Aug 312019
 
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Spencer Pulley, New York Giants (August 29, 2019)

Spencer Pulley – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 31 – New England Patriots 29

QUICK RECAP

Preseason game number 4. The point where coaches have made most of their roster decisions and are now hoping for no serious injuries to their backups and rotational players. The Giants headed to New England to face off against the Patriots, as per usual, in the final game prior to the regular season. The Giants kept their starters on the bench for this one, giving roster hopefuls a shot at showing what they can do with an extended amount of snaps.

The Patriots, led by rookie Jarrett Stidham, marched down the field and put NE up 3-0 after the first drive. He had Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Demaryius Thomas running routes and catching balls for him. If this were 2013, that could have passed for the best WR trio in the NFL. It was a good, true test for the youthful NYG defensive backs to be up against such established pass catchers even though they are past their primes.

Daniel Jones started for NYG, pulling an Eli Manning and staying out there for just one series. He remained near-perfect on the preseason, going 4/4 and 47 yards. The fact that Shurmur pulled him after one series has to tell you something.

The Giants forced a turnover via pressure from Jake Ceresna, which caused an errant pass by Stidham, landing in the arms of safety Sean Chandler. With Alex Tanney at the helm on ensuing drive, it took just two plays for NYG to reach the end zone. A perfectly thrown ball to Alonzo Russell gave them the 35-yard score, putting Big Blue up 7-3. It didn’t take long for the Giants to get the ball back, one play actually. A poor exchange on an attempted reverse resulted in the ball being put on the ground, which was recovered by Keion Adams. The Giants turned that turnover in 3 points, giving them a 10-3 lead as the first quarter came to an end.

With the all-2013 wide receiver group still in, Stidham was able to get the NE offense back on track, hitting Thomas for a 35-yard score. After a NYG three-and-out, Stidham again hit Thomas, this time for a 3-yard score and all of the sudden NE was up 16-10. Things were getting ugly for the NYG offense via penalties and eventually an interception by Tanney. It was the first of two INTs by Tanney on the night.

The Patriots offense took over the rest of the first half and entered halftime with a commanding 29-10 lead. The Giants offense couldn’t convert on 3rd down and the Pats offense was continuing to play their simple but efficient style of football.

Kyle Lauletta came out under center to start off the second half and led a nice resurgence. He was on the money for the rest of the night and led this team to within striking distance. Despite several dropped balls and some of his targets going down with lower body injuries, he looked very smooth and efficient. He threw a perfect deep pass to Scott Simonson for his first of two touchdowns. Wayne Gallman, who saw the most preseason action of the year, scored a physical 6-yard touchdown and Aldrick Rosas hit a 27-yard field goal.

The Giants defense came up with several key stops and applied a lot of pressure from the middle of the line. John Jenkins and Ceresna were standouts.

The dramatic finish had NYG facing a 29-25 deficit with 4 seconds remaining. Lauletta, who was dominant on 3rd down all night, was in his highest-pressure situation of the night, one play left from the NE 14-yard line. He hit Russell for the touchdown as time expired to complete the 19-point comeback and 21 unanswered points.

Giants win 31-29 and end the preseason a perfect 4-0.

QUARTERBACKS

-Starter Eli Manning didn’t play in this one, giving Jones his first unofficial start of his career. He was able prepare for the game as the number one guy on the depth chart all week, another check mark on the QB progression list. Jones had a quick night, just one series, and completed all 4 of his attempts. Two of those completions were to Golden Tate, a combo we are sure to see later in the year. Jones has a superb preseason and instilled as much confidence as one can during preseason action.

-Alex Tanney had a night to forget while Kyle Lauletta had arguably his best half as a Giant. The former went 4/12 – 1 TD – 2 INT, while the latter went led a 19-point comeback, going 22/40 – 247 yards – 2 TD. He was also the victim of multiple drops and could have easily wound up over 300 yards, in just one half. Perhaps the most impressive part of his game was the performance on 3rd and 4th down. He went 12/15-166 yards-2 TD. It was truly dominant.

RUNNING BACKS

-Paul Perkins ended the preseason strong with two straight strong weeks. He rushed for 54 yards on 11 carries, displaying outstanding ability in space to miss tacklers and gain yards after contact. Still not a good between the tackles runner who can push piles, though.

-Wayne Gallman added 29 yards on 7 carries to go along with 3 receptions for 24 yards. His 6-yard touchdown run caught me by surprise with how physically he finished it off and pushed multiple defenders into the end zone. I was surprised to see him get so much action late in the game, but I’m glad he did. It is important for running backs to knock heads a few times in live action before the season starts.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Long-winded night for the likes of Alonzo Russell, Reggie White Jr., and T.J. Jones. It was the most they all played during preseason and you could tell it impacted their performance late in the game. Russell was the star of the group, going 5-92-2 on an amazing 15 targets. Some analysts who are overly-obsessive about numbers will tell you that was an inefficient game, but Russell all but stamped his name onto the roster. He ran good routes, he tracked the ball well, and made physical catches. With the uncertainty at WR early in the year, he will get his shot. He did, however, drop a pass and another one on a 2-point conversion.

-T.J. Jones hobbled off the field a couple times, the second appearing more serious. He has had a few issues staying healthy and even though I think his versatility can land him a roster spot, I’m not sold he has a spot locked in.

TIGHT ENDS

-Scott Simonson, whom has had a problem with drops this preseason, made arguably the best catch of his Giants career on a 27-yard touchdown. He got downfield in a hurry and made a diving grab. Unfortunately, he injured his ankle on the play and had to be carted off. As of typing the review, no final result has been publicized but it didn’t look good.

-C.J. Conrad stepped up and had a nice game in the trenches. Very stifling blocker who rarely gets beat. He has been a consistent player all preseason and continued to show he can catch the ball when it is thrown his way as well. Jake Powell got some extra action after the injury, catching three passes and dropping another.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-As I have been saying all preseason, the NYG second-string offensive line is the best it has been in quite some time, most notably on the right side. Chad Slade and Nick Gates are playing powerfully and balanced. Their footwork has been on point and both play a violent game with their hands.

-Really rough game for left tackle Brian Mihalik. He was flagged 3 times, gave up 2 pressures and allowed 1 TFL. He may win the backup left tackle job by default unless this team thinks Gate or Slade can handle it, which I would prefer.

-Evan Brown and James O’Hagan both struggled to contain the NE interior defenders. They got minimal push, if anything. There appeared to be some miscommunication on blitzes as well.

DEFENSIVE LINE

-Really active game from R.J. McIntosh and that is a word that keeps coming up every time I watch him. He gets off the ball fast and there is plenty of quick-twitch reaction and movement to his game.

-One of my NYG favorites of the preseason has been Jake Ceresna. I first noticed him in practice and then he popped up a few times in the games. He saved his best effort for last, as he finished with 2 TFL, 1 sack, and 2 pressures. This kid still has some developing to do, but the second-year undrafted free agent has done everything a back end roster player can do to make a spot for himself on the practice squad.

-John Jenkins had 2 tackles and a sack. He has really improved his quickness and game speed since coming into the league from Georgia back in 2013. The former 3rd round pick makes me feel good about the depth on the interior of this defensive line.

LINEBACKERS

-B.J. Goodson is proving he belongs on this team and can make an impact when called upon. I won’t bang the table for him to start (yet) because he isn’t the ideal schematic fit, but this guy needs to make the team. He is a tackling machine and plays with a lot of speed. He finished with a team high 6 tackles in addition to a sack. He also showed some solid downfield coverage on two occasions.

-There may be a quiet roster battle going on between Josiah Tauaefa and Nate Stupar. The latter is a leader on special teams but the former has been making plays when he gets on the field. Really fast reaction and sure tackling in addition to fitting the scheme well. Interested to see what happens there.

-Avery Moss is likely to get another shot here in 2019, but I think Jake Carlock has earned the right to take his roster spot. He had a sack taken away by a defensive hold and we have already noted the energy he brings to the table every play. Moss just doesn’t seem to have it.

CORNERBACKS

Terrell Sinkfield got beat up by the savvy veteran Demaryius Thomas. He continues to show a lack of ability to track and locate the ball. He has an impressive physical package but the skill set is inconsistent. Henre’ Toliver got some good experience in as well against the rusty but still effective Josh Gordon. His results were a bit more mixed, as he did flash here and there.

-Ronald Zamort had arguably his best performance of the preseason as he makes a push for a roster spot or a practice squad allocation. He broke up 2 passes early on.

SAFETIES

-Sean Chandler intercepted a pass and broke up 2 others. He is the one guy who I think this coaching staff really likes, as he can play multiple roles back there and has a knack for the ball.

-Solid game for Julian Love, who I loved coming out of Notre Dame but even I am surprised by how quickly he seems to have taken in both S and CB roles. Smart player who showed a physical side in this one. His future can be wherever this team needs him most, a really valuable asset.

SPECIAL TEAMS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 2/2 (Made 32 and 27). Perfect on the preseason.

-P Riley Dixon and P Johnny Townsend continued to split duties with the latter outperforming the former yet again.

3 STUDS

-QB Kyle Lauletta, WR Alonzo Russell, LB B.J. Goodson

3 DUDS

-OT Brian Mihalik, CB Terrell Sinkfield, QB Alex Tanney

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-Now comes the most active day of the personnel/team building year. At the time this is posted, several cuts may already have been made. Before you get surprised by anything both with the NYG and around the league, just consider there is a lot of information we don’t have access to when it comes to the “why”? Money, undisclosed injuries, schematic needs…etc.

-If there is one guy I really want NYG to keep around, it is B.J. Goodson. If he an stay healthy and readily available, I think he can be a difference maker in the middle especially with what they have up front along the defensive line. He has holes in coverage, but I think he has shown improvement there and the attitude he brings as a run defender elevates the physicality of this defense.

-When it comes to my outlook of the 2019 season, I have to say I have leaned more towards being optimistic. Much more so than last year, anyway. There is something to this team and the way they come together. Nobody is walking around like they are bigger than everyone else. The team is relatively healthy. The trenches are strong. There are legitimate concerns at a few spots, namely the pass rush, but I think this team will be in the wild card hunt for most, if not all of the season.

Aug 302019
 
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Alonzo Russell, New York Giants (August 29, 2019)

Alonzo Russell – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 31 – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 29…
The New York Giants finished their 2019 preseason with a perfect 4-0 record after defeating the New England Patriots 31-29 in a dramatic come-from-behind victory on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Trailing 29-25 with four seconds left, quarterback Kyle Lauletta threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Alonzo Russell with no time left on the clock for the win. Although the Giants sat half their team, including virtually all starters, the game was a bit costly in that at least six Giants left the field with injuries and did not return (see injury report below).

The Patriots also sat the bulk of their starters except they did decide to play receivers such as Julian Edelman, Demaryius Thomas, and Josh Gordon against a New York Giants defense that fielded a mix of second, third, and fourth teamers. The Patriots put together a 10-play, 62-yard drive to start the game that ended with a 31-yard field goal.

With Daniel Jones at the helm for his only drive of the night, the Giants moved the ball 62 yards down to the Patriots’ 13-yard line but were stuffed on 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1, turning the ball over on downs. Jones was a perfect 4-of-4 on the drive for 47 yards. The Giants got the ball back when DE Jake Ceresna hit the Patriots’ quarterback Jarrett Stidham as he threw, leading to an easy interception by safety Sean Chandler who returned the football to the New England 37-yard line. Two plays later, quarterback Alex Tanney threw a 35-yard touchdown pass to Alonzo Russell. The Giants immediately got the ball back again when the Patriots botched a handoff and linebacker Keion Adams recovered at the Patriots’ 14-yard line. The Giants could not move the ball, however, and settled for a 32-yard field goal. Giants 10 – Patriots 3.

The second quarter was a disaster for the Giants. With Tanney at the helm, New York’s five possessions in the quarter resulted in one first down, three punts, and two interceptions. Meanwhile, the Patriots scored on five of their six possessions, including three touchdown drives and two field goals. New England scored 26 unanswered points to go up 29-10 at the half. 3rd/4th string cornerbacks Ronald Zamort, Henre’ Tolliver, and Terrell Sinkfield had issues covering veteran receivers such as Demaryius Thomas and Josh Gordon.

The script completely flipped in the second half with Kyle Lauletta now starting at quarterback. Jarrett Stidham no longer was throwing to top receivers and the Patriots’ four second half possession ended with three first downs, three punts, and a turnover on downs, the latter occurring when New England was trying to run out the clock. Meanwhile, Lauletta and the Giants’ offense scored four times in five drives, including three touchdowns and a field goal.

The first drive, a 12-play, 66-yard effort, resulted in a 27-yard field goal after wide receiver Reggie White, Jr. dropped what should have been a 9-yard touchdown pass. On the next drive Lauletta threw a 27-yard touchdown pass down the seam to a diving tight end Scott Simonson on 3rd-and-2. Unfortunately, Simonson seriously injured his ankle on the play. Alonzo Russell could not bring in the 2-point conversion attempt and the Giants trailed 29-19. The Giants scored another touchdown on their next possession (8 plays, 42 yards) on a tough 6-yard run by running back Wayne Gallman. The two-point attempt failed again and the Giants now trailed 29-25.

After New England’s third punt in three possessions, the Giants drove from their 24-yard line to the New England 33. However, the drive ended when Lauletta’s 4th-and-3 pass to wide receiver T.J. Jones was dropped. Jones was also injured on this play and did not return.

With 6:27 left in the game, the Patriots picked up two first downs and ran over four minutes off of the clock before turning the ball over on downs at the Giants’ 30-yard line when defensive lineman John Jenkins sacked Stidham on 4th-and-4.

The Giants got the ball with 2:16 left and were pushed back to their own 23-yard line when Lauletta was sacked on the first play of the drive. But Lauletta and the Giants methodically moved the ball down the field, converting on 3rd-and-6, 2nd-and-15, 3rd-and-10, and 4th-and-6. With only four seconds left on the clock, Lauletta threw a 14-yard, walk-off touchdown throw to Alonzo Russell to win the game. The Giants had scored 21 unanswered points despite not kicking one extra point and missing two 2-point conversions.

Jones completed 4-of-4 passes for 47 yards. Tanney completed only 4-of-12 passes for 53 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Lauletta completed 22-of-40 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns. Alonzo Russell was the leading receiver with five catches (on 15 targets) for 92 yards and two touchdowns. Paul Perkins carried the ball 11 times for 54 yards and Wayne Gallman carried the ball seven times for 29 yards and a touchdown.

Defensively, linebacker B.J. Goodson, defensive end Jake Ceresna, and nose tackle John Jenkins all had sacks. Linebacker Keion Adams recovered a fumble and safety Sean Chandler had an interception.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT AND HEALTHY SCRATCHES…
RB Rod Smith (adductor), WR Sterling Shepard (thumb), WR Darius Slayton (hamstring), WR Alex Wesley (ankle), TE Garrett Dickerson (quad), OT Chad Wheeler (back), OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion), LB Alec Ogletree (calf), CB Antonio Hamilton (groin), CB Sam Beal (hamstring) and S Kenny Ladler (hamstring) did not play.

WR T.J. Jones (ankle?), WR Brittan Golden (calf), TE Scott Simonson (ankle), LB Keion Adams (knee), LB Nate Stupar (concussion), and CB Ronald Zamort (ankle) all left the game with injuries and did not return. Simonson left the locker room on crutches and wearing a boot on his left foot.

QB Eli Manning, RB Saquon Barkley, WR Cody Latimer, WR Benny Fowler, WR Russell Shepard, TE Evan Engram, TE Rhett Ellison, OG Kevin Zeitler, OG Will Hernandez, OT Mike Remmers, OT Nate Solder, OC Jon Halapio, NT Dalvin Tomlinson, DE B.J. Hill, DE Dexter Lawrence, DE Olsen Pierre, LB Markus Golden, LB Lorenzo Carter, LB Tae Davis, LB Kareem Martin, LB Oshane Ximines, CB Janoris Jenkins, CB Deandre Baker, CB Grant Haley, CB Corey Ballentine, S Jabrill Peppers, S Antoine Bethea, S Michael Thomas, and LS Zak DeOssie were healthy scratches.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available at Giants.com:

  • Head Coach Pat Shurmur (Video)
  • RB Paul Perkins (Video)
  • WR Golden Tate (Video)
  • WR Alonzo Russell (Video)

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Head Coach Pat Shurmur and select players will address the media by conference call on Friday. The players are off on Saturday and Sunday and return to practice on Monday. The Giants must reduce their roster to 53 players on Saturday.

Aug 282019
 
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Oshane Ximines, New York Giants (August 22, 2019)

Oshane Ximines – © USA TODAY Sports

Preseason Game Preview: New York Giants at New England Patriots, August 29, 2019

THE STORYLINE:
The primary goals of the final preseason game are (1) get out as healthy as possible, and (2) make final determinations on roster spots. We already know Eli Manning won’t play. Saquon Barkley is surely a healthy scratch and most starters won’t play or will barely play. Knock on wood, but the Giants have thus far made it through the summer without any serious injuries other than Corey Coleman. That said, the injury report (see below) is fairly long and quite a few players who would have benefited from playing in this game will not play.

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

  • RB Rod Smith (adductor)
  • WR Golden Tate (concussion)
  • WR Sterling Shepard (thumb)
  • WR Darius Slayton (hamstring)
  • WR Alex Wesley (ankle)
  • TE Garrett Dickerson (quad)
  • OT Chad Wheeler (back)
  • OT George Asafo-Adjei (concussion)
  • LB Alec Ogletree (calf)
  • CB Antonio Hamilton (groin)
  • CB Sam Beal (hamstring)
  • S Kenny Ladler (hamstring)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
It is believed that the offense will be the stronger side of the ball once the regular season starts. Eli Manning has had a strong summer. He has  his best offensive line in almost a decade. The Giants arguably have the best running back in football. Evan Engram can be a real match-up problem for safeties and linebackers. On paper, the wide-receiving corps looks weak and lacks a dynamic deep threat, but they may benefit from the threat of Barkley and Engram.

Manning won’t play on Thursday. Depending on what transpires during the next three months, this may be the final time we see Daniel Jones in a game until August 2020. Don’t take this the wrong way, but he’s due for a “bad game.” Right now, his overall numbers are insane: 25-of-30 (83.3 percent completion rate) for 369 yards and two touchdowns. That’s a 140.1 quarterback rating! That can’t continue. But if he has a decent game on Thursday, his rookie preseason has to be considered a tremendous success.

In terms of the pecking order, Alex Tanney still officially the 3rd-string quarterback with Kyle Lauletta pulling up the rear. Do the Giants carry three quarterbacks? If so, do they part ways already with their 4th-round pick in last year’s draft?

Saquon Barkley is the starter. Wayne Gallman is the back-up. Although he has only touched the ball once this preseason, Elijhaa Penny is the only back on the roster with fullback blocking skills. “I’m very fond of (Penny) because he’s one of the people in this building that, in my opinion, has never had a bad day,” said Pat Shurmur last week. “He’s a little bit of an inspiration to me because he just keeps going. He loves the game and he keeps playing. He’s done some good stuff for us.” Perhaps I’m falling for false praise, but I think he makes it. On the other hand, none of the other backs really impresses me. Paul Perkins has flashed catching the ball, but he plays small. I would not be shocked to see the Giants just carry three backs again. Or perhaps pick someone up off of the waiver wire.

Wide receiver is a bit convoluted because of Golden Tate’s suspension and nagging injuries to Sterling Shepard (thumb) and Darius Slayton (hamstring). Tate will start the season off of the 53-man roster on the suspended list. They won’t IR Slayton because of a hamstring. They will likely carry him on the 53-man roster and hold him inactive for a few weeks on game day. Sterling Shepard should be fine. I originally thought the Giants may only carry five wideouts but now I’m leaning towards six. Until Tate gets back, Cody Latimer and Bennie Fowler will see a lot of playing time. T.J. Jones was only signed when camp started, but he has surprisingly performed well and has veteran starting experience. Unless the Giants carry seven wideouts, that leaves only one spot for Russell Shepard (very good special teams player), Alonzo Russell (good size and has flashed), and Brittan Golden (special teams return ability and has flashed in passing game). I think they go with Russell Shepard. Look for at least one of these guys and Reggie White, Jr. to end up on the Practice Squad.

Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison remain the top two tight ends. But do the Giants carry three or four? Shurmur has praised C.J. Conrad’s blocking. Garrett Dickerson has flashed as a receiver, but is hurt by the fact he probably won’t play in this game. Scott Simonson can block, but he hasn’t helped his cause with some dropped passes.

We know who the starters are. It will be interesting to see if they play a series or two on Thursday with Daniel Jones. Interestingly, Nick Gates and Chad Slade came out of nowhere and seem to have elevated themselves as the primary OL back-ups other than Spencer Pulley. That’s eight; the Giants may keep nine. It was expected that Chad Wheeler (slowed by back issues) and Brian Mihalik (slowed by burner) would have been in the mix, but they may now be both outside looking in. George Asafo-Adjei’s summer was wrecked by a concussion and he is likely headed to IR.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The defense is expected to be the weak spot on the 2019 New York Giants. We shall see. The prevailing narrative is that they should be tough to run on (inconsistent evidence of this in the preseason), have issues rushing the passer (confirmed during the preseason), and field a green secondary that will screw up but get better as the year progresses.

Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, and Dexter Lawrence are the starters up front. They will be backed up by R.J. McIntosh and Olsen Pierre. Probably the only real battle here is John Jenkins versus Chris Slayton if the Giants only carry six defensive linemen.

The outside linebackers will be Lorenzo Carter, Markus Golden, Kareem Martin, and Oshane Ximines. The Giants are probably hoping Jake Carlock makes it to the Practice Squad. Inside, Alec Ogletree, Tae Davis, and Ryan Connelly are the sure bets. The tea leaves suggest the Giants are going to mistakenly keep Nate Stupar over B.J. Goodson. Josiah Tauaefa might end up on the Practice Squad.

Sam Beal missed both of his first two training camps. Like Darius Slayton, I think the Giants will carry him on the 53-man roster and keep him inactive until his hamstring is better (he’s finally doing individual drills). Deandre Baker’s knee injury and Antonio Hamilton’s groin injury has also complicated the picture. Based on the preseason pecking order, the coaches obviously like Hamilton more than most fans had expected.

Janoris Jenkins and Deandre Baker will be the starting corners with Grant Haley being the slot corner. Corey Ballentine will make the team, as well as Beal and Hamilton. That makes six. I think the Giants will keep four safeties. Jabrill Peppers and Antoine Bethea will start. Michael Thomas and Julian Love will be the back-ups. I don’t see a spot for Sean Chandler or Kenny Ladler unless the Giants carry 11 defensive backs.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
It’s pretty clear the coaches are not happy with the punting situation. The team will probably be scouring the waiver wire. The Corey Coleman injury did impact the return game and it seems like the Giants are still scrambling a bit. I’m still not sure who will be the opening day punt and kickoff returners. They could put Jabrill Peppers back there.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Head Coach Pat Shurmur on Benny Fowler and Cody Latimer: “There’s a veteran presence there. They know how to play the game. They played a lot of football, and there’s a confidence that they know what to do, they’ll compete and make plays.”

THE FINAL WORD:
The Giants must reduce the roster from 90 to 53 on Saturday so we will see at least 37 roster moves and probably more.

Sep 012018
 
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Donte Deayon, New York Giants (August 30, 2018)

Donte Deayon – © USA TODAY Sports

New England Patriots 17 – New York Giants 12

QUICK RECAP

This game was very little about winning or losing and more about giving the roster bubble guys one last shot to showcase the potential. The coaching staff kept pretty much every starter on the bench for this one.

Kyle Lauletta got the start and showed that he has a ways to go when it comes to developing his NFL passing ability. He was comfortable on simple read throws underneath, but struggled to get the ball downfield accurately. It led to 2 interceptions.

NYG forced three turnovers themselves, hopefully a sign of things to come, but they also allowed an 86 yard touchdown late that put the game out of reach after a back-and-forth defensive battle. NYG lost the game 17-12 and paved the way for the roster cut down. Major injuries were avoided for the 4th week in a row. Bring on Week 1.

QUARTERBACKS

Kyle Lauletta: 8/19 – 118 yards – 1 TD/2 INT. With both Eli Manning and Davis Webb on the sideline for this one, we got our first extended look at the 4th round rookie. Two things I have liked about his game showed up again in this one, his release and footwork. He is further along than some of the QBs that were taken ahead of him in this 2018 class. He made a few aggressive throws downfield and failed to connect on all of them. He just under threw most of them and the lack of arm power that was discussed in his scouting report definitely showed up. His targets had a step or two in their defenders but the ball just didn’t get there. Both of his interceptions were poor downfield passes. Overall, it was a rough night for the rookie and now it will be back to holding the clipboard while trying to learn the game as much as one can from the sidelines.

Alex Tanney: 13/23 – 92 yards – 1 TD/0 INT. Tanney took over toward the beginning of the 3rd quarter. He never really had a shot at making this roster barring injury, but they still gave him a decent amount of playing time as Lauletta struggled and also started to get banged around by the Patriots pass rush. His final drive resulted in the second NYG touchdown of the night thanks to three NE penalties (one of which nullified a pick 6).

RUNNING BACKS

-This was one of the roster competitions to keep an eye on. If NYG ends up keeping a fourth RB on the team, it will come down to one of Jalen Simmons, Robert Martin, and Jhurell Pressley. Simmons seems to have the inside track, as he saw the most playing time and carries. His footwork and vision seem to be a notch or two higher than the others. He works his way through traffic with a low pad level and showed enough burst. Pressley and Martin have had their moments here, but now that Simmons is healthy again, I think he won the role if they do keep a fourth RB.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Just like the RB position, it seems there may be one more WR spot up for grabs. Kalif Raymond was featured a few times, finishing with a team high 7 targets but only brought in 1 reception. He was the victim of a couple bad deep balls from Lauletta despite impressive releases off the line. Amba Etta-Tawo had the play of the night with a 41 yard touchdown that was 37 yards after the catch. His impressive burst and long stride speed jumped off the screen in a game full of backups. His hot start to training camp simmered down but he finished with a bang. He did drop a ball later in the game, however.

-Travis Rudolph, a popular player at this time last year, caught all 3 targets that were thrown his way. I am surprised he hasn’t been given more looks with this regime. He, along with Roger Lewis (who had another quiet night), seem to be heading elsewhere this season. Alonzo Russell is an interesting guy. He flashed a couple times in games and at 6’4/210, that kind of size might be something to work with on the practice squad.

TIGHT ENDS

-No Evan Engram or Rhett Ellison in this one. Jerell Adams, Garrett Dickerson, and Scott Simonson saw the majority of the snaps. As much as Adams has been up and down this preseason, I think he gets the nod for the number three role. He added a couple more catches and actually had a very solid night blocking the edge. Simonson brings similar presence to the trenches but he just doesn’t have the catch radius that Adams does.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Sticking with the theme of the night, it was a night full of backups. John Greco and Chad Wheeler both allowed sacks but it appears both are going to be primary backups for at least the start of 2018. What I don’t like about Wheeler is the lack of progress he has made with technique. There was a play where he was pass blocking while facing the quarterback trying to box the defender out. He gets turned around and caught off balance way too often. Greco offers the versatility inside you want on game day. He can play OC and both OG spots. His strong preseason play combined with his strong finish in 2017 provides security.

-John Jerry may be an expensive backup and he too has some awful looking technique at times, but he can still get plenty of movement in the run game as a straight ahead blocker. He had some nice pops at he point of attack. Perhaps the most impressive young lineman on this team is Chris Scott. He, too, provides versatile depth inside and he graded out in a positive manner for the fourth week in a row, the only linemen on the team to do so.

EDGE

-This was a night for Lorenzo Carter to show what he’s got, and he shined. The rookie recorded 2 pressures and a sack in just 18 snaps played. With the status of Olivier Vernon up in the air, Carter’s role is going to be an important one whether he is ready or not. He showed excellent hand usage, easy leverage, and the well-known speed in space. Avery Moss finished with 5 tackles but failed to make a difference in the pass game. He has continued to struggle to show any sort of physical progression in year two.

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

-The most crowded/deep position group on this roster. Robert Thomas appears to be entrenched as the primary backup at NT. He recorded a sack and 3 tackles. Thomas is going to benefit greatly from this scheme because it allows him to do what he does best, attack up field. He carries a lot of power when he moves north and consistently creates a new line of scrimmage.

-A.J. Francis led the group in snaps but was inconsistent. The one glaring hole in his game and this dates back to college, is the pad level. He gets too upright and will get easily moved. Izaah Lunsford had a pressure and flashed some nice athletic ability, but he is a sloppy player.

LINEBACKER

-One of the more interesting position battles on this roster may have very well came down to this game. Calvin Munson was a feel good story at this time last year, but he really hasn’t burst into the top 3 or 4 inside linebacker rotation. He doesn’t have the speed or coverage ability for this scheme and his presence between the tackles seems to get lost. Tae Davis, while undersized, has been displaying the opposite. He finished with 6 tackles and factors more on special teams with his speed. He plays bigger than his size but he has had at least 1 missed tackle in each game, including this one.

-Ray-Ray Armstrong has developed more and more with each week. He has picked up this scheme as well as anyone on the team and matched with his skill set, he is going to be a factor. The former safety covered well up the seam and also laid the wood on a QB hit early, probably the hardest hit of the night.

CORNERBACK

-A lot of competition in this group. I wouldn’t say it is a strong group of corners. They are competing for the spots on the bottom of the depth chart. With that said, Donte Deayon had his breakout performance with 2 interceptions and 2 pass breakups. His size is always going to limit him in certain situations, but he has the knack for the ball that you want to see in a CB. Great reaction time and the anticipation is improving.

-Chris Lewis-Harris had a solid night with 2 pass break ups. He did a nice job of keeping himself in the right position. I think he has shown enough to make the roster but he may get caught on the wrong side of the numbers game. I like his ability to cover moreso than William Gay, but Gay’s experience and versatility may get him the nod. Leonard Johnson is still a guy I would like to keep around as well. He had a couple of physical tackles and he plays with the short memory and aggression I want.

SAFETIES

-Andrew Adams, starter of 17 games over the past 2 seasons, got plenty of time to show his worth. He had a couple of nice tackles, one of which was for a loss, where he showed the needed range and physicality. But similar to what we have seen out of him in the past, he missed 2 tackles and was way too late on deep coverage responsibilities. He just doesn’t show the instincts you need back there. Michael Thomas, a guy this staff may want to keep around for locker room reasons, finished with 5 tackles and played like a hard-nosed linebacker at times. He plays big and may be the ideal backup to Landon Collins.

-Sean Chandler got playing time late and showed quality movement in coverage, but he is too much of a non factor against the run.

SPECIAL TEAMS

K Marshall Koehn: 0/0 and 0/1 XP. Koehn missed his lone extra point attempt. He really has no shot at making this roster anyway.

P Riley Dixon: 6 Punts – 45.2 avg / 43.5 net. Very good net average there. 4 of his 6 punts were pinned inside the 20.

3 STUDS

-CB Donte Deayon, LB Lorenzo Carter, DT Robert Thomas

3 DUDS

-OT Chad Wheeler, QB Kyle Lauletta, S Andrew Adams

3 THOUGHTS ON NE

-The Patriots know what they are doing when it comes to scouting and developing QBs. That’s why I am still scratching my head with their selection of Danny Etling. He is a plus athlete with a strong arm, but he is very erratic from a release and overall accuracy standpoint. I can’t imagine he is their long term plan at QB for the post-Brady era.

-Another spot NE has done overly well with when it comes to the draft is linebacker. I’m sure some of it is scheme based, but I would keep a close eye on whoever they cut there. They have a surplus of young talent that produce on multiple fronts.

-The Achilles’ heal of this team is going to be the OL. I don’t think they were upset about losing Nate Solder for the contract he got, but this group is very thin on the edges. Brady can overcome it to an extent, but their floor at the position has been getting lower and lower each year.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-The biggest victory for NYG this preseason is the fact they enter the year with no major injuries. No, Darian Thompson’s hamstring injury is not major and I’m not sold he will make the team anyway.

-If Donte Deayon proves to be a capable playmaker as the #3 or #4 corner on this team, he could prove to be the unsung hero of this defense. NYG has had issues creating turnovers over the years and we know this scheme can force QBs into throwing balls that they don’t want to. That is where the playmakers need to rise up and make things happen.

-As we enter the one week away window, the three biggest concerns on this team are: lack of balance and stability on the OL, minimal pass rush without over-blitzing, and no playmaker at free safety.

Aug 302018
 
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Kyle Lauletta, New York Giants (August 30, 2018)

Kyle Lauletta – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 17 – NEW YORK GIANTS 12…
The New York Giants preseason ended on Thursday night with a 17-12 loss to the New England Patriots at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The game was a boring, glorified scrimmage for back-ups. None of the Giants starters played and Head Coach Pat Shurmur oddly decided not to play second-string quarterback Davis Webb, with Kyle Lauletta getting the start. Even place kicker Aldrick Rosas sat on the bench all night.

Both teams punted twice to start the game. The only play of note being a sack by linebacker Lorenzo Carter on 3rd-and-9 to end the Patriots’ second drive. Aided by two of the new 15-yard, lowering-the-head-to-initiate-contact penalties, the Patriots set up a successful 33-yard field goal on their third drive. The Patriots got the ball back immediately as Lauletta’s deep pass intended for wideout Kalif Raymond was intercepted at the Patriots’ 18-yard line.

After a three-and-out by New England, the Giants went ahead early in the 2nd quarter as wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo turned a short pass reception from Lauletta into a 41-yard touchdown sprint. Place kicker Marshall Koehn missed the extra point and the Giants led 6-3.

A subsequent New England threat was stopped by a spectacular, diving interception by cornerback Donte Deayon at the Giants’ 6-yard line. After two New York punts and another by New England, Deayon picked off his second pass, this one over the middle, right before halftime.

Lauletta was picked off on the third offensive play of the 3rd quarter on a deep pass intended for wide receiver Roger Lewis, Jr. at the 42-yard line. Six plays later, the Patriots went up 10-6 on quarterback Danny Etling’s 1-yard touchdown pass after a 45-yard deep strike set up the score.

Both teams punted twice after that. The next scoring threat came from the Giants in the 4th quarter as New York drove from their own 1-yard line to the Patriots’ 14. But on 4th-and-6, fourth-string quarterback Alex Tanney’s pass fell incomplete. The game then got comical as Etling scored from 86 yards out on a quarterback bootleg run with none of the Giants’ defenders playing contain. The Giants scored a touchdown with less than a minute left to play to make the score look more respectable, as Tanney hit wide receiver Alonzo Russell from eight yards out.

Lauletta finished the game 8-of-19 for 118 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions. Other than Etta-Tawo’s one catch for 41 yards, no one had more than 30 yards receiving for the Giants in the game. The leading runners for New York were Jalen Simmons (11 carries for 41 yards) and Jhurell Pressley (7 carries for 40 yards).

Defensively, Deayon had two interceptions and four pass defenses. Cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris was credited with six tackles and two pass defenses. Carter had one sack and nose tackle Robert Thomas the other.

Video highlights are available at Giants.com.

INACTIVE LIST AND INJURY REPORT…
Not playing for the Giants due to injury were tight end Evan Engram (concussion), linebacker Olivier Vernon (ankle), linebacker Connor Barwin (knee), offensive guard Nick Gates (foot), defensive end R.J. McIntosh (unknown), and safety Darian Thompson (hamstring).

Offensive tackle Nick Becton (ankle) and running back Robert Martin (ankle) left the game with injuries and did not return. Linebacker Avery Moss (knee) left the game, but later returned.

Healthy scratches included place kicker Aldrick Rosas, quarterback Davis Webb, quarterback Eli Manning, wide receiver Cody Latimer, wide receiver Odell Beckham, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, safety Landon Collins, cornerback Eli Apple, running back Saquon Barkley, running back Jonathan Stewart , safety Curtis Riley, cornerback B.W. Webb, linebacker Warren Long, linebacker Alec Ogletree, guard Patrick Omameh, guard Will Hernandez, defensive end Kerry Wynn, tackle Ereck Flowers, center Jon Halapio, tackle Nate Solder, tight end Rhett Ellison, wide receiver Sterling Shepard, linebacker B.J. Goodson, defensive end Dalvin Tomlinson, defensive end B.J. Hill, linebacker Kareem Martin, and nose tackle Damon Harrison.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Pat Shurmur and the following players are available at Giants.com:

ARTICLES…

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
Teams must cut their rosters to 53 players by 4:00PM ET on Saturday.

Aug 292018
 
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Davis Webb, New York Giants (August 24, 2018)

Davis Webb – © USA TODAY Sports

Preseason Game Preview: New England Patriots at New York Giants, August 30, 2018

THE STORYLINE:

As the New York Giants wrap up the 2018 preseason, what have we learned? On paper – and based on limited on-field performance through three preseason contests – it appears the Giants will be a more competitive and better coached team. But given the abysmal, non-competitive 3-13 season the Giants are coming off of, that’s not saying much. How much better is the real question.

Defensively, because of their line, the Giants should be very stout against the run. But pass defense could be a problem as the team’s sole pass rusher with any kind of a resume is the oft-injured Olivier Vernon. Even more concerning is the corner position outside of Janoris Jenkins, the free safety position, and ability of the linebackers to cover backs and tight ends.

Offensively, the Giants have a set of skill position players that few – if any – teams in the NFL can employ. But questions remain about the team’s 37-year old quarterback and offensive line. Manning can still throw the football when he feels safe, but he’s got to prove he can still win football games after being hit in the mouth. The left tackle position has been upgraded, but how much of a problem will the center, right guard, and right tackle spots be? Will Saquon Barkley be dancing to find holes or will the line be able to consistently help him out? How much help will the Giants need to Ereck Flowers in pass protection?

On special teams, the Giants are going to roll the dice with Aldrick Rosas again. The return game could give us heartburn as the chief candidates have ball security issues.

Overall, this team has the feel of one that will regularly emphasized on highlight shows. We’ll see Odell Beckham, Saquon Barkley, Evan Engram, and Sterling Shepard make big, flashy plays. But will the team make enough of the less glamorous, consistent ones to win games? The defense will probably live and die by the blitz. We could see a lot of flashy big plays, but also long scores going in the other direction. The special teams still don’t seem special.

Taken together, that’s a recipe for an 8-8-type season. In a watered-down NFL filled with teams with poor fundamentals that can’t practice and spoiled millennials, that could be enough to sneak into the playoffs, especially if the Giants can steal a game or two. Much will also depend on how good or ordinary the coaching will be.

As for this game, I would not expect the starters to play much, if at all. Throughout the league, this final game has basically become a contest between back-ups, with coaches looking to avoid injuries to front-line starters while also making final evaluations on the lower third of the roster.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • TE Evan Engram (concussion)
  • OG Nick Gates (foot)
  • DE R.J. McIntosh (unknown)
  • LB Olivier Vernon (ankle)
  • LB Connor Barwin (knee)
  • LB Calvin Munson (concussion)
  • S Darian Thompson (hamstring)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:

As I mentioned last week, I was surprised by the way Pat Shurmur handled Eli Manning this offseason. This is the third time in his career that Manning had to adjust to a new offensive system, but Shurmur handled Manning like he’s been in it for years. For better or worse, it’s clear Shurmur trusts Manning, who was basically only given half a preseason game (Jets) and two drives (Browns) to get ready for 2018. On top of all of that, arguably New York’s two best players – Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley – didn’t play or barely played this preseason, albeit for different reasons. In a nutshell, the band hasn’t played together yet. That is a little unnerving, but it is also building anticipation for what this offense might be.

The offensive line hasn’t improved as much as hoped (yet?). The first-team unit has not been able to run the football with issues in the middle and right side of the line. This sounds hauntingly familiar. I think most fans correctly understand that the offensive line is the critical element in how good this offense can be. If Eli feels protected, he can still play. If the Giants don’t have to simply rely on the big play to score and maintain possession of the ball to keep drives alive, that gives more touches to Barkley, Beckham, Engram, and Shepard. More touches = more points. But the team has to be able to pick up first downs.

As for the back-ups:

Quarterback: For better or worse, Davis Webb will be the #2 guy and Kyle Lauletta #3. Webb may be the future, but if Eli goes down, the season is over in 2018. (No different than most teams).

Running Back: Wayne Gallman has clearly out-played Jonathan Stewart and should be the #2 back. If he isn’t, that’s a bad sign about the coaching staff. Some fans don’t think Stewart should be on this team, but it sounds like the coaching staff still wants him here. That leaves Jalen Simmons, Robert Martin, and Jhurell Pressley probably fighting for one roster spot. This game will probably decide it.

Wide Receiver: Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and Cody Latimer will be the top three. I may be wrong, but I think all signs point to the Giants keep both Hunter Sharp and Kalif Raymond, as well as Russell Sheppard. Of course, someone coming free on the waiver wire could change that. Don’t be shocked if the Giants pick someone up here, especially if he has return ability.

Tight Ends: Obviously, Evan Engram and Rhett Ellison are the top two guys. And with Shurmur likely to run a plethora of 2-tight end sets, both are de facto starters. That would suggest the Giants might even keep four tight ends. However, Shumur could decide to carry three plus a fullback. This is a big game for Jerell Adams, Scott Simonson, and Shane Smith. Again, they are not just competing against themselves but the waiver wire.

Offensive Line: Trading away Brett Jones clarifies things a little. John Greco is now the primary center/guard swingman. John Jerry probably makes it unless a cheaper vet shakes loose somewhere else. Chad Wheeler has not progressed as hoped and is battling Nick Becton and the waiver wire for swing tackle. (Giants should seriously scan the waiver wire here).

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:

When you are keeping your fingers crossed that Eli Apple doesn’t get hurt, you know you are scary thin at cornerback. If Janoris Jenkins were go down, this unit would immediately become the worst in the NFL. It’s also concerning that Olivier Vernon is hurt yet again. The range and cover ability of the linebackers and safeties remain issues until proven otherwise.

The good news? The Giants are big and strong up front. That’s the first place you want to start when building a defense.

Back-ups:

Defensive Line: This unit is pretty much set. The starters are damn good and there is good depth with Josh Mauro, Robert Thomas, Kerry Wynn, and A.J. Francis. Mauro will start the year on a 4-game suspension. Unfortunately, 2018 will be a red shirt year for R.J. McIntosh. The real wild card here is Wynn. Another preseason tease or will 2018 be a breakout year for him as a situational player? Giants will have to make a decision after Mauro is eligible to come back.

Outside Linebacker: Broken record time…Olivier Vernon looks primed for big season but gets hurt early. This had better not be another one of those “nagging” injury issues with him that contributes to just another 6-7 sack season. The Giants need a 12-14 sack season out him. Kareem Martin will start opposite of him. He probably was a little nervous when the Giants signed Connor Barwin, but Barwin has missed almost all of the preseason with a knee injury. Lorenzo Carter is still learning the game, but flashes at times. It’s doubtful the Giants can keep both Romeo Okwara (who received 1st team reps this week at practice) and Avery Moss, unless the Giants cut Barwin. Huge game for both against the Patriots.

Inside Linebacker: Alec Ogletree and B.J. Goodson are the starters, but Ray-Ray Armstrong is making a hard push for playing time. As I’ve stated before, Mark Herzlich has always been better suited for a 3-4 defense. Beat writers keep talking about Tae Davis. This is a big game for him.

Cornerback: Outside of Janoris Jenkins, this position is a mess. Eli Apple will start because there are no better options. Donte Deayon is a walking injury. The others are castoffs who other teams will abuse all day long. Help wanted sign is out here.

Safety: Landon Collins is probably overrated by some fans and underrated by others. He would be even better if he were teamed with a true, athletic free safety. That kind of guy isn’t on this team and won’t be in 2018. So James Bettcher will have to play mad scientist and mix-and-match at the position all year long. As of now, Curtis Riley has won the job by default because Darian Thompson can’t stay out of the infirmary. You have to wonder if the Giants will simply cut bait with him at this point. Michael Thomas and William Gay are plugins who you don’t want starting. Watch waiver wire here too.

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:

Aldrick Rosas has had a very good preseason. It makes complete sense for the Giants to roll the dice with him again. But you know everyone will be holding their breath with him when the games count. If Hunter Sharp and Kalif Raymond didn’t put the ball on the ground so much, the return game would be in decent shape. But they do. Bill Parcells wouldn’t even have them out there.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:

Head Coach Pat Shurmur on his team as it approaches the start of the regular season: “I feel like we’ve done a lot of good things (this offseason). I think we’re on the right path. We’ve certainly got a lot of work to do between now and first week and then teams improve as the season goes along… It’s really a journey for a team to try to get enough wins to be in the playoffs and as you go through it, you hope as a team you stay healthy and then continue to improve.”

THE FINAL WORD:

This game is going to be big for guys like Jalen Simmons, Robert Martin, Jhurell Pressley, Jerell Adams, Scott Simonson, Chad Wheeler, Nick Becton, Romeo Okwara, and Avery Moss.

In reality, watching the cuts on Saturday will be more interesting.

Sep 022017
 
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Roger Lewis and Matt LaCosse, New York Giants (August 31, 2017)

Roger Lewis and Matt LaCosse – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 40 – New England Patriots 38

QUICK RECAP

For the 13th consecutive season, the New York Giants ended their preseason schedule against the New England Patriots. These two have had a couple of epic Super Bowl contests over the past decade and even though multiple starters on both sides did not dress, there is an extra sense of nostalgia seeing the Giants in their “Whites” and the Patriots in their “Blues”. The final preseason contest was less about the starters getting their reps and more about the potential backups battling it out for roster spots.

The Giants jumped out to a commanding 34-14 lead at halftime, clicking on all cylinders offensively. But just like last week against the Jets, the backup defense struggled to hold the lead and ended up losing it completely in the 4th quarter with under a minute left. Rookie Davis Webb then engineered a 7-play drive which ended with a game-winning 48-yard field goal by fellow rookie Aldrick Rosas with no time left on the clock. The Giants improved to 2-2 on the preseason with a 40-38 victory.

QUARTERBACKS

  • The backup job battle between Geno Smith and Josh Johnson was back and forth throughout the entire preseason. Smith, the more talented of the two, was on fire going 10/11 for 111 yards and a TD. He was hitting guys left and right in stride with a nice blend of zip and touch. Johnson entered the game early in the 2nd quarter, getting the majority of the snaps. He responded with his own preseason-best performance, going 11/14 for 135 yards and a TD. At their best, Smith is the better quarterback. There is no debating that but Johnson may be the more secure guy. Who wins this job will come down to which situation they prefer, really. If I had to choose, Smith is the guy.
  • Davis Webb came in during the 4th quarter. He went 8/14 for 103 yards and was a little erratic on his deep throws but continues to show excellent footwork. Webb works on his craft a lot, rollout positioning especially. It came to fruition in the game-winning drive when he evaded pressure from his blind side, rolled out to the left, and completed a nice ball. Hopefully this is the last Webb sees the field against another team until next year. All in all, he had a great preseason process.

RUNNING BACKS

  • Shaun Draughn finally got to show this coaching staff what he can do. It’s been a bumpy ride when it comes to his health and opportunities, but a 14-carry, 54-yard night, including a touchdown and a couple catches, could be enough for him to warrant a roster spot.
  • Orleans Darwka ran hard downhill, showing his physical brand and proving he is the top “pile-pusher” among the NYG backs. He has proven before that when he gets some space allowing him to gain a full head of steam, he can do damage in there. He carried the ball 8 times for 40 yards, including the long of the night, 21 yards.
  • Shane Vereen and Wayne Gallman rounded out the rest of the RB play. Vereen looked physical, especially as a blocker. He is going to be a crucial part to this 3rd down offense. Gallman struggled to break free from initial contact. He probably takes more hits than he should considering his small-ish frame, but can’t blame a back for being a fighter. He enters the season as the team’s most explosive rusher.
  • Shane Smith had his best game of the preseason and it looks like he is getting more used to the speed of the game. He is more assertive and showed a couple of nice adjustments to stick to his man and maintain running lanes.

WIDE RECEIVERS

  • No Beckham, Marshall, Harris, or King. Opportunity for the young guys who want to make this team or practice squad. Travis Rudolph led the position group with 3 catches for 46 yards, including a gutsy extension catch over the middle on a seam route. From day one, he has been the young kid who does everything right from running routes, securing and tucking the ball, and constantly catching the ball. The physical shortcomings aren’t going anywhere, but he has proven he can make plays when the opportunity is given.
  • Jerome Lane continued to impress. The raw, physical receiver showed another pure hands catch on a crossing route. For a guy that spent just one year in college as a wide receiver, the amount of untapped upside warrants a spot on the practice squad.
  • Canaan Severin, Marquis Bundy, and Ed Eagen all had impressive nights in their own respects. Severin appears to be the highest-upsided of them all and could sneak his way onto a roster spot. His ability to adjust to the ball and attack with his hands at 6’2/205 is attractive.

TIGHT ENDS

  • With Rhett Ellison and Evan Engram on the sideline to preserve safety, there were plenty of snaps to go around for Matt LaCosse, Will Tye, and Jerrell Adams.
  • LaCosse, who had as good of a training camp as anyone when it came to making plays, finally got a steady dose of action and ended up with 5 catches for 60 yards and 2 touchdowns. As a blocker, he graded out above average. I think its time this gets on the 53-man roster because he hasn’t stopped making plays since he’s been here.
  • Will Tye opened the game with a fumble on the Giants’ first drive. He continued to look more athletic than he was last season, but there is a sense of “You know what you are getting with him” when it comes to Tye. Limited upside both as a blocker and receiver.
  • Adams has turned into a dominant-level blocker. His ability to stifle, move, and stick to defenders is going to a factor this year. He is still growing into his top-tier frame and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him on the field for 10+ snaps per game.

OFFENSIVE LINE

  • All in all, a very solid performance from the backups. All 5 starters did not play, leaving it up to the back-up players themselves to give one last effort to make this team. The Patriots were very vanilla with their pass rush scheme, so that helped quite a bit.
  • The young tackles, Chad Wheeler and Adam Bisnowaty, continued to show what we have seen all preseason. Wheeler is a gifted athlete with body control and balance, but there are flashes each week that show his lack of true man-strength and lack of experience. Bisnowaty was a major disappointment in his first preseason; there is a lot of work for him to do. No player has ruined more plays by himself than the rookie from Pittsburgh. He did get some action at left guard in the 4th quarter and for what its worth, looked more comfortable there when he wasn’t forced into space.
  • D.J. Fluker excels against defenses like this, vanilla and straight-ahead power rushers. He can handle anyone that is thrown at him in that fashion. There are still a couple of occasions where he ducks his head and reaches when trying to block laterally. Brett Jones had a very solid game, especially in the run game. The team had a lot of success running off either one of his shoulders, I think the backup OC job is his.
  • Jarron Jones, a practice squat candidate, has come along OK with his footwork in comparison to where he was in August. There is no way he can be depended on if an injury were to occur, however. He continued to whiff on defenders and appear three steps behind mentally.

DEFENSIVE LINE

  • Damon Harrison, Dalvin Tomlinson, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Olivier Vernon didn’t dress for the game while Jay Bromley remains sidelined with a knee injury. The Patriots offense was held to 3.4 yards per carry.
  • Robert Thomas notched a sack along with 3 tackles, proving his multi-down threat. He fought hard to get off blocks, showing quick and strong hands and a relentless engine.
  • Kerry Wynn made the defensive play of the night, tipping a Jacoby Brissett pass to himself and returning it for a 15-yard touchdown in the first quarter. To think about how far he has come in his young four-year career is a proof-is-in-the-pudding development that shows sometimes being patient with these high-upside, high-character young guys can really pay off. He has become an important piece to this potentially dominant defense.
  • Devin Taylor hasn’t showed enough in his short tenure with the club. He is too slow off the ball and struggles to get movement on blockers. Too many plays do I have the “NF” (Non-Factor) next to his name. Same can be said for Stansly Maponga, a hybrid DE/OLB who just doesn’t fit with this scheme nor has he shown the needed athleticism.
  • Rookie Avery Moss was all over the field. Both DE spots, pass rushing OLB, coverage OLB, and pass-rushing DT. The tools are there, he just needs to put his best foot forward in the weight room. He isn’t powerful enough yet but there is a play-maker somewhere in there.
  • Jordan Williams and Josh Banks, both a tad undersized for interior play but too big and slow for the outside, get off the ball well but both were struggling to get off their blocks. They were beat on a few of the Patriots more positive running plays.

LINEBACKERS

  • B.J. Goodson, Devon Kennard, Jonathan Casillas, and Keenan Robinson (injury) did not play. Curtis Grant saw the most action in the group and responded with 8 tackles, the most on the team. He is an excellent interior defender, as he can explode into 3-5 yard creases with power and presence. Very good tackler who makes the effort to wrap up violently. He was exposed in space a few times. Grant is not a poor athlete but he does have trouble reacting laterally and in coverage.
  • Fellow backup and roster hopeful Deontae Skinner added 3 tackles while roster probable Calvin Munson recorded 2. Munson is less physically gifted but he has proven to be the most instinctual backup they have and, when it comes to that position, instincts trump all.
  • J.T. Thomas got the most live action he’s seen in almost a year and he didn’t disappoint. He had 4 tackles a forced a fumble. Thomas showed a physical brand when tackling and filling lanes to meet blockers. He was very impressive against the backups of NE and could end up being the athletic but powerful backup they need on the weak side.

CORNERBACKS

  • Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Michael Hunter, and Eli Apple all remained on the sideline. This position group has seen as much turnover as any on the team. The top 4 seemed pretty much locked in, thus I think these guys were competing for a practice squad spot or two and the final spot on the 53-man roster.
  • DaShaun Amos has been with the team all offseason and preseason, and his size/speed combination were on display against the Patriots. He is a smooth transition guy, very important for the man coverage scheme.
  • Tim Scott was in on a lot of action. He allowed a few passes to be completed in his direction but he played a physical downhill style. He made an impression on me in his 2 games here. Tay Glover-Wright allowed a touchdown pass, struggling to control his body when locating the ball.
  • Donte Deayon only played early on, but he was beat for a 1st quarter TD matched up against Cody Hollister. It was a play that further exposed Deayon’s glaring weakness, his size. He just doesn’t have a lot of range when attacking the ball against a receiver and he is so easily moved. I think he has an inside track at making this team but he needs to be avoided when it comes to placing these CBs in certain roles.

SAFETIES

  • Darian Thompson got the start, as he simply needs more and more experience. The second year, projected starter next to Landon Collins is still extremely raw when it comes to reading and reacting to NFL offenses.
  • Nat Berhe gave his weekly missed tackle when he tried to take down Austin Carr on his way into the end zone. There is such a thing as a player who is too aggressive, and Berhe is exactly that. The issues that a poor-tackling safety can present could really damn a defense. I respect his presence considering his size, but is this a guy who will hurt the Giants as much as help? More?

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Kicker Aldrick Rosas went 4-fo- 4, including the game-winning 48-yarder. It was good to see him respond positively to a pressure situation. Even though it was a low-intensity preseason game, the Giants would have lost if he missed. Rosas went 8-for-8 in preseason games and as far as I’m concerned, did everything right to deserve the job.

3 STUDS

  • DE Avery Moss, QB Geno Smith, TE Matt LaCosse

3 DUDS

  • OT Adam Bisnowaty, S Nat Berhe, CB Tay Glover-Wright

3 PATRIOTS TAKEAWAYS

  • What New England does with their backup QB situation is going to be one of the more interesting personnel situations in the league next year. Jacoby Brissett has shown enough in his now two preseasons and the 2016 regular-season to warrant backup duty. If that is the case, teams looking for a starting QB next year could skip the development process by trading a 1st round pick for Jimmy Garoppolo.
  • Two players who I wanted the Giants to draft in the 5th and 6th rounds respectively, were both taken by the Patriots. OT Conor McDermott played a very solid RT and LB Brooks Ellis showed what liked in college (a big and physical guy with enough speed paired with excellent instincts). If either one of these guys shakes loose via roster cuts, NYG should give them a hard look.
  • When a Patriots pass catcher goes down, there is always someone that comes out of nowhere it seems. Austin Carr is a name that my boss at Ourlads was all in on from last fall all the way through the draft process. Austin Carr is the reliable route running, catch-everything no-namer that all of you may be adding to your fantasy roster soon if he can get on that 53-man roster.
Aug 312017
 
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Orleans Darkwa, New York Giants (August 31, 2017)

Orleans Darkwa – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 40 – NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS 38…
The New York Giants defeated the New England Patriots 40-38 on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Giants – who blew a 34-14 first-half lead – won the game with no time remaining on place kicker Aldrick Rosas’ 48-yard field goal. The Giants finished the preseason 2-2.

The Giants and Patriots treated the game more like a scrimmage. Only one of the Giants’ projected 22 starters played in the game: safety Darian Thompson.

The starting offense consisted of quarterback Geno Smith; running back Orleans Darkwa; fullback Shane Smith; wide receivers Roger Lewis, Jr. and Travis Rudolph; tight end Will Tye; and offensive linemen Chad Wheeler, Jon Halapio, Brett Jones, D.J. Fluker, and Adam Bisnowaty.

The starters on defense were ends Kerry Wynn and Devin Taylor; defensive tackles Robert Thomas and Josh Banks; linebackers Romero Okwara, Calvin Munson, and J.T. Thomas; cornerbacks Donte Deayon and Nigel Tribune; and safeties Darian Thompson and Andrew Adams.

On the second offensive snap to start the game, Tye fumbled the ball away to New England after a short reception. Six plays later, on 3rd-and-6, Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett threw a 9-yard touchdown pass. The Giants back-ups responded with an impressive drive against the Patriots back-ups, moving the ball 75 yards in eight plays and culminating with a Smith 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt LaCosse. On New England’s very next offensive snap, Wynn intercepted Brissett’s pass and returned it 15 yards four a touchdown. Giants 14 – Patriots 7.

After forcing a three-and-out, the Giants put together another long drive, going 74 yards in 14 plays. However, this time New York had to settle for a 22-yard field goal by Rosas. New England responded with a quick 5-play, 75-yard effort that ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass. Giants 17 – Patriots 14.

Back came the Giants with another 14-play, 74-yard effort. But unlike the preceding New York drive, this one resulted in a touchdown as running back Shaun Draughn scored from one yard out. On the first offensive play of the Patriots ensuing drive, linebacker J.T. Thomas forced a fumble that fellow linebacker Stansly Maponga recovered at the New England 27-yard line. Quarterback Josh Johnson then hit Tye for a 24-yard gain. Two plays later he found LaCosse for the tight end’s second score of the contest. Giants 31 – Patriots 14.

The Giants forced a three-and-out. New York got the ball back near mid-field with 30 seconds left. Johnson found wide receiver Travis Rudolph for 27 yards, helping to set up Rosas from 31 yards out. At the half, the Giants led 34-14.

After picking up one first down, the Patriots were forced to punt to start the third quarter. The Giants drove from their own 23-yard line to the Pats 27-yard line, but on 4th-and-1, running back Wayne Gallman was nailed for a 1-yard loss. The Patriots then drove 72 yards in 14 plays to cut the Giants lead to 31-21.

With Davis Webb now at the helm for the Giants, New York responded with a 12-play, 66-yard effort that ended with a 27-yard field goal by Rosas. The Giants were now up 34-21 early in the fourth quarter.

The Giants defensive third- and fourth-teamers could not hold the lead however. New England scored 17 points in the final quarter, including touchdown drives of 9-plays, 79-yards and 12-plays, 87-yards. The Patriots got the ball back at their own 31-yard line with 1:42 left to play. In seven plays, they managed to drive to the New York 37-yard line, setting up what looked to be a game-winning 55-yard field goal with 44 seconds left to play.

After returning the kickoff, the Giants started their last offensive possession at their own 25-yard line with 39 seconds to play. Webb completed 4-of-6 passes for 45 yards to set up Rosas from 48 yards out with four seconds on the clock. Rosas made the kick as time expired.

Offensively, Smith completed 10-of-11 passes for 111 yards and one touchdown, Johnson 11-of-14 for 135 yards and one touchdown, and Webb 8-of-14 for 103 yards. The leading receivers were LaCosse (5 catches for 60 yards and 2 touchdowns), Tye (4 catches for 48 yards), and Rudolph (3 catches for 46 yards). The leading rushers were Draughn (14 carries for 54 yards and a touchdown), Orleans Darkwa (6 carries for 40 yards), and Gallman (8 carries for 27 yards).

The Giants only had one sack in the game, by defensive tackle Robert Thomas.

Video highlights/lowlights are available at Giants.com.

INJURY REPORT…
Not playing in the game due to injury were wide receiver Odell Beckham, Jr. (ankle), wide receiver Tavarres King (ankle), defensive tackle Jay Bromley (sprained knee), linebacker Keenan Robinson (concussion), linebacker Mark Herzlich (burner), cornerback Eli Apple (ankle), cornerback Michael Hunter (concussion), and Duke Ihenacho (sprained knee).

The Giants did not appear to suffer any significant injuries in the game.

POST-GAME REACTION…
Video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Ben McAdoo and the following players are available at Giants.com:

MASSIVE CUT-DOWN DAY ON SATURDAY…
Clubs must reduce their active rosters to 53 players by 4:00PM ET on Saturday.

ARTICLES…

Aug 302017
 
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Nat Berhe, New York Giants (September 1, 2016)

Nat Berhe – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Preseason Game Preview: New York Giants at New England Patriots, August 31, 2017

THE STORYLINE:
The New York Giants and New England Patriots have been playing against each other in the 4th preseason game since 2005. Last year was a bit of a roll reversal for each team as it was the Giants who sat most of their starters while New England played their starters, including Tom Brady. The Giants back-ups actually performed admirably well in that game.

We don’t know how Bill Belichick will approach this year’s game, but Ben McAdoo already made it known he will handle the game like he did last year. So aside from the list of injured players below, don’t expect Giants’ stalwarts like Eli Manning, Brandon Marshall, Damon Harrison, Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Landon Collins to play. We may not eve see guys like Sterling Shepard, Dwayne Harris, Shane Vereen, and Rhett Ellison. Last year, Weston Richburg did not play and the other starters on the offensive line only played a handful of snaps.

Long story short, this is less of a competitive contest than an evaluation period for the bubble players right before Saturday’s massive cut-down deadline.

THE INJURY REPORT:

  • WR Odell Beckham, Jr. (ankle)
  • WR Tavarres King (ankle)
  • DT Jay Bromley (knee)
  • LB Keenan Robinson (concussion)
  • LB Mark Herzlich (stinger)
  • CB Eli Apple (ankle)
  • CB Michael Hunter (concussion)
  • S Duke Ihenacho (knee)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON OFFENSE:
The biggest story line offensively for the Giants will be this is the final audition for the back-up quarterbacks. On Saturday, Geno Smith or Josh Johnson will be cut. And if both struggle against the Patriots, while unlikely, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Giants cut both. Smith has looked like the more legit NFL quarterback this preseason, but as demonstrated throughout his short NFL career, he has also been guilty of the ugly turnover. Johnson simply has not impressed. At the bottom of the depth chart is Davis Webb, who hasn’t received nearly enough practice and preseason snaps to probably seriously contend for the #2 job. A shot-gun QB in college, he’s still learning the basics of NFL footwork.

Because Shaun Draughn simply was not able to stay healthy, the running back situation is easier to figure out. Paul Perkins will be the starter. Shane Vereen will probably rival him for snaps/playing time. Orleans Darkwa will probably be the short-yardage back. Wayne Gallman is the developmental prospect who will probably struggle to be active on game day.

My guess it the top three tight ends are Evan Engram, Rhett Ellison, and Jerell Adams. Will the Giants carry four? Or will they opt to go with a fullback (Shane Smith)? This is a HUGE game for Smith and tight ends Matt LaCosse and Will Tye.

At wide receiver, the Giants will surely sit Odell Beckham and probably Brandon Marshall and Dwayne Harris. It will be interesting to see if Sterling Shepard plays. Heading into camp, Tavarres King had the inside track to the #5 wide receiver position, but he has missed a lot of time. Is his job safe? Could the Giants only carry five receivers? Roger Lewis and Travis Rudolph are fighting for their NFL lives. Both have been “fortunate” to see many of the other contenders fall by the wayside due to injury (Darius Powe, Keeon Johnson, Kevin Snead, Kevin Norwood).

Lastly, this brings us to the Giants Achilles’ heel: the offensive line. Does McAdoo give the starting five extra time to prepare for the Cowboys? Or does he do what he did last year and only play the starters for about 10 snaps? Media and fans were excited to see Brett Jones replace John Jerry at right guard against the Jets, but Jerry was back at right guard with the first team this week at practice. Really, the questions here for this game is how many back-up offensive linemen do the Giants keep? And who? They will surely be actively scanning the waiver wire for upgrades. Jones may not be safe. He’s probably fighting Jon Halapio for the reserve center/guard spot. Is D.J. Fluker are sure thing? He may not bring a lot of versatility in terms of position interchangeability and he did not appear to seriously challenge Jerry. Undrafted rookie free agent Chad Wheeler has out-performed 6th-round pick Adam Bisnowaty. Do both, one, or none of these two make it?

NEW YORK GIANTS ON DEFENSE:
The starting defense is ready. Ben McAdoo would be crazy to play his best defensive players, specifically Jason Pierre-Paul, Olivier Vernon, Damon Harrison, Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, and Landon Collins. Factor in that injured players Eli Apple, Michael Hunter, Jay Bromley, and Keenan Robinson won’t play and Giants fans should not read anything in terms of the team’s defensive performance against the Patriots. Other than possibly Donte Deayon, none of the corners playing in this game will make the team. (Let that sink in before you starting bitching on the game thread about our secondary).

The injury to Jay Bromley complicates things for the Dallas game. Bromley says he will be ready, but players usually are overly optimistic with the press. Dalvin Tomlinson or Robert Thomas may be seeing more snaps in the opener than expected.

At end, we know who the starters are. Kerry Wynn seems to be in the lead for the top reserve defensive end spot, but none of the reserves have really stood out as pass rushers in the preseason. Romeo Okwara, Devin Taylor, and Avery Moss have been quiet. One guy who may have sneaked his way into the picture is DE/DT Jordan Williams. He has flashed. This game is an important contest to all of these players. While the Giants’ sub-par secondary is getting burned, it will be more important for fans to keep an eye up front to who almost gets to the quarterback.

At linebacker, Mark Herzlich has been sidelined for weeks with a neck injury. How serious is it? Might he end up on IR? That would open things up for other reserves and/or waiver wire pick-ups. The sure bets are Devon Kennard, Jonathan Casillas, B.J. Goodson, and Keenan Robinson. There is very little depth here, especially when you consider Robinson is already battling his second concussion of the preseason. J.T. Thomas should be thanking his lucky stars. One guy to watch is Calvin Munson.

At corner, again, I don’t think anyone playing in this game has a legit shot to make the team other than Donte Deayon – and he’s no sure thing either if the Giants see an upgrade on the waiver wire. Don’t fret the CB play on Thursday night. That said, because guys like Nigel Tribune, DaShaun Amos, Tim Scott, Tay Glover-Wright, and Daniel Gray will be running around clueless, it will be tough to get a good read on the back-up safeties. I’ve been disappointed in Nat Berhe’s play this preseason. The Giants may be stuck with him, but again, I’d be checking out that waiver wire. The top three safeties obviously will be Collins, Darian Thompson (how much does he play in this game?), and Andrew Adams. None of the other reserve safeties have impressed (Duke Ihenacho, Ryan Murphy, Eric Pinkins, and Daniel Gray)

NEW YORK GIANTS ON SPECIAL TEAMS:
The place-kicker competition this preseason has been as good as I can ever remember. Neither has missed and both have impressively nailed kicks from 50+ yards. This literally may come down to the last kick. Dwayne Harris’ absence has meant we haven’t had a serious look at our return game this preseason.

FROM THE COACH’S MOUTH:
Ben McAdoo on what he looks for in the 4th preseason game: “We want to give every player who’s on the bubble an opportunity to show what they can do.”

THE FINAL WORD:
I think this is a good football team. But the offensive line, running game, and place kicker could sabotage the season. There are also serious depth concerns at linebacker and safety. The ankle situations for Odell Beckham and Eli Apple could be a problem, at least in the short-term.

But this Giants defense may be the best the team has had since 2007, and maybe better. This is certainly the most talent group of receivers Eli Manning has had since 2011. This is a team that should be a serious Super Bowl contender.

As for this game, the key players to watch are the quarterbacks, place kickers, fullback versus reserve tight ends, defensive ends, and linebackers.

Sep 032016
 
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Andre Williams, New York Giants (September 1, 2016)

Andre Williams – © USA TODAY Sports Images

New York Giants 17 – New England Patriots 9

Overview

The Giants and Patriots have been playing each other in the preseason finale for years. In a bit of a role reversal, it was the Giants who sat most of their top players while the Patriots actually played quarterback Tom Brady the entire first half. Surprisingly, a mostly second- and third-team defense forced three first-half turnovers and held Brady’s high-powered offense to just six points. Without Eli Manning and Odell Beckham, and behind continued shoddy blocking and poor back-up quarterbacking, the offense continued to struggle. But there was just enough good defense interspersed with some offensive production to come away with a 17-9 victory.

The Giants come out of the preseason mostly healthy. The primary health concerns are fullback/tight end Will Johnson (burner), linebacker Jonathan Casillas (ribs), and safety Darian Thompson (shoulder) – all of whom will hopefully be able to play against the Dallas Cowboys on September 11th.

The defense has made great strides, but will the offensive line flip a switch and play much, much better than it did in the four preseason games?

Giants on Offense

Quarterback Eli Manning, wide receiver Odell Beckham, and center Weston Richburg were healthy scratches.

Out of their seven first-half possessions, the Giants had two long drives: one a 15-play, 59-yard possession that ended with a 25-yard field goal; and the second a 6-play, 63-yard possession that ended with an interception at the Patriots 2-yard line with seven seconds left in the half. The Giants generated seven first downs on these two drives and just three first downs on the other five drives.

In the second half, the Giants had four drives (not counting the last one where the team was merely attempting to run out the clock). Two of these drives resulted in touchdowns and the two others with punts. The first scoring drive was a 4-play, 86-yard affair with the big play coming on the 59-yard catch-and-run by wideout Tavarres King. The second scoring drive was a 13-play, 79-yard march that ended with a 17-yard touchdown reception by wide receiver Roger Lewis.

Ryan Nassib, New York Giants (September 1, 2016)

Ryan Nassib – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Quarterback

Eli Manning was a healthy scratch.

Heading into the last year of his rookie contract, this was a terrible preseason for Ryan Nassib. He obviously regressed from his strong 2015 preseason. Why? He’s in the same system and received far more playing time with the first unit than he ever has. Frank Cignetti, Jr. became the new quarterback coach this offseason but it’s hard to believe that Cignetti would be the reason. Regardless, Nassib did not play with a lot of confidence and never looked terribly comfortable. He played with poor offensive lines in his three other preseasons. Oddly, his arm strength was terribly inconsistent. Nassib’s touch and accuracy just appeared off in all four games. Nassib finished this game 16-of-29 for 210 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

Nassib did have his moments, like his well-thrown 13-yard out to WR Sterling Shepard in the 1st quarter and his 9-yard throw to WR Tavarres King in the 2nd quarter. At least three of his deep sideline throws were out-of-bounds. Nassib was also fortunate that a Patriots penalty erased a fumble on play where he should have thrown the ball away or simply fallen to the ground.

Logan Thomas entered the game mid-way through the 4th quarter and led the Giants on a 13-play, 79-yard, 6-minute touchdown drive that put the game away. Thomas was 3-of-5 for 39 yards and a well-thrown 17-yard touchdown pass. All that said, Thomas never threatened the struggling Nassib in training camp and the preseason. He also fumbled a shotgun snap on the touchdown drive that was fortunately recovered.

Running Backs

Bobby Rainey (7 carries for 38 yards, 3 catches for 37 yards), Orleans Darkwa (9 carries for 37 yards), and Andre Williams (10 carries for 35 yards) all had their moments against the Patriots. Paul Perkins had 3 catches for 29 yards, but also fumbled the ball away on one of his two carries and dropped a pass. Both Darkwa and Williams impressed with their tough running between the tackles despite less-than-ideal run blocking. Rainey had some decent runs out of the shotgun formation and is a more slippery runner and receiver.

Wide Receivers

Odell Beckham was a healthy scratch.

Victor Cruz only played nine snaps. He got little separation on two deep routes against corner Malcolm Butler on the first series, including the only time the ball was thrown his way (incomplete). Same story against corner Logan Ryan on the first play of the next series. He was open on a drag route but the ball went elsewhere. Cruz’s best play came when he then beat Butler with a quick move at the line and got behind him. However, Nassib didn’t see the wide open Cruz.

Sterling Shepard didn’t play long. He caught 1-of-2 passes thrown in his direction for 13 yards. His first opportunity was a deep pass also against Butler, but like Cruz, Shepard could not create any separation. Two plays later, Shepard picked up the first down with an out route on 3rd-and-10.

The leading wide receivers were Tavarres King (4 catches for 80 yards and a touchdown), Roger Lewis (3 catches for 30 yards and a touchdown), and Geremy Davis (3 catches for 30 yards). King’s 59-yard catch-and-run was the play of the night as he easily ran away from two defenders. Lewis had a 7-yard reception on 3rd-and-5, King a 4-yard reception on 3rd-and-2, and King a 9-yard reception on 3rd-and-6 on the Giants field goal drive. Lewis couldn’t handle one fastball on a crossing pattern. Davis made a couple of outstanding sideline catches including a 16-yard back-shoulder reception.

Tight Ends/Offensive Line

Interestingly, the Giants decided to sit Weston Richburg as a healthy scratch with Brett Jones getting the start at center. Had Justin Pugh (shoulder) not missed so much time, he probably would have sat too. The other three starters – Ereck Flowers, John Jerry, and Marshall Newhouse – need the work.

The starters – minus Richburg – only played nine plays. After decent pass protection on the first pass play, the next left-side running play lost four yards. On 3rd-and-14, both tackles allowed pressure on Nassib, whose arm was hit as he threw. Both Flowers and Newhouse allowed pressure on the next drive on the same play. Brett Jones then failed to spot the inside blitz as Nassib was sacked just after he received the snap.

The second-team offensive line featured LT Bobby Hart, LG Adam Gettis, OC Brett Jones, RG Emmett Cleary, and RT Ryan Seymour – as the Giants were clearly trying to determine which linemen were the most versatile. Later Gettis played center and Jones left guard. I’m not sure there is a viable NFL player in this group. Gettis in particular struggled in pass protection. The interior had issues identifying inside dogs. Hart couldn’t make his block on a running play that lost three yards and didn’t appear very physical or powerful overall playing on the left side. He later gave up a sack on 3rd-and-2 in the 4th quarter. Cleary was flagged with a holding penalty on a running play in the 3rd quarter.

The tight ends did a much better job of blocking this week. That said, I would like to see Donnell sustain his blocks longer and keep his man out of the play. In the receiving department, Donnell was targeted three times with one catch for 30 yards. Jerell Adams had one pass thrown in his direction but did not have a reception. Will Tye was not targeted.

Giants on Defense

The Giants sat their best defensive players. Defensive ends Jason Pierre-Paul and Vernon Olivier, defensive tackles Damon Harrison and Johnathan Hanks, and cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie did not play. Neither did the walking wounded: linebacker Jonathan Casillas (ribs), linebacker Jasper Brinkley (knee), linebacker B.J. Goodson (concussion), cornerback Leon Hall (concussion), and safety Darian Thompson (shoulder).

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady played the entire first half against mostly a second- and third-team Giants defense that performed admirably well. In six first-half Patriots drives, the Giants forced three turnovers and allowed only one scoring drive: a 9-play, 67-yard effort that ended with a 7-yard touchdown pass by Brady. The 2-point conversion attempt failed.

The Giants defensive reserves remained stingy in the second half, allowing only one scoring drive: a 16-play, 66-yard march that resulted in a 32-yard field goal. Three other drives ended with punts and one drive on downs.

Defensive Line

With the entire starting defensive line sitting, the starters on Thursday night were left defensive end Kerry Wynn, defensive tackles Louis Nix and Jermelle Cudjo, and right defensive end Owamagbe Odighizuwa. Wynn got a few good early pass pressures on Brady and finished with two QB hits. Romeo Okwara also continued to flash with his pass rush. Odighiuwa had two quarterback hits as did Montori Hughes, Stansly Maponga, and Jay Bromley. In all, the Giants reserve defensive line had an astounding 11 quarterback hits (this doesn’t count numerous other QB pressures). For example, Okwara got good pressure on the Patriots failed 2-point conversion attempt.

Hughes also recovered a fumble. Odighizuwa tipped a pass. Wynn forced a fumble ending a Patriots drive deep in Giants territory, hustling all of the way from the opposite side of the field. Cudjo penetrated to tackle the running back for a 3-yard loss in the 2nd quarter and chased down the back for a 2-yard loss in the 3rd quarter. An unblocked Okwara picked up a sack after the former play by Cudjo.

In the 3rd quarter, Jay Bromley and Louis Nix combined to nail the back for a 1-yard loss. Hughes also looked good stuffing one inside run and had a 4th quarter sack. Cudjo tipped a 3rd down pass early in the 4th quarter on a play where Odighizuwa smashed into the quarterback.

Linebackers

Jonathan Casillas (ribs), Jasper Brinkley (knee), and B.J. Goodson (concussion) did not play. The Giants started the game in their nickel package with linebackers Kelvin Sheppard and Keenan Robinson on the field.

Sheppard was flagged with a defensive holding call on an incomplete 3rd-and-13 pass. Robinson followed this up with nice coverage on TE Martellus Bennett who was split out wide. On the Patriots scoring drive, it appeared that Sheppard got illegally picked on a 30-yard reception by the running back. Mark Herzlich recovered a fumble in the 2nd quarter and ran through the blocking back for a 7-yard sack in the 3rd quarter. Herzlich had a shot at another sack on the next series but overran the QB who scrambled for a 12-yard gain. Two plays later, the Pats back broke off a 16-yard run as he squirted past Herzlich who got blocked on the left-side run. Later on this drive he was flagged with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for a late hit. J.T. Thomas seemed a step slow this week both against the run and the pass. Brad Bars simply doesn’t look athletic enough in space.

Nat Berhe, New York Giants (September 1, 2016)

Nat Berhe – © USA TODAY Sports Images

Defensive Backs

Starting corners Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were healthy scratches. Cornerback Leon Hall (concussion) and safety Darian Thompson (shoulder) also did not play.

Starting the game at corner were Eli Apple, Trevin Wade, and Donte Deayon (nickel). Landon Collins started at strong safety and Nat Berhe at free safety.

Wade and Apple had strong games. Wade expertly caused a 3-yard loss on a WR-screen on the Patriots’ first offensive snap. Apple then had excellent deep coverage on WR Julian Edelman deep. A few snaps later, Wade did a tremendous job of reading the route, reacting to the throw, and coming away with an interception of Tom Brady. Later in the quarter, Deayon gave up a 16-yard reception on 3rd-and-7. Collins did a nice job of reading a short 3rd-and-2 pass but misplayed the ball on a play where he should have picked off Brady and possibly scored. Later in the 1st quarter, Wade made a sure tackle in space after a short throw. Apple had solid deep coverage on the very next snap. The Patriots finished up this drive with a touchdown when Apple got hung up with Adam Andrews with two Pats receivers bunched to one side.

Safety Andrew Adams was credited with a forced fumble, but the intended receiver really just dropped the ball on his own. Corner Michael Hunter got beat on a slant and then a 38-yard deep pass in the 2nd quarter, though he stayed with his man on another deep shot into the end zone on the next snap and later knocked down another Brady deep pass on 3rd-and-20. Deayon missed a couple of tackles after the catch in the 3rd quarter. Corner Leon McFadden got successfully targeted a couple of times and was fortunate he wasn’t called for pass interference on a late deep shot into the end zone on 4th-and-1.

Giants on Special Teams

Josh Brown did not play as the Giants prepped Randy Bullock for the opener. Three-of-four of Bullock’s kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. The Patriots returned one kickoff 25 yards, but they were holding on the play. Bullock also made his only field goal effort: a 25-yarder.

Bobby Rainey returned two punts, one for 13 yards and one for three yards. He returned one kickoff for 32 yards. Dwayne Harris did not return any punts or kickoffs.

Brad Wing punted seven times, averaging 44.1 yards per punt with one touchback and one punt downed at the 6-yard line. Punt coverage continues to remain a problem as the Giants allowed a 34 yard punt return with the gunner, Tavarres King, missing the initial tackle.

(New England Patriots at New York Giants, September 1, 2016)