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New York Giants 53-Man Roster Projection: A Change At Backup Quarterback

Geno Smith in, Josh Johnson out in latest projection

NFL: New York Giants-Minicamp
Geno Smith
William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Training camp is at its mid-way point. The preseason opens for the New York Giants on Friday night when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers. With that in mind, let’s take a look at our latest 53-man roster projection.

Quarterback (3)

Starter: Eli Manning
Backups: Geno Smith, Davis Webb

Change: Smith in, Josh Johnson out.

There is really very little to separate Geno Smith from Josh Johnson, at least in terms of on-field performance thus far during training camp. Both have had good days and bad. They make some throws that look great. Other throws that look, well, less than great. They both have some mobility.

There is also this, which has been the case for Eli Manning backups as long as I can remember — if either one of them has to play a significant number of meaningful snaps in 2017 the Giants are in trouble. Deep trouble.

So, why have I changed from Johnson to Smith in my projection? Smith is running around well, playing without a brace on his surgically-repaired knee. He’s 26, has some upside and — while it wasn’t very productive — at least he’s played some real honest-to-goodness football over the past few years. Johnson has not taken a meaningful snap in six years. If Smith is healthy, at least there’s a chance he could do something productive in the short term.

Running Back (4)

Starter: Paul Perkins
Backups: Shane Vereen, Orleans Darkwa, Wayne Gallman

No change. And as long as all of these guys stay healthy, there almost certainly won’t be one. A quick note about Khalid Abdullah: I know some of you are high on him, but the undrafted free agent simply cannot catch the football. He drops at least one relatively easy pass during team drills just about every day, at least on the days when I have been at practice.

Tight End (4)

Starter: Evan Engram
Backups: Rhett Ellison, Jerell Adams, Matt LaCosse

No change. Will Tye continues to get the short straw, especially after Ben McAdoo more or less admitted that Tye is on the roster bubble.

Wide Receiver (6)

Starters: Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard
Backups: Tavarres King, Dwayne Harris, Darius Powe

No change. Powe has been getting some looks with the first team in recent practices. If he has a productive preseason and shows some special teams acumen, he has a good shot at making the final roster.

Offensive Line (8)

Starters: Ereck Flowers, Justin Pugh, Weston Richburg, John Jerry, Bobby Hart
Backups: D.J. Fluker, Brett Jones, Adam Bisnowaty

No change. Sorry, Chad Wheeler fans! Personally, I haven’t been impressed.


Tackle (4)

Starters: Damon Harrison, Robert Thomas
Backups: Jay Bromley, Dalvin Tomlinson

Changes: Thomas in, and pushed to the starting role, Corbin Bryant out. The Giants have Jay Bromley listed as the starter in their unofficial depth chart. I haven’t counted reps, but I believe Thomas has been in that first-team spot more often. So, for now, I have him listed as the starter. He’s having a good camp.

End (6)

Starters: Olivier Vernon, Jason Pierre-Paul
Backups: Kerry Wynn, Romeo Okwara, Avery Moss, Devin Taylor

No change. I still think Wynn could end up as an odd man out, but I will keep him here for now.

Linebacker (6)

Starters: Jonathan Casillas, Devon Kennard, B.J. Goodson
Backups: Keenan Robinson, Mark Herzlich, Calvin Munson

Change: Munson in, fellow undrafted free agent Shane Smith (a fullback) out. I’m a fan of Smith, a knock-your-block-off throwback fullback. I think there is a chance he can make the team if he keeps blasting linebackers out of running lanes, but the numbers might be against him. Rhett Ellison can fill the fullback role, so keeping a “pure” fullback could be a stretch. Munson has been getting some reps with the first unit on special teams, a sign that the Giants are taking a serious look at him.

Cornerback (5)

Starters: Janoris Jenkins, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eli Apple
Backups: Michael Hunter, Donte Deayon

No change. I’m still picking this one with my heart and not my head. Thus, I still have veteran Valentino Blake missing out. Watch our for Mykkele Thompson, though. He has made a few plays lately and could still factor in this competition.

Safety (4)

Starters: Landon Collins, Darian Thompson
Backups: Andrew Adams, Nat Berhe

No change. Duke Ihenacho and Eric Pinkins are pushing for spots, but Nat Berhe is having a good camp and is established as a critical special teams player.

Special Teams (3)

Placekicker — Aldrick Rosas
Punter — Brad Wing
Long-snapper Zak DeOssie

Mike Nugent is now in camp to compete with Aldrick Rosas, but I can’t see the veteran Nugent taking the job from Rosas. Unless the young kicker falls apart, which doesn’t seem likely. Nugent hasn’t been good the past couple of years, and my gut feeling is he’s only in camp to give the Giants a way to gauge how Rosas reacts to having competition he can see.