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Giants’ Starters Will Likely Play Few Snaps Against Steelers

It looks like Friday will be a night off for Eli Manning and Odell

NFL: New York Giants-OTA Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Expect to see baseball caps galore when the cameras pan to the New York Giants’ sidelines in Friday Night’s pre-season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Early indications are that at least a few starters won’t play in the first pre-season game, and those that do won’t log many snaps.

Head coach Ben McAdoo has been cautious running his second training camp.

He opened camp with little more than a jog-through as the first practice and slowly ramped up the intensity until the team’s first fully padded practice. Along the way there have been opportunities for rest and recovery, both days off from practice and scheduled “veteran rest days” for players like Jason Pierre-Paul, Weston Richburg, and Damon Harrison.

McAdoo appears to be set to treat preseason the same way, and has already all but confirmed that Eli Manning and Odell Beckham Jr. won’t be taking the field Friday night. McAdoo said, “There is a plan. We are going to treat it very similarly to the way we treated (the first preseason game) last year.”

In the 2016 pre-season opener against the Miami Dolphins, eight members of the starting defense logged eight snaps or less — about two series worth.

Rookie safety Darian Thompson did see 25 defensive snaps, while Landon Collins and Jonathan Casillas each saw 15.

So it’s likely that the starting offensive and defensive lines will see a series or two, while potential starters like Jay Bromley and Robert Thomas, and B.J. Goodson see more. On the offensive side of the ball, it’s likely that Evan Engram sees a larger work load (a la Thompson in 2016). It will be interesting to see how many (if any) snaps Brandon Marshall receives, as well as which quarterback, Josh Johnson or Geno Smith, gets the start.

McAdoo was largely coy about his plan for distributing snaps among the players who will see them Friday night, but he did confirm that rookie Davis Webb will get some snaps at some point in the game.

He also suggested that free agent tight end Rhett Ellison could be a larger factor in the passing game than many are predicting, saying, “I think he has been underutilized in the pass game. We are going to use him a little bit more and give him some opportunities there. He has certainly shown he moves like a football player in space, so I don’t see any reason why he can’t be a contributor.”

The Giants’ coach did give a small hint at what the Giants hope to see from their offense, saying, “Yeah, we need to come out and run the ball, first group. We will talk later about how many plays we are going to get the first group, but coming out running the football is important to us and it starts with the first time we hit the field together in a team environment.”

But regardless of which players get however many snaps Friday night, McAdoo wants to see them compete.

“We talked about that the other day,” he said. “There is a lot of competition in camp, so the more competition, the more guys are on the bubble. If you don’t know if you are on the bubble, then you are on the bubble. We talked about how your fears can lead to your greatness, your greatness lies within your fears, so embrace them and compete your tail off on Friday night.”