The New York Giants came away with their first preseason win, but that doesn’t really matter. This time of year what matters most are the position battles that will help to shape the Giants’ final roster.
Who has helped, or hurt, their causes in pursuit of a roster spot or even a starting job?
Winner - Brett Jones
After a fairly brutal performance from the offensive line on the Giants’ first possession, Ben McAdoo put backup center Brett Jones into the game at right guard in place of John Jerry. The effect was immediate, and the offense looked much more like what has been expected of them — even without Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall.
Jones stayed in the game with the starters in the third possession, and played a key role in the team’s first offensive touchdown of the preseason with a pull block that paved the way for Oleans Darkwa.
Jones’ play against the Jets’ talented defensive front might just have earned him a starting job.
Also Winners - Eli Manning And The Running backs
The immediate beneficiaries of the change at right guard were Eli Manning and the Giants’ running backs.
Manning’s stat line wasn’t particulary pretty, but he played well once the change was made on the offensive line.
Manning made several impressive throws with a stable pocket in front of him, including threading the needle to Roger Lewis Jr. to convert a fourth down.
Loser - John Jerry
If Brett Jones was the winner in the right guard competition, John Jerry is the loser. He has not played well at all this preseason, and after getting run over by the Jets’ starters (leading to an interception and a big hit on Eli Manning) the Giants had to make a move.
Jones wasn’t lights out in relief, but he played well and the offense functioned better than at any point in the preseason. That replacing one lineman could have such an effect is definitely not good for Jerry.
Winner - Travis Rudolph
The undrafted free agent from Florida State has always been an easy player to root for as he fights for a roster spot in the Giants’ crowded wide receiver depth chart.
He made it even easier against the Jets and might have secured himself a roster spot by bailing out both Josh Johnson and Geno Smith with spectacular catches.
The first play was a high, underthrown ball by Johnson in the second quarter.
The second was a high lob toward the sideline by Geno Smith.
Rudolph isn’t just easy to root for anymore, he might have forced his way onto the roster.
Loser - Roger Lewis Jr.
Lewis made a great catch to convert a fourth down and put the Giants on the door to the end zone in the first half.
He also let a couple of potential catches bounce off his hands.
That has been the story of Lewis’ preseason so far. He will have a rough play but follow it up with a great catch.
The Giants’ tight ends have played well and the depth at that position might force the Giants to keep just five receivers. If so, Lewis’ inconsistent play combined with Rudolph seizing his opportunity might cost Lewis his roster spot.
Winner - Michael Hunter
Hunter was out of the game with a concussion, but he still picked up a win in the battle for the Giants’ secondary depth chart.
The Giants’ backup cornerbacks look to be a serious cause for concern, with penalties and busted coverages letting the Jets’ backups easily move the ball. Hunter was having a strong off-season and camp before being concussed against the Browns. Donte Deayon has flashed as well, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Giants scour the waiver wire after the final preseason game.
Winner - Giants’ Kicking Competition
So far both Giants’ kickers have been perfect on field goals and extra-point attempts and have been solid on kickoffs. They have both also made field goal attempts of more than 50 yards, though Rosas’ was the more impressive of the two.
The Giants have to feel good that they have a pair of kickers who appear to be reliable.
Ben McAdoo said that he naturally leans “a bit” towards the younger player, but both players have kicked well through three games. There is little separating them at this point, but that isn’t a bad thing for the Giants.