QB Keeping 2: In 2011, NFL teams now have the luxury of dressing 46 players on game day. This essentially means that the 3rd string QB is no longer an “emergency option.” The Giants have chosen to forgo the 3rd QB all together since 2008, and I’m not so sure that changes this season. Obviously Eli is the number 1, but he heads up a current corps of 4 talented signal callers.
David Carr (first pick ever of the Houston Texans in 2002) is my favorite to win the job, and not just because he is less expensive than the other veteran alternative. Yes he is about 2 million cheaper than Sage Rosenfels, but he is also equally talented and more versatile. Quite frankly, I expected him to win the starting job in San Francisco last year and I still think he will be a starter again in this league before he retires. Rosenfels may also be trade bait for another CB (more later).
I don’t see Ryan Perrilloux, the raw first year player out of LSU/Jacksonville State making the team despite the new accommodation on gamedays for QBs. The roster is too tight in other areas to find room for a project at a position with an established starter.
HB Keeping 5 : In an offseason plagued by a startling lack of depth at many positions, the RB stable is as deep as ever. Ahmad Bradshaw is still the top guy and Brandon Jacobs is the 2 in the 1-2 punch combo. Behind them sits a guy that I had written off a couple weeks ago.
I admit that I was wrong about DJ Ware. It was my opinion that he had had several opportunities to make an impact already and had failed to do so. This preseason however, he has come to play. He looks good as both a runner and a receiving option. Against Chicago he did make a stupid reach on what would have been a 1st and goal anyway, that led to a fumble. Luckily, the fumble was overturned and he got an opportunity to punch it in. Overall, he was solid on the drive.
Ware will be pushed though by Andre Brown and Da’Rel Scott. Brown is back with the team after journeying throughout the league. He seems completely healed from the Achilles tear that cost him his rookie year. He has yet to break a big run but he always gains a few tough yards and has a way of turning nothing into something. He could definitely come in handy when the injury bug starts to bite the RB depth in front of him. It almost certainly will at some point.
Scott, isn’t yet ready to make a big contribution. Yes he had a 97 yard burner for a TD against Chicago’s D squad on Monday but it takes more than blazing speed to make a run like that happen during the regular season. That said, he has a lot of potential and he wouldn’t last a week on the practice squad. Giants need to keep him locked up. I see them keeping all 5 of these backs. They did the same thing in 2008 when they wanted to retain both DJ Ware and Reuben Droughns, despite being so deep already that now starter Ahmad Bradshaw barely saw the field behind Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs.
WR Keeping 6: I know it stung Sunday night when Plaxico Burress made his triumphant return wearing a Jets uniform. You may or may not have felt better when Victor Cruz climbed a ladder to reel in a 4th down catch to keep a drive alive. I did feel better, but it doesn’t mean that I’m 100% satisfied with the receiving corps.
Overall, I think they look very promising. Technically, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham are the 1&2 on the depth chart but Manningham will be moved around in various packages. Behind them is Victor Cruz and Domenik Hixon who both made nice grabs against Chicago. Cruz’s play on kick coverage I helping solidify his chances of making this roster.
I’m a bit surprised that Hixon hasn’t been seeing time as a kick/punt returner and perhaps its simply because they don’t want to risk him sustaining an injury in a meaningless game. After watching his performance thus far, I find it hard to believe that Jerrel Jernigan will be manning PR duties come week 1. As far as kick offs go, it looks like Devin Thomas has earned himself a spot on this roster with a 73 yard gallop on Monday night. He has also played well as a receiver and could see some snaps there this season.
What the Giants are missing is a big body. Ramses Barden is still on the PUP list and even during the rare occasions when he’s been healthy during his Giants career, he hasn’t been much of a contributor. With a corps of undersized receivers they could use his 6-6 frame, especially since they no longer have a big body TE in Boss. That said, he isn’t on the field.
The good news is that as of yesterday, he seems to be running well on the sidelines. I don’t like the lack of practice time and game experienced logged this offseason, but if he looks like he will be able to contribute at a respectable level this year, the Giants won’t drop the axe on him. I’d love to seem him become a key contributor, but guys like Hixon and Cruz have found ways to make themselves taller when nee be.
Jernigan stays on because he is a mid round draft pick rookie and they tend to get an opportunity regardless of their performance at skill positions. That leaves us with a tight battle at the bottom of the depth chart. Darius Reynaud has actually impressed the coaching staff this year with his play as a true receiver. That said there simply may not be room for another undersized guy behind Cruz and Thomas.
I think Michael Clayton should get a nod here. At 6-3 he is taller than every healthy receiver the Giants currently have. He impressed versus Carolina and Tom Coughlin is high on him. I still miss Derek Hagan who left for Oakland but this guy will do. Clayton could sneak into the final cut, but might get bumped if Barden returns.
TE/FB Keeping 3: Here’s where it gets dicey. The Giants went ahead and started last season with only two TE’s on the roster. Actually they started it with 1 ½ TE’s with Travis Beckum backing up Kevin Boss. Beckum has been frustrating the coaching staff this summer and quite frankly it doesn’t help that he is closer to the size of a punter than he is an NFL TE. They don’t need an extra receiver so he really shouldn’t make this team. Of course the kid has Sinorice Moss written all over him.
But let’s assume the Giants are going to think rationally and either trade or cut Beckum. That means that Bear Pascoe, Jake Ballard, and Henry Hynoski are going to make up this group. I think Pascoe is a solid player and there are rumblings of Ballard’s potential but I’m not sure Hynoski is quite ready to start Week 1.
That means that Pascoe would have to continue to rotate back and forth between both positions and frankly that’s not ideal. What would be ideal is the Giants brining in a veteran TE so that Pascoe can stay at FB fulltime. John Carlson isn’t a lock to make the team in Seattle as Zach Miller could push him and a nagging shoulder injury out of the picture. He would be a great free agent pick up for the Giants who are thin at the position should he get the axe. He had only 4 less receptions than Boss last year (31) and did not have the luxury of a established veteran QB throwing to him.
I’m also tossing out the fantasy world option of trading for Shockey, who now finds himself second fiddle behind Greg Olsen. In a perfect world, Eli would be an actual leader with the ability to take command over a group of professional athletes. But he isn’t, so Shockey is still blacklisted.
Moral of story, the Giants are dangerously thin here. To be fair, they got burned by Ben Patrick’s early retirement and didn’t have the funds to chase down a Vonta Leach caliber FB. But I do not like the Pascoe time split system and a solution needs to be found.
OL Keeping 9: You can never have too many offensive linemen. The starters: Will Beatty, David Diehl, David Baas, Chris Snee, and Kareem McKenzie obviously take up the first five slots. The other four will go to Kevin Boothe, Jamon Meredith, Stacy Andrews, and Mitch Petrus. I see draft pick James Brewer hitting the practice squad, as the Giants openly stated that he is a project and not an immediate contributor.
Boothe gets the nod because he can play center and played well at guard last season when injuries forced him into duty. His case is helped by Adam Koets, who had to go back into surgery this past week because he was healing from his last procedure at an exceptionally slow rate. Koets actually filled in admirably for Shaun O’hara last year, but in keeping with the theme of Giants injuries, tore his ACL against the Seahawks.
He may start the season on PUP, but with David Baas’s arrival, I no longer feel that Koets is the C of the future for the Giants. If he had stayed healthy last season, he just might have been. The Giants are high on Petrus and he’s been compared to Rich Seubert. He has a lot of potential and displays excellent hustle. Meredith is a solid reserve at tackle and is actually a key cog in the Giants jumbo packages. Since they lack TE depth, Meredith is brought in to help seal off the edges.
The last spot I admit is a tight battle (in my opinion) between Stacy Andrews and Chris White. They are both experienced veterans. Yes, the Giants would rather have Stacy’s brother but that option was just not financially feasible. Neither has really stood out during the preseason…but that may be a good thing at this position. I’m going to give the tiebreaker to Andrews because of his name and his versatility as both a tackle and guard. But if this went another way, I wouldn’t be shocked.
DE Keeping 5: The crux of the whole operation, the DE’s look lean and mean once again. They brought back Dave Tollefson and Osi is staying in town. So add in the Week 1 starters (JPP and Justin Tuck) and you have yourself a phenomenal stable right there.
I’m counting Mathias Kiwanuka as a LB although he will certainly be used as a DE in certain situations. If he can stay healthy, he gives the Giants much needed versatility. You could argue that the Giants don’t need to retain 5 individual DE’s because of Kiwi’s presence but I really like what I’ve seen from the deeper reserves this preseason. Also, keep in mind that Osi won’t be available immediately due to some minor knee surgery.
I think Alex Hall gets a nod here. At the very least, he deserves one. He has looked sharp and if he doesn’t get an opportunity here, he has a good shot of landing a job somewhere else. I see him being on the bubble and a decision to add a surplus at another position (such as keeping both Clayton and Barden) might force the Giants to cut him.
DT Keeping 4: The Giants can afford to be a bit shallower here because of their DE depth. They often utilize 3 DE’s and one true DT or less. Chris Canty is the top guy here and the second spot has yet to be determined. Marvin Austin had a fair shot at it earlier in camp but now his development is put on hold thanks to a season ending pectoral tear.
The real fight is between Linval Joseph and Rocky Bernard for playing time. Bernard is a savvier vet, but the coaching staff feels that Joseph has come a long way since his “redshirt” rookie year. At this point, I’d say it is anyone’s game.
I think the final spot will go to a resurging (at least according to him) Jimmy Kennedy. Kennedy was recently brought in but he claims is healthier than he has been in recent years. Therefore, is ready to take a major step forward in terms of production. The Giants would love for him to be correct. I see him getting the benefit of the doubt over a lackluster preseason performance by the 333 lb Gabe Watson.
Don’t count out Dwayne Hendricks though. He’s a long shot but he seems to have the raw potential you hope to see from first year players.
LB Keeping 7: A unit that was heavily criticized this summer, the LB corps is shaping up. Reese expressed confidence in a group of mostly inexperienced/rookie players and he may just be on to something.
The only established veteran linebacker is Boley who has had a good preseason. After two years of making little noise (other than breaking Tony Romo’s clavicle) Boley ended the first preseason defensive drive with a pick-6. Kiwanuka is an established veteran but has played mostly at DE. I was skeptical on naming him a starter at ROLB, but if the Chicago game is any indication, the Giants might have made the right call.
Jonathan Goff is entrenched as the starter this year at MLB. He has great awareness and physical ability. I think he can eventually develop into a star at that spot.
The real story is the reserves. They just cut Kenny Ingram who at one point had a legitimate shot to make the roster. This was primarily because despite being a training camp body for the past 3 years in NY, he was a vet compared to his competition. Right now the frontrunners to make the squad at 2nd string are three talented rookies.
If you were watching against Chicago, you saw Mark Herzlich’s interception and Greg Jones’s blocked punt. You saw Jacquian Williams’s nullified TD off that blocked punt and his good special teams coverage. The last two of those three are locks because they are draft picks. Herzlich isn’t a lock but he’s close to it. He could develop into a first round caliber player. Way too much potential there to just release him.
Clint Sintim is there and has been adequate. But he is coming off a late season ACL tear that he suffered last December. He is a physical specimen but he still hasn’t given the Giants what they wanted out of him. Yes he can play, but if there is a higher level for him to reach, his knee will probably need more time to heal before he can find it. I think he is the 7th LB they keep unless they trade him for another corner. Rumor has it that the Ravens would be interested in him and Rosenfels in exchange for CB Domonique Foxworth.
I don’t think Adrian Tracy has made enough noise to warrant a roster spot and while they are high on Spencer Paysinger’s potential, he seems like a prime practice squad candidate. Phillip Dillard spent time on the main roster last season and was involved in the goal line stand Monday night. He is in the running and I haven't entirely ruled him out. I just have a gut feeling that if it came down to him and Sintim, Sintim would win out. Of course, while he only has a modicum of professional experience, he still is the most veteran backup MLB that the Giants have. Could get interesting here.
Remember, Zak DeOssie is officially listed as LB but in reality he is purely a LS. Thus, I count him as a special teams player. As long as we are getting technical, Kiwanuka is still listed as a DE but I wouldn’t read too far into that. He’s a linebacker until further notice.
DB Keeping 9: When I started gathering my thoughts for this piece, obviously this section looked quite different. But now, Terrell Thomas and Brian Witherspoon are out. Brian Williams is in. I’d like to think Foxworth is on his way, but I’m not betting on it.
I’m optimistic that Aaron ross is finally ready to earn the title, “First Round Pick” but that doesn’t mean losing T2 won’t hurt. Corey Webster is obviously the other starter and the nickel job is technically open (it will go to Williams). Michael Coe didn’t look great in coverage Monday night and he will need to step up his game.
The Giants are weak at corner but strong at safety. They enjoy the luxury of 3 starting caliber players in Antrel Rolle, Kenny Phillips, and Deon Grant. Rolle may even fill in at corner in certain situations if the Giants are desperate for help there this year.
Tyler Sash looked dreadful against Carolina but he stepped it up in Game 2. He makes this team and can develop into a strong contributor. I think the right move is to start Prince Amukamara on PUP and then waive Coe when he is ready to contribute mid season. So I am not counting him against the 53 yet. I think they would be wise to retain Brian Jackson or another reserve CB until Prince is ready to be a part of the active main roster. That brings the total to 9. Don’t forget the outside chance that Foxworth is brought in. Anyway you slice it, they will have 9 DBs Week 1.
ST Keeping 3: I cannot believe that I am saying this but, Matt Dodge makes this team over Steve Weatherford. Weatherford came in with a very confident attitude. He seemed to feel the job was already won on December 19th. But Dodge has booted some monsters. Yes his directional kicking still needs work, but his leg is hard to ignore. Its not so much that I see him being better than Weatherford, I just have a hard time imagining the Giants releasing drafted talent. This will be a close, close race. I’m not saying I prefer Dodge. At least I’m not saying that yet. I just think the Giants will lean towards their investment.
Lawrence Tynes is injured. His competition is Rhys Lloyd who can put almost any kickoff past the end zone. Only problem is, so can most kickers with the new ball placement. Also, he has very minimal FG kicking experience. That said, Tynes has been less than stellar. If he can’t get healthy, the Giants may give Lloyd the nod.
As I said earlier, DeOssie is the LS.
Bubble: The players that the Giants may try to find room for in ways that will throw off my numbers are Ryan Perrilloux, Michael Clayton, Dwayne Hendricks, Phillip Dillard, and CB Brian Jackson.
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