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Giants at Bills 2016: Ten players to watch in preseason game

Lots of roster spots, playing time still up for grabs

NFL: New York Giants-Training Camp
Jerell Adams
William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants travel to western New York this weekend to face Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills in their second preseason game on Saturday afternoon. Let’s look at 10 players to watch as we get closer to roster decisions needing to be made.

Tom Obarski

Obarski, who has never kicked in an NFL regular-season game, has been a Giant since signing a reserve/futures contract in January. His “golden opportunity” to prove he belongs in the league begins in earnest on Saturday.

With Josh Brown suspended by the league for the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys, coach Ben McAdoo said Obarski will “ kick a lot this Saturday.” How he does will go a long way toward telling the Giants whether or not they will need to scan the waiver wire for a veteran kicker to fill in for Brown.

Eli Manning

Manning has been crystal clear that he wants to play in preseason games. He will get to do that Saturday. The 13-year veteran has nothing to prove in a preseason game, such as this. Still, it will be interesting to see how long he plays, how smoothly the offense operates while he’s in the game and what his rapport with Sterling Shepard and other young receivers looks like.

Anthony Dable

Dable told me more than a week ago that he was finally comfortable and felt like he was ready to “show out.” He began doing so in practice last week, and by all accounts has continued with an outstanding week of practice leading up to Saturday’s game. Can the French wide receiver make an impact during the game and really force the Giants to consider a way to keep him?

Bobby Hart

After Adam Gettis had a miserable game against the Miami Dolphins, Hart’s role seems to have expanded. The second-year offensive lineman has not only been taking reps at right tackle, he has been working at both left and right guard. With Justin Pugh (shoulder) having missed the last couple of practices it is possible he will be held out Saturday. In that event, Hart could see a ton of playing time. It’s possible he starts at left guard and then swings over to the right tackle spot when the Giants to the their reserve offensive linemen.

If that is the case we will get a pretty good read on Hart’s progress.

Middle linebackers

More and more, this competition appears to be coming down to Jasper Brinkley and Kelvin Sheppard. Keenan Robinson is also in the mix, but a groin injury cost him reps and kept him out of the preseason opener, pushing him behind the other two veterans. It will be interesting to watch not only how these guys perform Saturday, but who gets most of the snaps with the starting defense.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa

The second-year defensive end, being counted on to give the Giants an additional pass rusher as well as depth at the position, was outstanding in the preseason opener. Can Odighizuwa follow that up with another excellent performance? If so, it might really be time to begin getting excited about the 2015 third-round pick.

Leon Hall

The veteran slot corner only made a cameo last week against Miami, playing just five snaps. He figures to see more action this week, partially because first-round pick Eli Apple (knee) seems unlikely to play, but also because the Giants need to see where Hall is physically and in terms of his understanding of the defense.

Ryan Malleck/Jerell Adams

The Giants have a plethora of tight ends, and if they are going to keep Larry Donnell then these two rookies are going to have a difficult time finding a spot on the 53-man roster. Will Johnson has not practiced this week due to a burner, so there should be some extra snaps for Malleck and Adams to make their cases on Saturday.

Adams, the sixth-round pick, is full of athletic potential but is raw. The Giants need to decide if he is worthy of a 53-man roster spot, or if they can gamble on passing him through waivers and getting him to the practice squad.

Malleck is not a dynamic pass receiver, but he can block and has shown the ability to play some at H-Back and even in a traditional fullback role.

Andre Williams

Williams, a favorite target of Giants fans, had a nice night in the preseason opener, rushing nine times for 41 yards. A disappointment in his first two seasons, the 2014 fourth-round pick is noticeably lighter and quicker this summer. Can he post another impressive game, giving some hope that he will finally justify the faith the Giants have showed in him? Will the Giants give Orleans Darkwa more than two carries, which is what he got last week, to give him a real opportunity to prove he belongs on the roster? Or, has that choice already been made?

Donte Deayon

The 5-foot-9, 158-pound cornerback from Boise State, an undrafted free agent, is one of my favorite stories of the summer. With Apple not practicing all week, Deayon reportedly took some first-team reps in nickel and dime packages during the practice week. Can this guy really make the roster? He has made a pretty strong case thus far. Let’s see if it continues Saturday.