Before the Giant take the field on Thursday night for their preseason final against the Patriots, head coach Tom Coughlin has a very stern message for those players who are on the bubble.
“The message is this: there’s two practices, a game, look at the tape, and cut to 53,” he said on Monday afternoon. “If you’re going to make a move, if you’re going to show something, there’s not a lot of time. But what opportunity you get to step on the field on Thursday night, I’m hoping for your benefit that it’s a good one.”
So that’s where we are now, as the focus of Thursday’s game will be to resolve the rest of the roster. So let’s look at some of the remaining battles that could be resolved on Thursday night.
Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, and Johnathan Hankins are most likely lock. So who then, from Shaun Rogers, Mike Patterson, and Marvin Austin gets the projected fourth spot? Do they go with youth in the under whelming but talented Austin, or do they add another veteran presence to that position?
There was a time when I thought the Giants might keep four tight ends, but that was earlier in camp. They might still try to if Larry Donnell has a whale of a game against the Patriots. Donnell has talent, but has been inconsistent the last couple of weeks, including having some dropped passes.
The first four spots should be set with Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, and Louis Murphy (assuming Murphy’s leg injury isn’t season-ending). So who gets the fifth spot? Ramses Baden? Jerrel Jernigan? Kevin Hardy? Will maybe two of those three make it and Murphy ends up on IR?
Hardy will get his chances in the slot, as will Jernigan. Where Jernigan can pull ahead in this race is on special teams if he’s given any return opportunities.
Thanks to injuries to David Diehl and David Baas, the Giants have a few extra questions along this unit that weren’t previously there. The first question they’ll need to answer is whether to use the short-term IR designation on Diehl, who would then have to miss the first six weeks of the season.
If they do, who grabs that roster spot? Stephen Goodin? Jim Cordle? Eric Herman? And will the Giants keep an extra lineman due to the Baas injury?
The loss of Stevie Brown and the looming suspension of Will Hill hit this unit hard. The Giants will likely keep four at this spot, the first three being Antrel Rolle, Ryan Mundy, and Tyler Sash.
Does Cooper Taylor, who missed so much time, make it or des he slide to IR and does a veteran come in off waivers? The answer will likely depend on if Taylor gets on the field on Thursday night, and how well he does.
Five cornerbacks is usually the norm, and the projected five would be Corey Webster, Prince Amukamara, Jayron Hosley, Aaron Ross, and Terrell Thomas. But if Charles James has another strong showing, do you look to keep him as a sixth corner and backup punt returner, especially give Hosley’s ankle injury?
The first three slots are set with Justin Tuck, Jason Pierre-Paul, and Mathias Kiwanuka. What do the Giants do with Damontre Moore, who hasn’t played since the preseason opener and who just this week returned to practice ?
If you make the argument that Taylor missed too much time and should be IRed, then can you also make that argument for Moore and leave Jenkins as the swing DE/DT, which, in turn, would allow them to keep an extra defensive tackle? Or do you keep Moore on the final 53 on the assumption that he showed enough against the Steelers?
And if you do IR Moore, which I don’t think happens, who from Adrian Tracy, Justin Trattou, and Adewale Ojomo do you keep?
The Giants will probably keep three, but the question is will it be David Carr or Curtis Painter?
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It’s a lot of questions with many intriguing possibilities. Injuries could and will sway some decisions, but more so, player performance will go a long way toward finding the answers to these questions. I’ll have a ‘final 53’ prediction