With NFL teams needing to get to the 53-man roster limit Saturday, here is one final projection for what I think the New York Giants roster could look like.
To be honest, I feel like I'm on a little shaky ground as I do this. There are several positions in flux, at least in my mind, and the Giants could be fairly active with waiver-wire pickups over the weekend. So, let's just see how close I can get.
Quarterbacks (2) -- Eli Manning, Rhett Bomar
Analysis -- Opportunity knocked for Bomar this preseason, and he has taken advantage of it. With Manning sidelined for a game and Jim Sorgi landing on Injured Reserve, the second-year player from Sam Houston State has done enough to earn this job. He is a work in progress, sure, and if the right veteran falls from the tree of an NFL roster it would not be shocking for the Giants to make a move there. Remember, however, that the Giants have been trying for years to develop a young backup quarterback of their own. Bomar could be that guy.
Running Backs (5) -- Ahmad Bradshaw, Brandon Jacobs, Andre Brown, Gartrell Johnson, Madison Hedgecock
Analysis -- Sorry, D.J. Ware. You had a nice game Thursday night, but your time has come and gone. The key indicator for me is that Ware, who returned some kickoffs last season, has not gotten any opportunities there at all. Gartrell Johnson has been the lead blocker on kickoffs the entire preseason. Johnson ran well last night, made a nice tackle on special teams and did a good job picking up blitzers, particularly on the game-winning touchdown pass. Andre Brown has earned his opportunity, even if turf toe sidelines him for Week 1.
Wide Receivers (6) -- Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham, Victor Cruz, Derek Hagan, Ramses Barden.
Analysis -- I really had hopes Tim Brown would show enough to make the final roster, but it just did not happen. Barden is sixth on the list right now, and at this point it looks like he might spend a lot of Sundays inactive again.
Tight Ends (3) -- Kevin Boss, Bear Pascoe, Scott Chandler
Analysis -- Yes, Scott Chandler as the third tight end instead of Travis Beckum. No, I don't think the Giants are giving up on Beckum. Just a suspicion here that Beckum winds up on Injured Reserve. He has barely practiced most of the preseason, and whenever he does he seems to wind up sidelined again with some type of neck ailment. Whatever is going on with the guy, it's tough to give a roster spot to a backup who can't even get on the practice field. IR would be a logical option. I'm curious about the medical reports on Beckum over the next day or so, because this one will change if the Giants believe Beckum is healthy enough.
Offensive Linemen (9) -- Starters: David Diehl, Rich Seubert, Shaun O'Hara, Chris Snee, Kareem McKenzie. Reserves: Will Beatty, Mitch Petrus, Shawn Andrews, Adam Koets
Analysis -- A lot of things clarified themselves about this group Thursday night. Shawn Andrews could be a beast once he learns the offense. Adam Koets is making the team. Somehow, Guy Whimper might still find a roster spot -- I just can't figure out how. Jacob Bender, a guy we have not talked about the entire preseason, may find his way to the practice squad.
Defensive Line (9) -- Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Osi Umenyiora, Jason Pierre-Paul, Dave Tollefson, Chris Canty, Barry Cofield, Linval Joseph, Rocky Bernard
Analysis -- I just can't see any possible way the Giants can keep 10 defensive linemen. Which means, unfortunately, Jay Alford is the odd man out. When preseason started I would have said Rocky Bernard would lose his spot, but Bernard started Thursday night and has made some nice plays in all four of the preseason games. He has to stay. Dave Tollefson has to stay, as well, since he is a key special teams guy.
Linebackers (7) -- Michael Boley, Keith Bulluck, Jonathan Goff, Clint Sintim, Gerris Wilkinson, Phillip Dillard, Chase Blackburn
Analysis -- Before Thursday night, I though Bryan Kehl's roster spot was in serious jeopardy. Nine tackles later, including one on a goal-line stand from inside the one, I still think Kehl goes and Blackburn stays. It could be Wilkinson as odd man out, but we will see.
Cornerbacks (4) -- Corey Webster, Terrell Thomas, Aaron Ross, Bruce Johnson
Analysis -- I fully expect the Giants to have five corners when the season opens against Carolina. I just don't expect the fifth corner to come from anyone on the current roster. Simply, D.J. Johnson, Seth Williams and Courtney Brown are not -- in my eyes -- worthy of NFL roster spots.
Safeties (5) -- Antrel Rolle, Deon Grant, Kenny Phillips, Michael Johnson, Sha'reef Rashad
Analysis -- Obviously, we know who the big three are at safety. I had been convinced prior to Thursday that Michael Johnson's days were numbered, but he played fairly well against the Patriots. In addition, neither Sha'reef Rashad nor John Busing have really been impressive. I have Rashad on the 53-man right now, but if I was him I would be nervous. He could be the odd man out when (yes, when, not if) the Giants grab a veteran cornerback off the waiver wire. Or, for that matter, if the Giants want to keep Whimper or Alford.
Specialists (3) -- Punter, Matt Dodge; Placekicker, Lawrence Tynes; Long snapper, Zak DeOssie
Analysis -- The only question mark is Dodge. I think he has shown enough improvement throughout camp to earn the job. If he struggles, though, the Giants won't hesitate to replace him during the season.
First, I fully expect the Giants to be active on the waiver wire. A kick returner, a cornerback, maybe a backup quarterback are all among the possibilities.
Second, since the Practice Squad question always comes up, here are the basics of the Practice Squad rules from the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
- Practice Squads consist of up to eight players.
- Practice Squad players are free to sign with other teams during the season, provided they are placed on that team's 53-man roster.
- A player cannot serve more than two seasons on an NFL Practice Squad.
- To be eligible for a Practice Squad a player must a) have less than one full season of NFL experience on an active roster b) free-agent players who have been on an Active List for fewer than nine NFL games.
By the way, if you were so incline you could read the entire CBA here.