There is one more preseason game for the New York Giants, Thursday in Foxboro, Mass. vs. the New England Patriots. With the Giants in their final dress rehearsal, let's do one more dress rehearsal of our own. By that, I mean let's do one more preseason 53-man roster projection.
This is not my final, official, projection. I will unveil that prior to final cuts, either some time on Friday or early on Saturday. Teams have to reach the 53-man roster limit by 6 p.m. ET Saturday.
Let's take a look at where my projected roster stands entering Thursday.
QB (3) -- Eli Manning, David Carr, Ryan Nassib
Curtis Painter had his opportunity Saturday vs. the New York Jets and, from my vantage point, did not do enough to force the Giants to unseat incumbent backup David Carr.
RB (4) -- David Wilson, Andre Brown, Michael Cox, Henry Hynoski
This is a change from previous season-opening projections. I had not expected Hynoski to open the season, but since he will a fourth running back is added. No change in the Michael Cox-Ryan Torain-Da'Rel Scott competition for the No. 3 slot. I will be very surprised if Cox does not win that job.
TE (4) -- Brandon Myers, Bear Pascoe, Adrien Robinson, Larry Donnell
Even though Hynoski will open the season I am going to be stubborn about this. I think the Giants try to find a way to keep Donnell on the roster. Myers has not really been impressive, and the Robinson-Donnell duo could be the tight end combo of the future.
OL (9) -- Will Beatty, Kevin Boothe, David Baas, Chris Snee, David Diehl, Justin Pugh, James Brewer, Brandon Mosley, Jim Cordle
No change here. I still believe seventh-round pick Eric Herman is headed to the practice squad.
WR (5) -- Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, Rueben Randle, Louis Murphy, Jerrel Jernigan
Every week it seems I flip-flop on Jernigan and Ramses Barden. With Jernigan having caught five passes on Saturday he has the lead going into the final preseason game. Truthfully, it's been a while since Louis Murphy has practiced due to a leg injury and I'm beginning to wonder what the deal is there.
DT (5) -- Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, Johnathan Hankins, Mike Patterson, Marvin Austin
OK, so I have finally relented and put Marvin Austin on the roster instead of Shaun Rogers. Truth is, they both deserve to make it. Unfortunately, not everyone who deserves a spot will get one.
DE (5) -- Jason Pierre-Paul, Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, Damontre Moore, Adrian Tracy
What was I thinking last week when I put Adewale Ojomo on the roster ahead of Adrian Tracy? Against the Jets on Saturday Tracy was playing with the second unit, and sometimes the first in certain packages. Ojomo got time with the fourth-team late in the game. Looks like Justin Trattou is also ahead of Ojomo.
LB (6) -- Keith Rivers, Dan Connor, Spencer Paysinger, Jacquian Williams, Mark Herzlich, Kyle Bosworth
The Giants dropped Aaron Curry when they trimmed the roster to 75 players. I think the six linebackers currently on the roster will all open the season.
CB (6) -- Prince Amukamara, Corey Webster, Jayron Hosley, Aaron Ross, Trumaine McBride, Terrell Thomas
After seeing Thomas play nearly two-dozen snaps Saturday this is my first preseason projection that includes him on the final 53. The absolute toughest call here is veteran Trumaine McBride vs. undrafted free agent rookie Charles James. Both have been impressive. Just a guess here that the Giants keep the veteran and try to sneak James to the practice squad for depth. Would the Giants dare keep James as an extra corner and go with only four defensive ends? Cullen Jenkins can play on the outside, so maybe that is possible.
S (3) -- Antrel Rolle, Ryan Mundy, Tyler Sash
With Will Hill suspended for four games and Stevie Brown down for the season I think the Giants gamble early on and keep only the three 'true' safeties. That is complicated by Antrel Rolle's ankle, but I don't know what else to do here. Thomas and Ross both know the position and could play it in an emergency
PK -- Josh Brown; P -- Steve Weatherford; LS -- Zak DeOssie
The more of these I do, and I've done these at least the past two weeks, the less sure I seem to be in a few places. Fact is, there are some really difficult choices to be made. No matter what the Giants do, they will be exposing some NFL-caliber players to the waiver wire.
At tight end, for example, I have the Giants keeping four. That's because I believe Donnell is an NFL player. If they don't keep him, he almost certainly lands on somebody's 53-man roster.
At wide receiver I keep bouncing back and forth between Barden and Jernigan. Maybe, somehow, they both make it. My gut tells me the Giants still see more upside in Jernigan than in Barden.
Defensively, there are some miserably difficult choices to make.
Of the young defensive ends -- Tracy, Trattou, Ojomo, Matt Broha -- who do you keep? Could you possible cut them all and go with four defensive ends? I have only three safeties on the final roster, and that's risky. Maybe you drop a defensive end to make room for one more safety. Maybe you drop a tight end for the same reason.
At defensive tackle, Shaun Rogers, Marvin Austin and Mike Patterson all deserve roster spots. I can't figure out a way, barring injuries, that they all end up with one.
At cornerback, both McBride and James have impressed since the first day of training camp. Highly unlikely they can both make the team. And, what do you do with Cooper Taylor? It seems unlikely the fifth-round pick would pass through waivers and make it to the practice squad. But he hasn't done anything yet. Can you carry him as an extra safety and hope he can catch up after missing a couple of weeks with a hamstring injury?
Tough calls all the way around. I'm glad I don't have to make them for real.