This wraps up Training Camp leading into the first Pre-Season game. Sunday is the last Open Practice for the fans but once the pre-season starts everything begins falling into place. Friday night the first team is looking to get about 25 snaps and Eli Manning may only be out for the first drive. What's important in evaluation of this team from the perspective of the Coaching Staff, certainly Management and for those serious Giants fans who bleed blue and live and breathe Football 24/7/365? It's the player evaluation not just for starting roles but for the all important buzz word...DEPTH.
We saw quite a bit of the second and third team players today, not necessarily by design but if you think about it these are the players who will be featured in this first pre-season game and they do need to know what they’re doing. The Giants have a lot of film on these players so that when it comes cut time August 30th to get to 75 the best decisions can be made. Even more so by 4 pm September 3rd for the final cut down to the final 53. When you reflect on it, there are several slots that are still open to competition and that would include almost all position groups.
Rich (MightyGiants) and I spent many hours this past week discussing the possibilities. Among them is what is to become of the Full Back Position in light of the fact that Will Tye, Will Johnson and other TE’s were lined up in the backfield this past week. In formations where there was a lone Running Back, often there was a 2 Tight End Set or a 12 Formation. The Tight End Position saw a lot of targets so far and it will be interesting to see if Nikita Whitlock and the traditional Full Back role is becoming a thing of the past.
To illustrate an example, going into camp there were many questions about the depth behind the Defensive Line starters of Vernon, Hankins, Harrison and JPP. Jay Bromley was unable to compete with the other players as he rehabbed that injured ankle. Does his inability to get on the practice field make him vulnerable to being cut? Especially when his dead cap number is a measly $321K. Did you know that there are only 25 players with a Dead Cap of $500 Thousand or more? That means that 28 players are not indispensable. The Giants are $16.6 million under the cap with the top 51 players. There is a lot of room for movement.
Another point to consider is the impact Special Teams will have on the final 53. Speaking of Special Teams, I just have to mention a play where Eli Apple in the Gunner’s role streaked to the ball carrier leading the pack to what surely would have been a bang bang laying wood on the ball carrier play. Eli Apple is the Giants number one draft pick and here he is not only matching step for step with some of the best receivers in the league but going all out on Special Teams. I know Annie Apple is proud of her son and I know many Giants fans are soon to follow. These are the kind of players that teams need to have in order to achieve greatness. It’s not just the Franchise QB, it’s players like Weston Richburg and John Jerry who spend their off-season honing their craft. It’s players like Andre Williams who is the first player out in practice knowing he has to improve his hands, it’s the work that Odell puts in to keeping his edge, it’s Rashad Jennings warming up 15 minutes before the team comes out in order to protect his body. It’s players who show they are not larger than life because they have a title #1 Draft pick. It’s players like Eli Apple.
In speaking with Roman Oben this morning, he was looking forward to the pre-season and game competition to answer some questions as we were discussing the Offensive Line. I know that I have a lot of unanswered questions about the ability of the right side to run the ball and if it’s safe to put the swing tackle position in the hands of Bobby Hart. Roman Oben knows his football. There will be a lot to be learned this Friday Night.
Keep in mind folks that injuries are a reality in this 16 game season and the teams with the best depth win games. A reminder of what happened last season when OBJ didn’t play or when Schwartz and Beatty never came back or when the Cornerback and Safety positions were decimated with injury and street free agents had to get off their couches to dress for a game. What happens if Leon Hall gets hurt and DRC is out for a game and can’t play? Is Trevin Wade next man up in the rotation or is there a player out of the list of Deayon, Hunter, Smalley and McFadden that needs to make the cut? Yesterday Landon Collins went down for a brief moment and the thought about next man up was wrought with dread. Do the Coaches really know if Berhe is ready? Will Darian Thomas deliver as advertised? Out of Coop, Currie, Jackson and Thomas…who do you cut and who do you keep?
That’s why the pre-season games are so important. It’s to sort out whether Tavarres King is a camp flash in the pan. Let’s face it. There are only 5 receiver positions and good players don’t sit on the practice squad. Keep in mind that there will be film on many players who will get cut from other teams. There are always several that wind up on the Giants practice squad. Will one of those players make the 53 man Roster? Never say never.
With Jerry Reese having much to prove this year after four horrible losing seasons and a new Head Coach with Ownership having a vested interest in his success after cutting a beloved Tom Coughlin, don’t be surprised to see a few new faces on paper. It’s a pivotal time for some players and of those who need to prove their worth not just to the team but to the Coaches and Management as well.