Thoughts on who will, or won't, make the New York Giants' season-opening 53-man roster will change week-to-week due to performances during preseason games, as well as due to injuries.
So, after each preseason game we will offer an updated roster projection. Following is the projection after the Giants' 18-13 preseason-opening victory over the the Pittsburgh Steelers.
QB (3) -- Eli Manning, David Carr, Ryan Nassib
The working theory all along has been that veterans David Carr and Curtis Painter are competing for the No. 2 job, while rookie Ryan Nassib is locked in at No. 3. My belief is Painter has only two ways onto the roster. First is clearly outplaying Carr in the preseason. Second, a serious injury to either Manning or Carr. Neither of those has happened.
RB (3) -- David Wilson, Andre Brown, Michael Cox
First, after what we have seen thus far, it is easy to choose rookie Michael Cox over third-year man Da'Rel Scott. After one game their competition is really no contest. Veteran Ryan Torain missed a lot of the offseason with injuries and missed the first preseason game with a concussion. He isn't giving himself a chance.
Second, you see only three running backs here -- and no fullbacks. This changes if Henry Hynoski is ready to start the season, but right now my belief is that isn't going to happen. Ryan D'Imperio has done a nice job so far and could at least temporarily fill the role of fullback, but off what we have seen thus far there might not be a need for him on the roster. More on that next.
TE (4) -- Brandon Myers, Bear Pascoe, Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell
Tight ends coach Mike Pope insisted during a training camp interview that both Adrien Robinson and Larry Donnell would not only make the roster, but would play. I am starting to believe him.
Donnell has not made the 53-man roster in any previous projection, but after Saturday he does here. He showed the athleticism to play the H-Back type role and to lead block from the backfield. He also made two special teams tackles vs. the Steelers. In addition, Donnell was impressive in training camp practices the week prior to the game, showing good hands and the ability to get down the field.
If Pascoe and Donnell can lead block, either as fullbacks or in the role of H-Back, that means D'Imperio could get shut out.
OL (9) -- Will Beatty, Kevin Boothe, David Baas, Chris Snee, David Diehl, Justin Pugh, James Brewer, Brandon Mosley, Jim Cordle
There are two players you could make a case for right now that I left off this list. The first is Selvish Capers, who was active for three games last season and has had a good training camp/preseason thus far. The second is seventh-round pick Eric Herman.
Jim Cordle gets my final offensive line spot here, based solely on his ability to play center and -- as we have seen in the past -- his ability to long snap in an emergency. As for Herman, right now it looks like pass blocking is a problem. As of now, he could be headed to the practice squad.
WR (6) -- Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy, Jerrel Jernigan, Ramses Barden
Yes, I have Ramses Barden squeezing onto the roster in the final wide receiver slot. The Giants have lost two players with NFL experience who could have challenged him -- Kris Adams and Jeremy Horne -- to injury. The third player with a chance to unseat him, Brandon Collins, missed Saturday's game with a hamstring injury.
Barden could also be unseated from the roster if the Giants choose to keep an extra player purely for special teams purposes, likely an extra linebacker or defensive back.
DT (5) -- Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, Johnathan Hankins, Mike Patterson, Shaun Rogers
Sorry, Marvin Austin. Rogers only played nine snaps Saturday to Austin's 33, as the Giants are giving Austin every chance to show them something. In those 33 snaps Austin did not even get his name on the stat sheet, so that isn't going to get it done. Of course Rogers' ability to hold up might be an issue, so things can change.
DE (5) -- Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Damontre Moore, Adrian Tracy
Sorry, Adewale Ojomo fans. I know Ojomo had 1.5 sacks Saturday night, but he did it late in the game against fourth-string offensive linemen who won't be playing in the NFL any time soon. Adrian Tracy continues to get reps ahead of Ojomo, and until that changes I can't see a roster spot for Ojomo. The other thing that impacts that, of course, is whether or not Jason Pierre-Paul is ready to start the season.
LB (6) -- Keith Rivers, Mark Herzlich, Spencer Paysinger, Jacquian Williams, Aaron Curry, Dan Connor
Who knows how this eventually turns out? I certainly am not sure. These six players, however, look pretty certain to make the roster. Who starts and what combination they play in is anybody's guess.
The tough cut here is Kyle Bosworth, although I believe Bosworth could find his way onto the roster in place of someone like Barden due to his special teams skills.
CB (5) -- Prince Amukamara, Corey Webster, Jayron Hosley, Aaron Ross, Trumaine McBride
I can hear you screaming 'where is Terrell Thomas?' at me already. This is the hardest cut in this entire projection. I WANT to put Thomas on the roster. I can't do it at this point until he gets in a couple of games and shows that he still has the skills to cover NFL receivers, and that he can make it through the preseason healthy. Thomas has practiced some, but to my recollection he hasn't really lined up and gone all out trying to cover anybody yet.
McBride, a 2007 seventh-round draft pick by the Chicago Bears, has been impressive. He was good in coverage Saturday night and had an excellent solo tackle in punt coverage. The other player to watch here is undrafted free agent Charles James. We might not see James return any more punts after he took one out from three yards deep in the end zone Saturday night, but he does have a chance to make the roster.
S (4) -- Antrel Rolle, Stevie Brown, Ryan Mundy, Tyler Sash
Tyler Sash is the guy on the bubble here, but he was solid on defense Saturday and played well on special teams. The suspension of Will Hill for the first four games could keep him on the roster. As for rookie Cooper Taylor, he has had a quiet camp and missed Saturday's game with a hamstring injury. Until we see him in game action you have to wonder if the practice squad or IR ends up in his future.
PK -- Josh Brown; P -- Steve Weatherford; LS -- Zak DeOssie