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New York Giants’ 53-man roster projection: Final look at who makes the team

Who will stay? Who will go?

NFL: Preseason-New York Giants at New York Jets
Andrew Adams
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo said Thursday night that “there’ll be maybe a couple of surprises” as the Giants trim their roster from 75 players to the regular-season limit of 53. That has to be done by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. With McAdoo’s potential surprises in mind, let’s make one final 53-man roster projection.

Offense (25)

Quarterback (2)

Starter — Eli Manning

Backup — Ryan Nassib

Running back (5)

Starter — Rashad Jennings

Backups — Shane Vereen, Andre Williams, Paul Perkins, Orleans Darkwa

I just don’t see how the Giants keep Darkwa off this team. The guess here is Darkwa makes the roster and Perkins is inactive on game days.

Tight end (4)

Will Tye, Larry Donnell, Will Johnson, Jerell Adams

I’m not really listing a starter. It looks like Tye and Donnell are about even. The fact that Will Johnson (burner) hasn’t played since the first preseason game make it tough to figure out how playing time will be divvied up.

Wide receivers (6)

Starters — Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, Victor Cruz

BackupsDwayne Harris, Geremy Davis, Tavarres King

Cruz is safe. In this projection, I have the Giants cutting impressive undrafted free agent rookie Roger Lewis. You want a surprise? The way Lewis makes this team, which he deserves to, is if the Giants part ways with Davis. That would be a quick hook for the 2015 sixth-round pick, but if the Giants want Lewis on the roster that seems like how to make it happen.

Offensive line (8)

Starters — LT Ereck Flowers, LG Justin Pugh, C Weston Richburg, RG John Jerry, RT Marshall Newhouse

Backups Will Beatty, Bobby Hart, Adam Gettis

Beatty is, of course, making the team. Hart, despite an unimpressive preseason, is making the team. The last spot is a complete shot in the dark. It could go to Brett Jones, Emmett Cleary or Ryan Seymour. It could go to someone not on the roster. Maybe the Giants drop a linebacker and keep nine. This picture is definitely out of focus.

Defense (25)

Defensive tackle (4)

StartersDamon Harrison, Johnathan Hankins

BackupsJay Bromley, Jermelle Cudjo

For my money, Cudjo earned a roster spot Thursday night. Of course, the Giants could also look to the waiver wire for help.

Defensive end (5)

Starters — Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul

Backups — Kerry Wynn, Owamagbe Odighizuwa, Romeo Okwara

It’s simple. Okwara, the undrafted free agent from Notre Dame, has earned a roster spot.

Linebacker (7)

StartersJonathan Casillas, Devon Kennard, Jasper Brinkley

BackupsB.J. Goodson, J.T. Thomas III, Keenan Robinson, Mark Herzlich

The odd man out here is Kelvin Sheppard. The way I read the decision to sit Jasper Brinkley and play Sheppard Thursday night is that Brinkley has won the middle linebacker job. Maybe that’s wrong, but that’s the way I saw it. Keenan Robinson has become part of the nickel package, and Herzlich is critical on special teams.

Cornerback (5)

StartersJanoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Leon Hall

BackupsEli Apple, Trevin Wade

As I wrote last night, I like Donte Deayon but his size at 158 pounds is an issue. I think he ends up on the practice squad. If there’s going to be a surprise here, you could see the veteran Hall get the ax. He hasn’t had an impressive preseason.

Safety (4)

StartersLandon Collins, Darian Thompson

BackupsNat Berhe, Andrew Adams

Specialists (3)

Placekicker — Randy Bullock

Punter — Brad Wing

Long-snapperZak DeOssie

I’m still not convinced Bullock will be the Week 1 kicker in place of the suspended Josh Brown. The Giants could turn to the waiver wire for a young kicker who won’t be guaranteed a full salary by being on the Week 1 roster.