EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - The Giants open the preseason on Friday night, just two weeks after they opened camp. And with a veteran team with few training camp battles, very little has changed.
In those few battles, though, some very clear lines have been drawn. The action in the preseason games will determine everything of course, but as the games begin, here's a look at where the action stands in the five big battles I identified (hand handicapped) before camp began:
SAFETY: Darian Thompson vs. Andrew Adams
This stands exactly as it did before training camp began -- with Thompson holding a clear edge over the man who replaced him when he got hurt last season. The Giants do like Adams, but they absolutely love Thompson and have raved about how comfortable he seems with the starters after basically missing all of last season. It would take a huge surprise in the preseason - or an injury - for Adams or Nat Berhe or anyone to claim his spot. One of them still could convince the Giants to play them in three-safety defensive schemes. But the Giants seem to like their depth at corner much better than their depth at safety. If they're going to overload the defensive backfield, they'll likely do it with corners instead.
NEW OUTLOOK: Same as the old outlook. Expect Thompson to win the starting job, and it likely won't be close.
RIGHT TACKLE: Bobby Hart vs. Adam Bisnowaty (and maybe D.J. Fluker)
First of all, forget Fluker. He has taken a few snaps at right tackle early in camp, but the Giants appear to believe his best position is guard. If he's going to compete for a starting job, it will be at right guard against John Jerry -- and there's no indication yet that's a competitive spot. Which leaves Hart and Bisnowaty, and it's not much of a contest there. The Giants are absolutely intent on going with Hart and Ereck Flowers as their tackles. They believe in their potential and their chance to take a big step this season. It's hard to evaluate the 6-5, 334-pound Hart in practice where the hitting is light (and sometimes non-existent). The games will tell the story. But he's definitely more polished and ready than Bisnowaty (6-6, 304), who will almost certainly spend the year as a backup and special teamer, barring injury.
NEW OUTLOOK: It was Hart's job to lose and he's done nothing to lose it so far. He's got a lot of leeway, too, because the Giants seem more committed than ever to letting him develop.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: Dalvin Tomlinson vs. Robert Thomas vs. Jay Bromley
This was always the most open and competitive spot on the roster, and it actually seems even more competitive than everyone thought. The long-term prognosis is still the same: Dalvin Tomlinson, the Giants' second-round pick, is still the future. But he's really impressed the coaching staff early and they might not wait long to get him into the starting lineup. He certainly has a higher ceiling than Thomas or Bromley. The surprising player has been Bromley, a third-rounder from 2014 who had struggled in his first three seasons. He's having a good, strong camp and was even listed as the starter on the Giants' first, unofficial depth chart. He knows it's his last chance to prove his worth and he's playing like it.
NEW OUTLOOK: Tomlinson is coming on strong and if he's close to being ready at all, the Giants won't hesitate to put him in the starting lineup. But for the moment, it looks like Bromley, in a surprise, has the edge for the starting job. Don't rule out a scenario where Bromley and Tomlinson -- and perhaps even Thomas, to a point -- rotate in and out of this spot.
KICKER: Aldrick Rosas vs. any available kicker
The "any available kicker" turned out to be veteran Mike Nugent, who signed with the Giants last week. That was hardly a surprise. It never made sense that the Giants were willing to ride a 22-year-old kicker with no NFL experience without even testing him a little bit in camp. So far, Rosas has responded well in camp, showing off his strong leg and accuracy. The games will be important in this battle. Also important: The Giants' nerves and stomach. If everything is equal, the big question is whether this Super Bowl-ready team is willing to trust a young, unproven kicker, or whether they'd feel better having a veteran who has done it before. That's a question only Ben McAdoo can answer right now.
NEW OUTLOOK: The games will tell the story here, but there's nothing to indicate Rosas can't handle the competition. If he kicks well in games, the Giants will probably let him be their Opening Day kicker, and they'll keep Nugent on speed dial. But if Rosas gives them any reason to doubt him, they'll blink and give Nugent -- or perhaps another veteran -- the job. They won't mess around with a critical spot like this.
BACKUP QUARTERBACK: Josh Johnson vs. Geno Smith
Geno Smith has gone from a low-risk flier to an actual contender for the backup job, and he's looked pretty good, all things considered. For most of the summer so far he's been splitting backup duties with Johnson. He's had his good days and bad, same as Johnson, but his arm looks strong and he looks as athletic as ever -- impressive considering he's coming back from a torn ACL. The intangibles in this battle remain the same. Smith is younger, more talented, and has more starting experience, but Johnson is the incumbent who knows the offense and has a rapport with Eli Manning. Will the intangibles matter more than what happens in the preseason games? That remains to be seen.
NEW OUTLOOK: The battle is on now that Smith is apparently at full strength. So far it's pretty even. Johnson likely has the edge based on his knowledge of the playbook, but it is almost certainly going to come down to how these two play in what likely will be an equal split of time in preseason games.