Andre Brown (35) of the New York Giants runs the ball during practice at New Meadowlands Sports Complex on August 8, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
I am not going to try my hand a 53-man roster prediction just yet. But, with the New York Giants playing their first preseason game Saturday against Carolina I thought what I would do today is take a look at some of the primary position battles that will ultimately shape the roster that faces the Redskins in Washington on Sept. 11.
We know Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs will be the one-two punch, of course. Question is, who will be the third back? DJ Ware is the third back, but as much as the Giants have talked about his potential the gut feeling here is that Ware will have a tough time holding the job without some excellent work in the preseason games. Andre Brown, back with the Giants after a year-long NFL odyssey, has been drawing raves. Seventh-round pick Da'Rel Scott has speed that is tough to ignore. Charles Scott has impresses with some shifty footwork. That's four players probably fighting for one spot. Right now, no clue who emerges.
As for fullback, it will be a monumental upset at this point if rookie undrafted free agent Henry Hynoski does not make the team.
I wrote the other day about the fight for the No. 3 spot behind Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham. The Giants have 12 wide receivers in camp, and generally would keep no more than six. Of those 12, you would have to think Samuel Giguere and Todd Watkins have little to no chance of making the final roster. That leaves10 players for six, maybe seven spots, not even counting the possible return at some point of free-agent Steve Smith.
Nicks, Manningham, and third-round pick Jerrel Jernigan are locks. I would guess Domenik Hixon is also a lock, provided he shows during preseason that he is fully recovered from the knee injury that cost him all of the 2010 season.Victor Cruz is probably also a sure thing, especially since offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride has apparently been talking about him as though he could emerge with the third wide receiver job.
That leaves Devin Thomas, Michael Clayton, Duke Calhoun, Darius Reynaud and Ramses Barden fighting for roster spots -- or fighting to knock Hixon off the team if the Giants have any questions about his recovery. Thomas has thus far been the most impressive and Barden, a third-round pick in 2009, remains the player of this bunch the Giants have the most invested in. But, the guy can't stay on the PUP list forever if he wants to make the team, much less actually find a real role as part of the offense. Reynaud has also been better than expected thus far in camp. Clayton's experience helps him, and the fact that the Giants like Calhoun's coverage skills works in his favor.
It's anybody's guess how this works out. There might be questions about who will be No. 3, but the Giants really do have an embarrassment of riches in terms of the depth of the options they possess at this spot.
Linebackers coach Jim Herrmann has added Mathias Kiwanuka to his charges, and he has been effusive thus far during training camp in praise of his young linebackers.
The starters, of course, are Kiwanuka, Michael Boley and Jonathan Goff. The Giants drafted Greg Jones and Jacquian Williams. They have holdovers Clint Sintim (second-round pick, 2009), Phillip Dillard (fourth round, 2010) and Adrian Tracy (sixth round, 2010). They have free agents Mark Herzlich, Stephen Paysinger and Kenny Ingram fighting for jobs, and all impressing at various times.
Ingram and Paysinger would probably be least likely to make the roster, though practice squad invites would bot be out of the question. There are probably seven spots here, maybe eight. Here's a question for you to ponder. With all of the young talent coming up behind him would the Giants actually cut ties with Sintim? It's not like Jerry Reese to move on from a high draft pick so quickly, but if Herzlich, Tracy and others impress during preseason I guess anything would be possible.
Will the Giants keep just two quarterbacks, as they have in recent years? Will they use the new rules, allowing 46 players active on gam days including three QBs, to keep an extra one? If they keep only two, I'm betting David Carr gets the backup job over Sage Rosenfels simply because he is signed to a contract for less than a million dollars while Rosenfels would make about $3 million to back up Eli Manning.
They could keep both veterans and try to get strong-armed young Ryan Perrilloux to the practice squad.
With Kevin Boss gone to Oakland I actually think this is pretty cut and dried, but I will bring it up, anyway. Travis Beckum is making the team and will -- I believe -- become an important weapon for Manning this season. Bear Pascoe should make the squad as the primary blocking tight end. The only real question here is whether Jake Ballard can force his way onto the roster as third tight end, or find a way to push Pascoe off of it.