first four weeks, he may be a really important piece to the passing game when those 3-6 yard gains are needed over the middle. He has been proving his worth there so far.

-Nice downfield grabs by Da’Mari Scott (38 yards) and Brittan Golden (27 yards).

TIGHT ENDS

-Evan Engram didn’t play. Rhett Ellison was only on the field for 14 snaps with Scott Simonson only seeing 16 snaps. That left it up to roster hopefuls C.J. Conrad and Garrett Dickerson. Conrad did a nice job blocking with powerful contact and sticky hands while Dickerson showed more in the passing game with 2 catches – 17 yards – 1 TD. They are both interesting players who can, like Ellison, move around to the backfield as a lead blocker, mixing it up in the trenches, and being dependable underneath pass catchers. Simonson had a drop but I think he is firmly in place as the #3 guy.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-The first-string OL got more action in this one, and they did a fine job. No pressures, no sacks, no TFL. I focused on Mike Remmers because of how much that RT spot has hurt the offense in recent years. He is a blue-collar guy who reminds me of a tackle-version of Rich Seubert. Little short on talent and tools but there is a lot of grit, a lot of competitor in him. Center Jon Halapio had a nice game too, very stout and hard to move. When he gets on his target, there is never any movement in the wrong direction. That will be very important.

-Nick Gates is turning into the surprise of the preseason for me personally. He and Chad Wheeler did allow a sack, but other than that Gates was more than solid. There is a lot of twitch and reaction to his game and there is a natural presence about him. The staff is talking about how they are comfortable putting him anywhere along the line and I think he has locked up a spot. Wheeler, on the other hand, is officially on the hot seat. Another sack and pressure again. At some point, there will be a veteran available on the waiver wire who will come in and replace him.

-Don’t sleep on Chad Slade who still has sloppiness about him (1 sack allowed), but he moves guys as well as any of the backups. He, too, brings some inside-out versatility.

-Evan Brown had a holding penalty and was beat badly once on an inside rush, but he is a gritty blocker with quality footwork and balance. I think he has the top inside-backup role locked up other than Spencer Pulley, who I think is a center-only.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-The trio of Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, and Dexter Lawrence had a better game than week 1, but they still are leaving something to be desired. Nothing to overreact to at all, but there is just too much movement at the point-of-attack against the second string CHI offensive line. Lawrence is going to learn really fast that his size and power won’t do as much for him as it did in college. That alone just isn’t going to cut it if you want to be an every-down guy.

-Olsen Pierre recorded a sack and played with violence at the point-of-attack. He and John Jenkins are going to be a solid backup rotation should someone go down. Jenkins has a nice mix of disruptive and stout based on his playing style and tool set.

-One name that is continuing to jump at me, and this applies to practice as well, is Jake Ceresna. He, against 3rd-string OL, is constantly breaking through the line and shows quality athletic adjustments to the action. He had 2 tackles, one of which was for a loss. Also have to give attention to Terrence Fede, who had a nice week 1 and recovered a fumble along with recording a TFL in this one.

EDGE

-The edge rushers, which I think is, as of right now, the weakest group on the defense, had a quality night. Markus Golden recorded a sack via excellent hand-battling and a short area burst to close in on Chase Daniels. Oshane Ximines recorded the first sack of his pro-career via nice post-engagement footwork and balance. It is pretty easy to see he is still a ways away power-wise though.

-Lorenzo Carter had a pressure via a rush move I didn’t think he could pull off. He dipped completely under the blocker’s chest while turning the corner with complete balance and control. For a guy who has the size and straight-line speed to show that kind of movement is a good sign.

-Kareem Martin, albeit limited as a pass rusher, is a really dependable run defender. He is the most physical guy in the group and his backside pursuit made a difference in two occasions. He comes downhill hard and angry. If this defense ends up exceeding expectations, I bet he is a really important piece of the puzzle.

LINEBACKERS

-With Alec Ogletree nursing the calf, Tae Davis and rookie Ryan Connelly got the start and played 21 snaps. Neither recorded a tackle and while that isn’t the only barometer to be used for this success, I think they both struggled. Davis gets lost in traffic if he doesn’t get the initial jump and while that is common at the position, it happens too often with him. Connelly, on the other hand, made several key reads but was just a step or two too slow and couldn’t close the deal. He will have to adjust his angles a tad, as the speed of the game especially on outside runs isn’t anything close to what he is used to.

-Nate Stupar had a nice game: three tackles and pass break up. He is well thought of by the coaches and his presence with the other players is another check in his box. He has assumed a bit of a leadership role. B.J. Goodson, again, had to wait his turn. But once he got on the field, he made a couple plays, one of which was a nice pursuit and finish to the outside. Personally I really hope he sticks around this year, I think he can make things happen and he deserves a shot. I’m not sold on Connelly getting a higher spot on the depth chart than him just yet.

CORNERBACKS

-Janoris Jenkins and Antonio Hamilton got the start. With Baker out for the time being, which I don’t think will be long, it is interesting to compare these backup corners. I trust Hamilton the most because he seems to make the reads more consistently, whereas Henre’ Toliver was late to notice things and could have been burned deep a couple times had CHI 3rd-stringer Tyler Bray made accurate downfield passes.

-Corey Ballentine and Grant Haley are both very grabby. It is a gamble that, with the way these refs are throwing flags, could end up hurting this defense more than expected. Ballentine, as we talked about last week, has the tools that will make us drool. Haley is a solid nickel presence that has had a knack for making things happen but I get worried about seeing how much they grab.

SAFETIES

-Jabrill Peppers vs. Landon Collins will be a interesting comparison. Peppers actually plays more physical and that was apparent on how forcefully he was filling gaps. The question with him is reactive coverage, more notably zone, as I saw him exposed a couple of times in the all-22 tape. Fortunately it didn’t hurt them, this time.

-Kenny Ladler made another impactful, physical tackle. He continues to impress and it will be important to have another physical guy behind Peppers ready to step in should he go down. Peppers does have a slight injury history dating back to his days at Michigan, although he did play all 16 games in 2018.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 1/1 (Made 47).

-P Riley Dixon: 3 Punts – 40.3 avg / 45.3 net

-T.J. Jones had a 43-yard kick return but also muffed a punt that he ended up recovering himself. The more he can prove to do, the more likely he makes this team and the active game day roster.

3 STUDS

-RB Paul Perkins, OC Jon Halapio, OLB Lorenzo Carter

3 DUDS

-OT Chad Wheeler, TE Scott Simonson, LB Ryan Connelly

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-This offense is passing the preliminary tests. The main reason? The offensive line is controlling the point-of-attack and sustaining their blocks. While they haven’t been truly tested just yet, they are giving plenty of time and mental security to the passers. We haven’t seen that in preseason in recent years.

-Do we need to see Saquon Barkley this preseason? I think we do and yes, the fear of an injury is real. But this is football and I don’t want weeks 1 and 2 to be, in any fashion, players getting “the rust off”. I think it would benefit Barkley to get at least 6-7 touches in against CIN in the third preseason game.

-The emergence of T.J. Jones at receiver is good news for the offense but it has to mean someone may get the boot who we didn’t initially expect. The Tate suspension could end up helping someone stick around but if this team keeps six receivers not including Tate, the likes of Alonzo Russell, Alex Wesley, and Da’Mari Scott are going to be on the outside looking in.

Aug 162019
 
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Daniel Jones and T.J. Jones, New York Giants (August 16, 2019)

Daniel Jones and T.J. Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

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NEW YORK GIANTS 32 – CHICAGO BEARS 13…
The New York Giants soundly defeated the Chicago Bears 32-13 on Friday night at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. While the Giants played without a number of starters, including running back Saquon Barkley, tight end Evan Engram, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, linebacker Alec Ogletree, and cornerback DeAndre Baker, the Bears sat all of their offensive and defensive starters.

The Giants’ first-team offense easily moved down the field against the Bears’ second-team defense on their initial possession, driving 79 yards in 10 plays. On 3rd-and-5 from the 8-yard line, quarterback Eli Manning hit wide receiver Bennie Fowler for an 8-yard touchdown. The Bears’ second-team offense responded with an 11-play, 55-yard drive against the Giants’ first-team defense to set up a 41-yard field goal. Giants 7 – Bears 3.

Daniel Jones took over at quarterback on New York’s second possession near the end of the first quarter. He connected on a 17-yard pass to Fowler on 2nd-and-14. Two plays later, Jones found wide receiver Cody Latimer for a 40-yard gain on a deep sideline pass. However, an untouched Jones fumbled the ball away on the very next play and the Bears took over at their own 24-yard line.

After two three-and-outs by the Bears and one by the Giants, Jones was stripped of the football on a 3rd-and-11 play on the team’s fourth possession of the night. The Bears returned the fumble to the Giants’ 12-yard line. However, defensive end Olsen Pierre sacked the Bears’ quarterback on 3rd-and-15, setting up a 47-yard field goal attempt that was missed.

On the ensuing drive, Jones connected with wide receiver Brittan Golden on a 27-yard catch-and-run that set up a 47-yard field goal by place kicker Aldrick Rosas. Giants 10 – Bears 3. The Giants quickly extended their advantage to 12-3 when Chicago botched a shotgun snap that resulted in a fumble out of the end zone for a safety. The Giants got the ball back on the free kick. Jones connected with running back Paul Perkins on a 26-yard screen pass. After two short passes to wide receiver T.J. Jones and a run by Perkins, Jones threw a perfect pass into the endzone for a 15-yard score to T.J. Jones. The Giants now led 19-3 with just over a minute to play before halftime.

The Bears appeared to have returned the ensuing kickoff 103 yards for a touchdown, but a holding penalty brought the ball back to the Bears’ 28-yard line. Still, Chicago was able to drive the ball 63 yards in nine plays to set up a 27-yard field goal. At the half, New York led 19-6.

Chicago went three-and-out to start the second half. Alex Tanney was now in the game for the Giants at quarterback and New York also went three-and-out. After the Bears’ second three-and-out of the half, the Giants drove 71 yards to the Bears’ 1-yard line. But on 1st-and-goal, Tanney threw an ill-advised pass that was picked off and returned 62 yards by the Bears to the Giants’ 37-yard line. Six plays later, the Bears scored a 1-yard touchdown to cut New York’s lead to 19-13.

On their third possession of the second half, New York impressively responded with a 6-play, 60-yard score after a 43-yard kickoff return by T.J. Jones. On 3rd-and-8, Tanney hit wide receiver Da’Mari Scott for 38 yards on a deep pass. Three plays later, running back Jon Hilliman ran for a 10-yard touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed and the Giants led 25-13 at the start of the fourth quarter.

After both teams exchanged punts, linebacker Jonathan Anderson forced a fumble that linebacker Josiah Tauaefa recovered, setting up the Giants at the Chicago 36-yard line. Six plays later, quarterback Kyle Lauletta threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Garrett Dickerson. Giants 32 – Bears 13.

An unforced fumble by the Bears that defensive end Terrence Fede recovered gave the Giants the ball back at the Chicago 24-yard line with 5:38 left to play. The Giants took 4:33 off of the clock before turning the ball over on down at the 3-yard line. Chicago then just ran out the clock.

On offense, Manning finished 4-of-4 for 42 yards and a touchdown. Jones was 11-of-14 for 161 yards and one touchdown. He also fumbled the ball away twice. Tanney was 4-of-9 for 54 yards and an interception. Lauletta was 2-of-3 for 13 yards and a touchdown. No receiver had more than three catches. Hilliman rushed for 56 yards on 16 carries; Rod Smith 42 yards on 10 carries with one fumble; and Perkins 35 yards on six carries.

Defensively, the Giants recovered two fumbles. In addition to Pierre, linebackers Markus Golden and Oshane Ximines each had sacks.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
RB Wayne Gallman (ankle), WR Sterling Shepard (thumb), WR Darius Slayton, OT Brian Mihalik (burner), OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion), LB Alec Ogletree (calf), CB Deandre Baker (knee), CB Sam Beal (hamstring), and LS Zak DeOssie did not play.

Running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram were healthy scratches.

Cornerback Antonio Hamilton left the game with a groin injury and did not return.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

https://twitter.com/Giants/status/1162567669784166400

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur will address the media by conference call on Saturday. The players are off on Saturday and return to training camp practice on Sunday.

Aug 152019
 
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T.J. Jones, New York Giants (August 8, 2019)

T.J. Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

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Preseason Game Preview: Chicago Bears at New York Giants, August 16, 2019

THE STORYLINE:
In terms of media and fan perspective, the predominant early narrative on the 2019 New York Giants remains the same. Most see a rebuilding team with a potentially yet-to-be-determined and messy quarterback transition. The game against the New York Jets provided some reasons to be optimistic and some causes for concern. Minus their best player (Saquon Barkley), the Giants pretty soundly defeated their cross-town rivals, and looked sharper in doing so than is normally the custom for the first preseason game. Daniel Jones played better than anyone expected and a number of the newcomers on both sides of the ball flashed. It was an entertaining game and the players seemed motivated and excited. On the flip side, the first-team defense and offense struggled on the initial drives. The Giants couldn’t run the ball. But that should change once Barkley is in the line-up. The biggest cause for concern remains the pass rush.

THE INJURY REPORT:
The following players are not likely to play on Friday night:

  • WR Sterling Shepard (thumb)
  • OT Brian Mihalik (burner)
  • OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (calf)
  • CB Deandre Baker (knee)
  • CB Sam Beal (hamstring)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
Understandably, almost all of the discussion following the first preseason game was centered on the performance of Daniel Jones, who perfectly completed all five of his passes, including a tight 3rd-and-7 sideline throw and a 12-yard touchdown pass. But stormy weather prevented a larger sample size. The good news is that Jones silenced some of his critics in the short-term. The bad news is that expectations may now be unfairly raised. The naysayers are sure to vocally return with the inevitable inconsistencies and growing pains.

While the first game could not have gone better for Jones, it was far from ideal for the actual starting quarterback, Eli Manning. He only had one pass in one series, and on that throw, he checked down to a very short, 3-yard completion when he had another target open farther down the field on the side he rolled to. A strange 3rd-and-8 draw play brought out the boo-birds.  Then Eli got to listen to the fans roar as Daniel Jones easily drove the first-team offense down the field for a touchdown. From a psychological perspective, Manning is in a very tough spot. Everyone knows the transition is only a matter of time. And with every incompletion or (gasp) interception, the calls for Manning to sit will grow and grow. I don’t find it surprising that Manning lit it up in practice this week. My guess is he sees the writing on the wall and his dander is up.

Beyond the quarterback controversy, to be frank, it’s difficult to judge this offense without its best weapon. Saquon Barkley changes the entire offensive dynamic of this team as both a runner and pass receiver. It would be like watching the 1980s Giants’ defense without Lawrence Taylor playing. So what I am primarily looking at are the various component parts. How does the offensive line block? How much trouble are the Giants in at wide receiver with Golden Tate being suspended for four games? Is there a viable back-up running back on this roster who can spell Barkley?

In their very brief, two-drive action last Thursday, the starting offensive line looked sharp protecting the passer. The run blocking needs work. Outside of the penalties (some ticky tack), what was surprising was how well some of the lesser-known back-ups played. The coaches seemed to have noticed too and it looks like Nick Gates and Chad Slade may be pressing for roster spots as both received first-team reps this week at camp. The bad news is that tackles George Asafo-Adjei and Brian Mihalik are missing valuable playing time with injuries.

On paper, the Giants’ receiving corps appears to be one of the worst in the NFL, especially with Golden Tate now officially out one-quarter of the season. But with Saquon Barkley, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram sitting on the sidelines last week, the no-names actually had a very good game, racking up 20 catches for 323 yards and three touchdowns. Was that a fluke?

Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, and Rod Smith rushed for 34 yards on 15 carries. That’s not getting it done. Barkley is the man, but the Giants need someone else to at least be competent. Perkins in particular had a bad game and if he follows that up with another bad performance, he’s likely out of the picture.

Both Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta had a good game. Right now, Tanney appears to still have the advantage with three games to go.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The first defensive series against the Jets would have been far different had Jabrill Peppers finished his excellent coverage by intercepting Sam Darnold’s first pass. But he didn’t. And the Jets then easily drove for a touchdown on the next five plays. Aside from some coverage issues from safety/cornerback Julian Love, what stood out was the lack of pass rush. This could be the team’s Achilles’ heel in 2019. What we do not want to see is teams continually converting on 3rd-and-long because the Giants can’t get to the quarterback.

The starting defense also took a bit of a blow this week when cornerback Deandre Baker sprained his knee. Hopefully, he will be back soon. He needs the reps in advance of the regular-season opener. While Corey Ballentine has flashed both in camp and the first game, Antonio Hamilton received more of the first-team reps opposite of Janoris Jenkins in practice this week. Meanwhile Sam Beal has missed virtually all of training camp with a nagging hamstring injury. This just goes to show you how multiple injuries at one position can change things overnight. Two names to keep an eye on at back-up safety are Sean Chandler and Kenny Ladler. Both have made some noise.

The Giants actually appear to be in good shape on the defensive line. Starters Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, and Dexter Lawrence are big, strong linemen with good quickness. They are still very young and will get better with playing time. Chris Slayton and John Jenkins were a bit more disruptive than I expected against the Jets. If Olsen Pierre and R.J. McIntosh can show something, this will be a good group.

Linebacker is the focus. Inside, it’s fascinating to see how rapidly Ryan Connelly has moved up the depth chart. With Alec Ogletree not likely to play, Connelly may even start against the Bears. The coaches also seem to prefer the overall athleticism of Tae Davis over B.J. Goodson, who appears to be falling like a rock on the depth chart. He’s in danger of not making the team with Nate Stupar being a core special teams player. I would not also completely discount Jonathan Anderson.

The top four edge guys are Lorenzo Carter, Markus Golden, Kareem Martin, and Oshane Ximines. You see a hint of potential with all four, but they aren’t getting the job done (yet). Get to the quarterback! In the meantime, one has the sense that the coaches are desperately trying to justify keeping Jake Carlock on the roster.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
There is some concern at punter. Riley Dixon wasn’t very good against the Jets. Ryan Anderson has been cut and Johnny Townsend was claimed off of waivers from the Raiders.

T.J. Jones was sure-handed as a punt returner against the Jets, but he didn’t show much quickness and was tackled far too easily. On the other hand, Corey Ballentine did have a 40-yard kickoff return. It will be interesting to see if Darius Slayton and/or Brittan Golden get any reps as returners.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Pat Shurmur on the quarterbacks in this game: “I do plan on playing all four quarterbacks, like I did last week… I’d like to see Eli get a little bit more time. We’ll just see how that plays out. But there’s a chance that (Daniel Jones) could play behind the one (offensive) line.”

THE FINAL WORD:
Pass rush, pass rush, pass rush. Got to get to the quarterback or we’re in for a frustrating year on defense.

Aug 112019
 
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Russell Shepard, New York Giants (August 8, 2019)

Russell Shepard – © USA TODAY Sports

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New York Giants 31 – New York Jets 22

QUICK RECAP

After a busy offseason filled with drama stemming from the trade of star receiver Odell Beckham and the selection of a quarterback at number 6 overall, it was finally time to get down to the important, objective things. Real football against another team. The Giants began their live action against their November 10th opponent, the cross-town rival New York Jets. With several players sitting out because of either protection or injuries or both, this game had a very “backup” feel to it. However these games are the most important part of the evaluation process when it comes to roster decisions. No matter who is on the field or what is going on, there are always multiple players and situations to keep a keen eye on.

The Jets started with the ball and, quite easily, marched down the field for the game’s first score. A Sam Darnold pass to his brand new toy, slot receiver Jamison Crowder, on the drive’s seventh play put Gang Green up 6-0, missing the extra point because of an errant kick by Chandler Catanzaro, his first of two on the night. Eli Manning got one whole drive with the first team offense; a drive that lasted three plays and 4 total yards. The night was clearly planned for the rookie Daniel Jones and his inauguration to NFL game action, and he didn’t disappoint. The first completion of his (preseason) career landed in the hands of Cody Latimer, a simple 5-yard slant to the right side. He then proceeded to fire near-perfect throw after near-perfect throw four more times, the last of which ended up in the hands of Bennie Fowler in the end zone for 6. The night could not have gone better for Jones, albeit in limited action. The storm clouds rolled in and put the game on delay for about an hour, and Head Coach Pat Shurmur decided that Jones had enough for the night.

Alex Tanney came out of the rain delay and hit Russell Shepard on a quick slant to the right and he took it from there. A broken tackle and a foot race, which he won with ease, resulted in a 51-ard touchdown that put the Giants up 14-6. The Jets answered with a touchdown drive of their own, with a Deandre Baker 26-yard pass interference on third down being a key play. Trevor Siemian hit running back Elijah McGuire in the right flat for the score. The two teams traded field goals to end the half and Big Blue led 17-15.

After a shortened halftime (5 minutes), the two teams went scoreless on their first drives respectively. Former Giants 3rd round pick Davis Webb came out for the Jets and threw an interception to, as Pat Shurmur puts it, “the fan favorite within the team” Jake Carlock. Carlock returned it for a 59-yard score and the team absolutely erupted on the sideline like we haven’t seen in quite some time. Webb came back on the next drive and, you guessed it, threw another pick. This time it landed in the arms of Corey Ballentine, the late round draft pick who was shot the same weekend he heard his name called by the Giants. This kid is going to be one of the better stories in the NFL before long, not everyone knows it just yet.

The Giants led 24-15 heading in to the fourth quarter and Kyle Lauletta was now getting his shot to prove he should be the number three guy on the depth chart. He, along with several backup quarterbacks around the league on opening night, put together a solid performance of his own. His highlight of the night was a 31-yard, back-shoulder throw to T.J. Jones for a touchdown. NYG had a commanding 31-15 lead with just over 7:30 left on the clock. Luke Falk, who Adam Gase signed after his former team (MIA) claimed him off waivers last fall, led the longest drive of the night. A 15-play, 7:17 series that ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Greg Dortch, one of the hot names coming out of Jets camp. This, too, was a toss and catch to the right flat (the third one of the night, more on that later).

Giants knelt on the ball with just a few seconds left and walked away with victory number one on the season.

Giants win 31-22.

QUARTERBACKS

-Daniel Jones: 5/5 – 67 yards – 1 TD – 0 INT. This all transpired in one drive and while you won’t hear me overreacting to anything in preseason, it couldn’t have started better. Two key things I see with him on the positive side were accurate ball placement and the athletic/quick release. I am not going to get in to comparing him and Manning just yet, but simply there are things a young, quick-twitched thrower can do that a 15-year veteran cannot.

-Alex Tanney: 14/19 – 190 yards – 1 TD – 0 INT. Tanney played over 50% of the team’s offensive snaps. Shurmur has been touting this kid every opportunity he gets and from the two times I have seen him in practice in combination with tonight’s game, there is something to be happy about. Crisp release and a tight ball, Tanney made a couple big time throws. He can really put some zip on it when he needs to.

-Kyle Lauletta: 9/12 – 116 yards – 1 TD – 0 INT. Gun to my head, Lauletta will be the odd man out when all is said and done after the preseason but he isn’t going to make the decision easy. He kept himself in the conversation with a couple of nicely placed balls, showing accuracy short, intermediate, and long. Job well done for him.

RUNNING BACKS

-Wayne Gallman: 5 att – 13 yards. Personally I don’t think there is any intra-team competition going on for the backup job behind Barkley (who didn’t play). Gallman was on the field for under 20% of the snaps and didn’t really have an opportunity to get going.

-Paul Perkins: 4 att – 9 yards / 2 rec – 8 yards / 1 fumble lost. After missing all of 2018 with a pec injury, the forgotten man (who was this team’s number one back at the start of 2017) had a rough first night back. He continued to show a lack of ability to break tackles, he dropped a pass and most importantly, fumbled the ball that eventually resulted in 3 points for the Jets. The one positive was effective pass protection.

-Rod Smith: 6 att – 12 yards. Nothing stood out from Smith in the game. He is a load and can push the pile, but he looks stiff and lethargic in traffic.

-Jon Hilliman: 2 rec – 16 yards. Hilliman took a nasty helmet-to-knee hit that ended his night early. He didn’t get a ton of time but the coaches have touted him after practice a couple times and I have always liked his north-south mentality. He doesn’t waste time and there is some pop behind his pads. I think there is a chance he can win the number three job.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-The competition for the backup spots will really be something to watch. Alonzo Russell (1 rec – 39 yards) looks like he is the best of the bunch. The sizable, long-strider got behind the defense a couple times but keeps on double-catching the ball. A possession receiver needs to have reliable hands and I am not sold on that aspect of his game yet. Local kid Reggie White, Jr. caught all 4 of his targets for 60 yards, including the best catch of the night where he dove near the sidelines and fully extended for the ball. He has my attention.

-Coaches love veterans because of how reliable they are when it comes to decision-making. Russell Shepard is a step below when it comes to talent compared to some of the younger guys, but his routes are crisp and he rarely drops the ball. His 59-yard touchdown was all him, as he broke up field the instant he grabbed the ball which gave him the angle advantage to burst upfield and outrun the Jets secondary. Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler also offer the veteran presence this team may need at some point. They combined for 4 catches – 56 yards – 1 TD.

-However the name that is continuing to appear on the positive side of the reports is T.J. Jones. He was targeted 6 times and ended with 6 catches for 72 yards, including a 31-yard touchdown pass where he made a great adjustment to the back shoulder with 2 defenders bearing down on him. Jones is playing hungry. The fact he handled all 3 punt returns for NYG strengthens the notion he is a likely candidate to make this team.

TIGHT ENDS

-With Evan Engram on the sideline, Scott Simonson and Rhett Ellison ran with the first and second string. Simonson made solid contact as a blocker. I can tell he added some power to the arsenal. Ellison continued his important, but quiet role with the team. He knows what he is doing out there and plays good assignment football.

-I am interested to see this C.J. Conrad vs. Garrett Dickerson competition should NYG want to keep a fourth tight end. Conrad caught a couple short passes, continuing his “easy hands” outlook and Dickerson caught one himself. There is more speed and twitch to his game.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Nate Solder and Mike Remmers started on the outside with Will Hernandez, Jon Halapio, and Kevin Zeitler manning the inside. That will be the starting five week 1 and it is going to be the best group they have had in a long time. They were on the field for just 11 plays. Solder got pushed around by NYJ linemen Quinnen Williams and Nate Shepherd on a couple of occasions, but other than that I don’t have anything negative to say. I look forward to seeing their snaps increase in the coming weeks.

-Backup tackles Nick Gates and Victor Salako got a lot of playing time, as the second stringers (Chad Wheeler and Brian Mihalik) were sideline with minor injuries.. Gates had a rough night, as he allowed 1 pressure, 1 TFL, and was penalized two times. He is a hustler downfield and plays with a violent style though, but I think he is best suited inside. Salako’s length is a weapon he continues to learn how to use, notably in pass protection. The footwork and balance looks choppy but he had a quiet night, in a good way.

-The interior backups struggled to get a push in the running game. Center Spencer Pulley allowed a TFL, 2 pressures, and was constantly making the backs adjust their initial rushing plans. I don’t think there is a competition for the OC job, Halapio is head and shoulders better. Evan Brown and Chad Slade stood out in pass protection when it came to their anchor in the ground and sticking with their assignments on deep drop backs.

EDGE

-Lorenzo Carter seems to have jumped over Kareem Martin on the depth chart. He and Markus Golden were on the field for 13 snaps. Carter’s offseason of bulk addition while maintaining his speed and explosion is something I discussed last week and I think he is the one guy that could bring this pass rush to the next level. He recorded a TFL. I will be looking for some improvement on post-engagement work from Golden next week.

-Jake Carlock, this year’s energizer bunny, intercepted a pass a returned it for a touchdown. He also recorded 2 tackles and a sack in just 13 plays. He is fighting an uphill battle to make this team but I’ll say this, multiple coaches are going out of their way to praise him, the teammates visibly feed off his energy, and now he is making plays. The pass-rush skill set still has a ways to go when it comes to his technique, but keep on eye on him.

-Oshane Ximines is going to be a part of the edge-rushing arsenal as a rookie, no question. I question the power and pure burst to the edge, but he knows what to do. He can get off contact and his ability to play low while turning the edge can give some blockers a handful. I don’t see big production coming right away, but he can hang.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Dexter Lawrence started off as an inside defender. On two occasions he was washed out by a blocker coming from his outside shoulder. In college he was big and powerful enough to take those unexpected hits and still hold his ground. Not up here. He will need to work on play-reading and awareness. However, in his limited action, it is easy to see how much space he is going to free up for others. Dalvin Tomlinson and B.J. Hill saw a handful of snaps and got into the backfield a couple times. Tomlinson looked quick and assertive, I think we are going to see more attacking-style football from him.

-John Jenkins had a solid game. His pad level gets sloppy but he makes plays and disrupts action at the point-of-attack. He batted a pass down and recorded a TFL.

-Roster hopefuls Terrence Fede and R.J. McIntosh were athletic and aggressive. Fede recorded a sack and McIntosh was pursuing in space like an oversized defensive end. 2018 was a washout for him because of medical reasons. I am glad to see him out there and able to work on the skill set because his tools are there.

-7th rounder Chris Slayton is going to be a factor in 2019. The crowded DL will make it tough for him to get on the field initially, but I think his ability to penetrate and locate the action is a weapon. He recorded a TFL.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree started with Tae Davis. Davis is never going to win a lot of battles with the OL, but his speed and quickness created a lot in this game. He recorded 5 tackles, including 1 TFL where he snuck through a window and cut the angle of the back to the line beautifully.

-The most competition he has for snaps inside? Rookie Ryan Connelly, who may have had the most impressive night of all the team’s defenders. He finished with 5 tackles and was solid in coverage. When you look for quality LB play, most of it comes from instincts and being around the action. That is what I saw out of Connelly all night. Nothing seemed too fast for him. Looking forward to seeing more.

-B.J. Goodson was in with the 3rd stringers. Him and Jonathan Anderson are stout and physical. The question stems from ability in coverage and the ability to stay healthy. They combined for 7 tackles with Anderson also forcing a fumble. Goodson lost a match-up with slot WR Greg Dortch near the end zone which resulted in a touchdown.

CORNERBACKS

-Rookie Deandre Baker started along with Janoris Jenkins. Baker looks like a pro right now, as I think the learning curve with him is going to be minimal. Shurmur uses the word “gamer” when describing him and I couldn’t agree more, as I used that same description in his college scouting report. He was flagged for a deep pass interference, however.

-The main focus of the position was Corey Ballentine. After seeing him in practice a few times and just being impressed by the tool set, I wanted to see what carried over in to the game. While he did get flagged for a downfield pass interference, the ability is still jumping off the screen. He had a wide receiver-caliber interception at the hands of Davis Webb. He attacked the ball with his hands and came down with it. Really impressive play.

SAFETIES

-Jabrill Peppers dropped an interception on the first drive of the game. It was a great defensive play with a solid read and the catch would have been highlight-reel caliber.

-Julian Love started and ranked 3rd on the team in snaps played. He is playing a hybrid nickel/safety role it looks like. He finished with 3 tackles and a pass break up. He lost leverage on the first NYJ touchdown and one could make the argument that the result was on him.

-Kenny Ladler is making his presence felt with a physical presence coming downfield. He made three really nice hits that jarred the ball carrier backward. That is one barometer I look for in a tackler when determining how physical they are; can they knock them back? Ladler passed that test multiple times.

-I watched the All-22, the view from the end zone, and the safeties were solid in deep coverage all night.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-Aldrick Rosas hit a chip shot 23 yard field goal. Punters Riley Dixon and Ryan Anderson shared punting duties.

-Ballentine returned a kick for 40 yards, yet another avenue to get this kid on the active game day roster. T.J. Jones handled 3 punts and totaled 6 yards in return.

3 STUDS

-QB Daniel Jones, OLB Jake Carlock, WR T.J. Jones

3 DUDS

-OC Spencer Pulley, OT Nick Gates, RB Paul Perkins

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-One of the most common plays teams around the league will use when near the end zone is stacking multiple receivers on one side, use an unofficial pick-play, and quickly throw the ball in to the flat. Very hard play to defend. Misdirection combined with quick releases can make it look impossible for defenses to communicate quickly enough. NYJ scored all three of their touchdowns on similar patterns. With the inexperience at CB with Baker and S with Love, you can bet that will be noted by future opponents.

-Obviously coaches need to be guarded with what they say to the media. But I do find it odd that Shurmur will not openly commit to Manning being the number one guy when it comes to regular season play. This guy’s livelihood is on the line and there is a part of me that thinks Jones can be in the mix for week 1 more than some think. Odds are Eli is the guy, I know. But I don’t think the 100% commitment has been made yet.

-I was hoping to see more out of Nate Solder. He got a bit of a pass with me in 2018 because of the ongoing neck issue that quietly hampered him. However he doesn’t play nearly as powerful as he looks. It almost looks like the natural leverage disadvantage he has with his height is enabling him to get pushed around. The OL looks to be much improved, but we’ve seen around the league that if the LT is a weak link, it can destroy a passing game.

Aug 082019
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (August 8, 2019)

Daniel Jones – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 31 – NEW YORK JETS 22…
The New York Giants soundly defeated the New York Jets 31-22 in the first preseason game of the year for both teams. The game was elongated by a 60-minute, first-half storm delay. But the three back-up quarterbacks on the Giants shined, cumulatively completing 28-of-36 passes for 373 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Saquon Barkley and tight end Evan Engram were healthy scratches from the contest.

The game started off poorly for the Giants with the Jets’ first-team offense easily driving the length of the field, going 75 yards in seven plays for a touchdown (the extra point was missed). Safety Jabrill Peppers had a chance to stop the drive early but a potential interception sailed through his hands. The Giants’ offense followed that up with a disappointing three-and-out by the starting offense, led by quarterback Eli Manning.

The game began to turn after those first two series. The Giants’ defense forced a three-and-out against back-up quarterback Trevor Siemian of the Jets. On the Giants’ second offensive possession, quarterback Daniel Jones took over and impressively drove the Giants for a touchdown with pinpoint passing, going 5-of-5 for 67 yards. The drive culminated with a 12-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Bennie Fowler. Giants 7 – Jets 6.

The Giants’ defense then forced another three-and-out. But before Jones could come back on the field, the game was delayed 60 minutes due to the weather. When the teams finally returned to the field, both teams sat their starters and important reserves because of the delay. Jones was done for the night.

Alex Tanney took over at quarterback for the Giants and promptly led the team to its second scoring drive. Tanney threw a 14-yard completion to wide receiver T.J. Jones on 3rd-and-10. Two plays later, he connected with wide receiver Russell Shepard on a 51-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown. Giants 14 – Jets 6.

The Jets responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 7-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-1 to cut the score to 14-12 (the extra point was missed again). After both teams exchanged punts, running back Paul Perkins fumbled the ball away at the Giants’ 16-yard line after a short completion. The Jets converted this turnover into a 34-yard field goal and a 15-14 lead.

With 1:41 left before halftime, Tanney led the Giants on an 8-play, 70-yard drive to set up a 23-yard field goal. At the half, the Giants led 17-15.

Much of the 3rd quarter was taken up by two Giants’ and one Jets’ drive that did not result in points. With about 4:30 left in the quarter, linebacker Jake Carlock batted a pass from ex-Giants’ quarterback Davis Webb, intercepted his own deflection, and returned the pick for a 59-yard touchdown. Giants 24 – Jets 15.

Cornerback Corey Ballentine made an excellent leaping interception on the next series. After an exchange of punts, quarterback Kyle Lauletta led the Giants on a 10-play, 86-yard drive in the 4th quarter that ended with a 31-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver T.J. Jones. Lauletta made two crucial 3rd-down completions on this drive before the touchdown on 3rd-and-7. Giants 31 – Jets 15.

The final Jets’ score came in garbage time, with the Jets driving 75 yards in 15 plays.

On offense, Manning finished 1-of-1 for 3 yards, Jones 5-of-5 for 67 yards and a touchdown, Tanney 14-of-19 for 190 yards and a touchdown, and Lauletta 9-of-12 for 116 yards and a touchdown. The leading receivers were T.J. Jones with 6 catches for 72 yards and Reggie White, Jr. with 4 catches for 60 yards. Giants’ running backs only rushed for 24 yards.

Defensively, the Giants picked off two passes. They also had two sacks but had issues rushing the passer.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
WR Sterling Shepard (thumb), WR Darius Slayton (hamstring), WR Brittan Golden (groin), WR Amba Etta-Tawo (hamstring), OT Chad Wheeler (back), OT Brian Mihalik (burner), OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion), LB Avery Moss (hip flexor), CB Grant Haley (shoulder), CB Antonio Hamilton (groin), and CB Sam Beal (hamstring) did not play.

RB Jon Hilliman left the game with a concussion.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur will address the media by conference call on Friday. The players are off on Saturday and return to training camp practice on Sunday.

ARTICLES…

Aug 072019
 
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Evan Engram, New York Giants (December 30, 2018)

Evan Engram – © USA TODAY Sports

Preseason Game Preview: New York Jets at New York Giants, August 8, 2019

THE STORYLINE:
A year ago, it was just becoming more transparent that Dave Gettleman and Pat Shurmur intended to completely overturn the roster. But the level of roster gutting and transformation in just a year and a half has been truly startling. Even “foundation” draft picks such as Odell Beckham, Jr., Landon Collins, Eli Apple, and Ereck Flowers are gone as well as expensive free agent acquisitions Damon Harrison and Olivier Vernon. Hardly anyone is left from just two seasons ago.

What’s clear is that Gettleman and Shurmur didn’t like the way the old team was put together, both in terms of talent (or lack thereof) and personality. On paper, the Giants have gotten bigger and more physical up front on both sides of the ball. For the first time in almost a decade, there is an air of competency on the offensive line with the veteran additions of Nate Solder, Kevin Zeitler, and Mike Remmers, plus the drafting of Will Hernandez. While there remain concerns about the pass rush, few teams can field an imposing trio on the defensive line such as B.J. Hill, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Dexter Lawrence. Aside from B.J. Goodson and Janoris Jenkins, the linebacking corps and secondary has been completely replaced.

The Giants are going old school. They will run the football and stop the run. The passing game is likely to focus on play-action and the short- to intermediate-game. The defense will be young and will have to grow up quickly for the team to surprise.

We all know what the last element to the complete transition will be: the handing off of the reins to Daniel Jones. As long as the Giants remain in the playoff hunt, Eli Manning is likely to remain the starter. But if this team falls out of contention again by October or November, it won’t make much sense to prolong the inevitable.

THE INJURY REPORT:
The following players are not likely to play on Thursday night:

  • WR Sterling Shepard (thumb)
  • WR Darius Slayton (hamstring)
  • WR Brittan Golden (groin)
  • OT Chad Wheeler (back)
  • OT Brian Mihalik (burner)
  • OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion)
  • LB Avery Moss (unknown)
  • CB Grant Haley (shoulder)
  • CB Sam Beal (hamstring)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
I say the same thing every year: the first preseason game is usually nothing more than a glorified scrimmage. Don’t place too much emphasis – either bad or good – on the outcome. Some starters will not play, and those that do won’t play long. Personally, I wouldn’t even dress Saquon Barkley. And this team is a much different animal without Saquon in the lineup. The Giants have been easing both offensive tackles, Nate Solder and Mike Remmers, into service since both are coming off of offseason surgery. The bad news for the entire back-up offense is that the top two-back tackles – Brian Mihalik and Chad Wheeler – are out. So is George Asafo-Adjei, who is probably the next best guy. The Jets should feast on third teamers much of the night. I’d be shocked if the offense looks sharp. Daniel Jones will probably have flashbacks to his University of Duke days, running for his life. New York Jets’ Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams tends treat the preseason like the playoffs and will probably be gunning for bear.

All eyes will be on Jones. I hope the back-up line can give him something of a ground game and buy him some time, but I doubt it. The Giants will be forced to play some second- and third-string guards at tackle. What I will be looking at is his presence, poise, and arm strength, particularly on throws outside the hashmarks. If it is a constant jailbreak up front, it will be difficult to get a good read on him. Alex Tanney and Kyle Lauletta may be in the same boat. I will tell you this… I’d be tempted to sit Eli Manning in the first game just so Daniel Jones can have his initial reps behind the starting unit. Eli doesn’t really need to play in this game.

Giants’ fans know the top two wide receivers will be Sterling Shepard (broken thumb) and Golden Tate (possible 4-game suspension). It is assumed by most that Bennie Fowler, Cody Latimer, Russell Shepard, Alonzo Russell, T.J. Jones, and Da’Mari Scott are journeymen and castoffs on one of the worst wide-receiving units in the NFL. They may be right. At the same time, each of these guys has flashed during practices. Could a guy like Fowler or Jones surprise everyone? Rookie Darius Slayton won’t play, but Reggie White, Jr. has flashed at times.

The Giants need Evan Engram to stay healthy and produce this year like he did late last season. Behind him, Rhett Ellison is steady but unspectacular. Much of my focus will be on Scott Simonson and C.J. Conrad since both may be better suited as true tight ends in a run-first offense. I still think the Giants will carry four tight ends this year.

Given the state of the back-up offensive line, the back-up running backs will probably suffer a similar fate as the back-up quarterbacks in this game. That said, there is a good battle brewing behind Saquon Barkley between Wayne Gallman, Paul Perkins, and Rod Smith. All three are not guaranteed to make the roster and all are fighting to be the primary back-up.

On the line, I’m not sure what the Giants will do after the starters leave the game. Undrafted rookie Paul Adams may see the bulk of the action at left tackle. With three other back-up tackles out, no-name guards will have to be shifted outside. Giants fans will be saying to themselves, “Who the heck are Victor Salako, Evan Brown, Nick Gates, and Chad Slade?!?”

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
For good reason, the Giants’ hierarchy has blown up the team’s defense. Not only did the team shift to a completely different 3-4 scheme in 2018, but almost all of the pre-2018 players are gone. All three levels of the defense have been almost completely revamped. The main challenge here is the learning curve. This is a very young defense with many new component parts. Cohesion and chemistry will be lacking. In a league where one mental mistake can easily lead to a long touchdown, the Giants will need the youth to grow up quickly.

On the defensive line, it was assumed that Dexter Lawrence would be the team’s new nose tackle. While Lawrence may see snaps at that spot, it appears James Bettcher would prefer to have B.J. Hill and Lawrence outside in the 3- and 5-technique spots with Dalvin Tomlinson playing the nose. Teams should have trouble running on these three as long as the linebackers and defensive backs maintain their gap responsibilities. Hill surprised with his pass rush last year and if he can build upon that, that would be huge in terms of addressing pass rush concerns. What will be fascinating to see is if Dexter Lawrence can provide any sort of pass-rush presence. He’s probably the only 340-pound “defensive end” in the League. There is not much depth behind these three with only six other players on the current training camp roster. I will be focusing much attention on back-ups R.J. McIntosh and Olsen Pierre. The Giants also need to decide if John Jenkins or Chris Slayton is the better back-up nose tackle candidate. Overall, my hope is that Lawrence-Tomlinson-Hill provide more inside bull-rush/quickness pressure than most teams are accustomed to and press the pocket up the gut and/or free others to take advantage of the chaos they cause.

All eyes will be focused on the outside edge rushers, particularly Lorenzo Carter, Markus Golden, and Oshane Ximines. If the Giants can’t get a pass rush out of two or three of these guys, they will likely be in trouble. Golden has done it before, but has to prove he is past his torn ACL. Carter has earned good reviews in camp, but he has to prove it when the games count. Ximines is the wild card. Inside, it appears that Bettcher has officially delineated between a typical “inside linebacker” and “money backer” – with both being formally identified on the team’s depth chart. The starting insider linebacker is Alec Ogletree with B.J. Goodson backing him up. Bettcher wants more of a linebacker/safety hybrid at the other spot, hence Tae Davis appears to have the starting nod with rookie Ryan Connelly backing him up. Whatever they decide to do, the Giants have been unable to cover tight ends down the middle for almost a decade now. And that’s scary considering Philadelphia is still in the division. Enough is enough.

Wow, did the Giants change the secondary in the offseason! Last year, it was Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins, and a host of journeymen no-names. Enter Deandre Baker, Julian Love, Corey Ballentine, Jabrill Peppers, and Antoine Bethea. Also factor in Sam Beal, who spent his rookie season on IR. Now the Giants have three new starters, including both safeties. One gets the sense that Bettcher wants Peppers to be the centerpiece of his defense. The coaches quickly gave Baker the starting job in the spring. Love has been spending time both at back-up nickel corner and safety. One of the stars of training camp is Ballentine, who may press for serious playing time. This unit has mix of veterans (Jenkins, Bethea, and Thomas) and green-as-grass youth. It will be interesting to see them develop. Potentially, the Giants could be set in the secondary for many years. But 2019 will likely be a year of growing pains.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
We’ve heard virtually nothing about how Pro Bowl kicker Aldrick Rosas has done in training camp. Let’s hope that 2018 was the start of a wonderful career and not a fluke. Riley Dixon is facing competition from Ryan Anderson. Is it serious?

Losing Corey Coleman for the year was a big blow to the return game. Right now, Cody Latimer, T.J. Jones, and Corey Ballentine are listed as the kickoff returners. Ballentine had success in college returning kickoffs.

In two NFL seasons, Jabrill Peppers has returned 55 punts with seven fumbles (a fumble every eight times he touches the ball). He had better clean that up if Shurmur really wants him to be the primary punt returner. In addition, while his 7.3 yards per return is respectable, I’m not sure it justifies the risk of having him return punts unless he starts breaking more. Golden Tate and T.J. Jones are also both listed as punt returners. Jones has averaged 9.2 yards per punt return in four seasons. Tate really hasn’t done much punt returning since 2015.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Pat Shurmur on the first preseason game: “The guys that are playing in this game, we want to see them block, tackle, run, throw, catch, all of the things. It’s going to be less about match-ups and more about execution from that standpoint… There are some healthy guys that have been practicing that you may not see Thursday. ”

THE FINAL WORD:
I think this team will be more fun to watch this year. I just don’t think we’ll see it on Thursday night.