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New York Giants Training Camp: Players On The Roster Bubble

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These players will have to fight to stay on the team

NFL: New York Giants at Minnesota Vikings
Mark Herzlich
Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly after mini-camp I listed five New York Giants players on the roster bubble. With training camp starting this week, let’s do an expanded version of that.

Below, the list I posted last month, along with a few additional players. These are all players who were on the 53-man roster for the Giants last season.

Nat Berhe

The Missile is a good player who hasn’t had much good luck the past couple of seasons. When a starting job was his for the taking in 2015 a serious calf injury kept him from getting to the starting line and he missed the whole season. When Darian Thompson went down after two games last season, the Giants turned to Berhe. He suffered a concussion, the first of two he sustained last season, in his first start. He ended up playing in only seven games and watched Andrew Adams emerge as a solid player.

Now, the 2014 fifth-round pick finds the position crowded. If all are healthy, Landon Collins, Darian Thompson and Adams will occupy three spots. No matter how many ways I shuffle 53-man roster projections it seems unlikely in my view that the Giants keep more than four safeties. That puts Berhe in competition with Duke Ihenacho, who started 10 games for the Washington Redskins last season, Eric Pinkins, undrafted free agent Jadar Johnson and perhaps even Ryan Murphy for the final safety spot.

Berhe can certainly win that spot, and is perhaps even the favorite to do so, but there’s no question his ultimate presence on the final 53-man roster isn’t guaranteed right now.

Mark Herzlich

The fact that I would view Herzlich as being on the bubble would be no surprise to the veteran linebacker. He knows it.“I’m always trying to make the team every single year, there’s never a locked roster spot for me,” he told me during a phone interview this spring.

Jonathan Casillas, Devon Kennard, B.J. Goodson and Keenan Robinson seem like the linebackers with locks on roster spots. The status of J.T. Thomas is still uncertain as he rehabs from knee surgery. Herzlich’s primary competition right now comes from a group of youg unproven players that includes undrafted free agent Calvin Muson, Deontae Skinner and Curtis Grant.

Herzlich has, of course, been doing some work at tight end to increase his value. Herzlich always seems to find a way to stick around, and he probably will once again.

Will Tye

In 2015, Tye looked like the latest in a recent string of unheralded tight ends (Kevin Boss, Jake Ballard, briefly Larry Donnell) to be headed for surprising NFL success. He caught 42 passes in 13 games and seven starts that season, 36 of those over his final nine games. Last season, though, he seemed to plateau. He caught only 48 passes while playing in 16 games with 10 starts. His yards per catch dropped 11.0 to 8.2, and he caught only one touchdown pass. His blocking also did not seem to improve.

Now, Tye finds himself not only in a competition for playing time — but perhaps even to keep a roster spot. The Giants added first-round pick Evan Engram and free-agent tight end/fullback Rhett Ellison. Last season’s sixth-round pick, Jerell Adams, seems more comfortable this time around. Matt LaCosse had another outstanding spring, and it seems that staying healthy is probably the only thing standing between LaCosse and a roster spot.

How many tight ends can the Giants keep? Five would be a lot, but it’s not unheard of. If all five stay healthy, though, someone might draw the short straw.

Roger Lewis Jr.

The OVI charge against Lewis has been dismissed. That shouldn’t play a role in whether he makes the team or not, unless some discipline is imposed against him by the NFL.

Purely on the field, though, Lewis is facing heavy competition for a spot as a reserve wide receiver and special teams player. Tavarres King (profile), Darius Powe and undrafted free agent Travis Rudolph are making serious bids to take a job away from Lewis.

Owamagbe Odighizuwa

This is an easy one. Forget the fact that Odighizuwa vastly under-performed his third-round draft slot in his first two NFL seasons. Whatever is going on in Odighizuwa’s life that is keeping him away from football has certainly clouded his future with the Giants, and made his presence on a list like this a must.

Odighizuwa issued a cryptic tweet a few months back about needing to step away from football. He did not participate in OTAs. We don’t know if the Giants expect him for training camp. They won’t talk about him — sort of like he doesn’t exist.

With Kerry Wynn, Romeo Okwara, fifth-round pick Avery Moss and free-agent signee Devin Taylor the Giants can certainly withstand the loss of Odighizuwa. He might not even win a roster spot if he does show up.

Jay Bromley

One sack in three seasons is not the type of impact the Giants were hoping for when they surprisingly selected Bromley in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Are the Giants willing to give him one more chance? GM Jerry Reese is famously patient — sometimes too patient — with players he drafts. The Giants, though, do have options.

They drafted Dalvin Tomlinson in the second round and added veteran Corbin Bryant on a low-cost one-year deal. They also have Robert Thomas, a player they added via a waiver claim last season.

Bromley could end up starting. Or, he could end up looking for a job with another team.

Kerry Wynn

Wynn has been a decent depth player for the Giants the past three seasons, but that is pretty much all he is. He isn’t a dynamic play-maker, and there isn’t much upside beyond what we’ve already seen.

With the depth at defensive end we discussed earlier when talking about Odighizuwa, Wynn could find himself the odd man out.

Mykkele Thompson

It is stretching it just a bit to call Thompson a player who was on the roster last season. He played in one game, going down with a season-ending knee injury. That was Thompson’s only action in two seasons, as he has spent the rest of his time on IR.

Moved from safety to corner this season, Thompson is probably facing his last chance to make it with the Giants.

Orleans Darkwa

The fourth-year back has run reasonably well for the Giants when he has had the chance, averaging 4.0 yards per carry (71 carries/285 yards). He has not, however, been able to stay healthy enough to take full advantage when he has had opportunities.

Darkwa could end up as the power back in a three-man rotation of sorts with Paul Perkins and Shane Vereen. He could also end up as odd man out if the Giants think Wayne Gallman is ready, if they prefer Shaun Draughn to Darkwa, or if they need a roster spot for a true fullback.