The New York Giants have a preseason game in less than a week, believe or not, as they will travel to Foxboro, Mass. to face the New England Patriots on Thursday, Aug. 11. So, as we conclude what is really the second week of training camp with the Friday evening Fan Fest at MetLife Stadium, let’s take stock of the offense.
There will be a corresponding piece coming on the defense, as well.
Starter: Daniel Jones
Backups: Tyrod Taylor, Davis Webb
Let’s start with Daniel Jones. The first few days of training camp were uneven for the fourth-year quarterback. This week, Jones has been much sharper. He threw the ball beautifully on Wednesday, and to my eyes did not make any questionable decisions.
Blips, and some rough days, should be expected. Head coach Brian Daboll said the Giants are still experimenting with passing concepts, trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t work with their personnel. Many of the routes also have options that require communication between quarterback and receiver, and ironing that out will be a work in progress.
“I think that when you go in a film room, and you’re the coordinator or you’re a coach that’s teaching guys, you try not to ride the waves of really play-to-play. Because there’s a lot of good things that happen. You know, the details of the play that guys are doing things well. And you try to be as consistent as you can, whether it’s a completion, an incompletion,” said head coach Brian Daboll. “Why is it an incompletion? You teach it. Why is it complete? It can be a completion, and still the play is not exactly how you need it to be done. The efficiency of it.
“I just try to keep these guys as levelheaded as we can. Find out what we got to fix, and if something’s good, let them know that it’s good. We go out and there’s six incompletions, I don’t really worry about that. Because there’s a lot of things that are going on within the play or the reason for it. And conversely, if the ball doesn’t hit the ground much, that’s fine. But there’ might be some things that, even though it’s a completion, that we really need to get fixed because it’ll cost us as we get going.”
Taylor and Webb have each had some good moments this summer. Taylor throws a nice deep ball and has shown that if he needs to play the Giants will be in capable hands.
Running back (6)
Starter: Saquon Barkley
Backups: Matt Breida, Antonio Williams, Gary Brightwell, Jashaun Corbin, Sandro Platzgummer
Daboll used the word “explosive” recently when talking about how Barkley has looked. The 2018 first-round pick certainly looks better than he did a year ago, when he was working his way back from major knee surgery.
Barkley is being used creatively as a receiver, something we have discussed before. Something that might go under-the-radar with Barkley is that in the run-heavy session of padded practices on Monday and Wednesday, Barkley appeared to be making an effort to take plays where they are designed to go. That’s something he hasn’t always done in the past.
“The last two years not going how I wanted, I kind of have been reflecting on that. Everything happens for a reason; everything happens for a reason. So, the adversity, the injuries that were put in my way these last two years, God has a bigger plan and it’s all going to work out,” Barkley said. “So, coming up on this year, year five, for me I just want to, as I said in my first interview when I talked to you guys this year, I just want to show the (New York) Giants that they guy that they drafted is still here. I can still go out there and make the plays and help my team be successful.”
Tight end (7)
Starter: Daniel Bellinger
Backups: Ricky Seals-Jones, Jordan Akins, Chris Myarick, Jeremiah Hall, Austin Allen, Andre Miller
Bellinger, the rookie fourth-round pick, is the clear starter. After the pre-training camp scare when he was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list with a quad issue, he has been removed from PUP and has worked as the first-team tight end every day.
Bellinger hasn’t been spectacular, but he catches the ball when it comes his way and has enough speed to threaten the seam of the defense.
The backup situation is muddled. Seals-Jones has an unknown injury and has not practiced recently. Akins has been quiet. The only time I noticed Myarick was on Wednesday when he dragged Kayvon Thibodeaux to the ground and got flagged for holding. Of the undrafted trio of Hall, Allen and Miller, Hall has been most impressive and would appear to have the best chance of earning a roster spot.
Wide receivers (14)
Starters: Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, Wan’Dale Robinson
Backups: Alex Bachman, CJ Board, Keelan Doss, Robert Foster, Richie James, Collin Johnson, Marcus Kemp, Austin Proehl, David Sills, Darius Slayton
PUPs: Sterling Shepard
The best thing about training camp thus far? Golladay and Toney, who barely practiced leading up to the season a year ago, have worked every day. Consistent work on the practice field has to give both a chance to be better chance to be productive when the games start in September.
Golladay, a lot like Jones, was up and down the first few practices of camp. He was outstanding on Wednesday, probably the best he has looked since coming to the Giants.
Golladay recently revealed that he spent much of the offseason in New Jersey working with Jones.
“That’s just how much it means to me, to be honest. Just going in the training room doing little stuff, working out here as far as in the weight room and then just throwing with DJ,” Golladay said. “Of course, you take your time off during the week or during the weekend to go do your personal things as far as travel and everything, but I just made a point to myself that I wanted to be up here and just really focus on my body a little bit more.”
Toney has been healthy, happy and productive. His twisting, one-handed touchdown grab the first day of practice might still hold up as the best play of camp thus far.
“I feel like I’m more confident, it’s just all about experience,” Toney said. “Last year, I was just a rookie coming in kind of young and getting to learn everything. This year, second year, so I had experience on the field, had my ups and downs and I’m just here to be who I am.”
Based on how reps have been divided and the special teams ability they possess, James and Board could have the inside track on backup jobs. Collin Johnson has had a productive camp thus far and, as he always does in camp, David Sills has made some plays.
Darius Slayton has had both good and bad moments. I continue to see Slayton as a roster bubble player.
Offensive line (14)
Starters: Andrew Thomas (LT), Shane Lemieux (LG), Jon Feliciano (C), Mark Glowinski (RG), Evan Neal (RT)
Backups: Ben Bredeson, Joshua Ezeudu, Jamil Douglas, Max Garcia, Devery Hamilton, Marcus McKethan, Josh Rivas, Roy Mbaeteka, Garrett McGhin
PUPs: Nick Gates, Matt Peart
Now we get to the stuff that everyone wants to know about. How is the offensive line, revamped for the gazillionth time since the last Super Bowl won by the Giants, doing? Well, let’s start by going player by player across the starting offensive line.
The third-year left tackle is having an excellent camp. He looks healthy after offseason ankle surgery — he has taken a full workload and has not been limited at all. Is Thomas, entering his third season, ready to step up and become an elite left tackle?
“Honestly, I’m just in competition with myself,” Thomas said. “There are a lot of things I saw from last year that I need to clean up and things I need to get better at. Once I put that on film, I think that it will speak for itself.
He looks healthy after missing all but 17 2021 snaps with a patellar tendon injury in his left knee. Lemieux has also taken snaps at center, perhaps a harbinger of a future move to that position.
“I think it was the first day of pads last year was the first day I hurt it (the knee). I don’t think about that. Do you know what I mean? You can’t go in with the mindset of ever thinking in the past or having that in the back of your mind because then you’ll play slow,” Lemieux said. “I’m healthy now and just working on getting better.”
The starting center missed four practices after having a heat/hydration issue at the end of the second practice. His value was shown when Ben Bredeson, Jamil Douglas and Max Garcia all struggled to snap the ball accurately, leading the Giants to experiment with Lemieux at the center spot.
There isn’t really a lot to say about the veteran right guard. Glowinski has been havign a hard time with Leonard Williams, but he’s not alone.
The No. 7 overall pick is having some growing pains. He has looked bad in some of his matchups this week, and Nick Falato looked at some of the reasons why. The big man is immensely athletic and immensely talented, and right now there isn’t any reason to think things won’t get better for him.
“I like to say I’m never going to be a finished product I just want to make sure I’m better than yesterday. At Alabama, Coach (Nick) Saban liked to say, “outork yesterday.” That’s where I’m at really,” Neal said. “I like to say I’m my biggest critic. Nobody can criticize me harder than myself. I focus on the bad stuff, but I’ve also got to acknowledge the good as well because there is good that I do. I just watch the film and I take away from it what I can and just focus on getting better, not making the same mistakes and building off the positive things.”
The issues at the backup center spot have already been discussed. If Feliciano goes down with an injury or simply performs poorly, he won’t be a shocker to see Lemieux at center and rookie Joshua Ezeudu at left guard.
Ezeudu, as he was at North Carolina, has been Mr. Versatility thus far. He has worked at left guard and both tackle spots. He has probably worked at right guard, too, I just don’t recall seeing it.
The loss of Matt Gono leaves the Giants without an experienced swing tackle. If the Giants aren’t sure Ezeudu can handle it, perhaps they will add a veteran for that task when teams trim their rosters at the end of the preseason.